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King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow

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King's Quest VI is thought of by some fans as the high point of the King's Quest series for its in-depth plot, landmark 3D graphic introduction movie, and professional voice acting. Hollywood actor Robby Benson provides the voice for Prince Alexander, the game's protagonist. KQVI was the last King's Quest game to be released on floppy disk. The floppy disk version does not include the character voices found on the CD-ROM. The opening movie is also slightly different on the floppy disk version of the game, and some of the art and animation is less detailed.

The StoryEdit

Prince Alexander can't get Princess Cassima out of his mind. They met at the end of KQV when Alexander's father King Graham freed his family and the kidnapped princess from the wizard Mordack, but have not seen each other since. The Magic Mirror sends Alexander a vision of Cassima at home in the far-off Land of the Green Isles. Alexander sets sail for the Green Isles, but is shipwrecked in a storm. Alexander washes up onshore alone with nothing but the clothes on his back.

He soon learns that Cassima is being held prisoner in her castle by Abdul Alhazred, the evil Vizier of the Green Isles. Abdul Alhazred has murdered the King and Queen and plans to force Cassima to marry him so that he can rule the Land of the Green Isles himself. Alexander must expose the Vizier's plot, stop the wedding, and free Cassima. Alexander also discovers that the islands of the kingdom are on the verge of war. Precious artifacts from each island have been stolen, and the different leaders all blame each other. Can he solve the mystery and restore peace to the kingdom?

The GameEdit

Early in KQVI, Alexander discovers that the ferry between the islands of the kingdom is no longer running. To progress in the game the player must obtain a magic map. This map allows Alexander to teleport instantly from one island to another. The major islands are the Isle of the Crown (with an Arabian Nights theme), the Isle of Wonder (reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland), the Isle of the Beast (Beauty and the Beast), and the Isle of the Sacred Mountain (Classical mythology). Later in the game Alexander will discover information that allows him to travel to one or two other hidden areas.

A booklet titled "Guidebook to the Land of the Green Isles" (written by Jane Jensen) is included in the KQVI package. Aside from providing additional background to the game's setting, this booklet serves as part of the game's copy protection. The player will not be able to pass the puzzles on the Cliffs of Logic that guard the Isle of the Sacred Mountain without information from the booklet. The booklet also includes a map to the labyrinth on the Isle of the Sacred Mountain.

KQVI was designed with replayability in mind. The last portion of the game splits into two separate branches, leading to two different major endings. The "short branch" is easier to complete, but the more difficult "long branch" includes puzzles, locations, characters, and information that cannot be found in the short branch. In order to win full points and reach the best possible ending the player must take the long branch, but it is possible to defeat Abdul Alhazred and rescue Cassima at the end of both branches. There are minor variations on the endings of each branch, depending upon which optional tasks the player performs.

KQVI is plagued by several plot inconsistencies that did not appear in other 'King's Quest' adventures such as KQV. One such inconsistency is how Alexander knew which bottle to choose to use in place of the genie's bottle, when the hint that shows which bottle to choose takes place in a cutscene when Alexander is not present. Also, some items seem to appear in some places at random, and this can be quite irritating when you have completed everything else, and much search the lands for one item, or when an item will not appear due to not speaking to someone and so forth.

Version informationEdit

  • King's Quest VI (aka Floppy version)
  • King's Quest VI Multimedia (aka King's Quest VI CD)

The menus and icons in the disk version of the game are different than in the CD version (King's Quest VI CD). The Windows version of the CD release has enhanced high-resolution character portraits, interface icons, and inventory graphics, compared with the DOS version.

The introduction cutscene is different in each version of the game: specifically, the DOS 16-color, DOS VGA disk, DOS VGA CD, Windows CD, and Mac version intros are all different. Sometimes the script is different. Other times the scenes are different. The DOS VGA disk version has a longer flyby sequence in the castle showing off more of the throne room, and a different set of voice actors. The CD-ROM version has an enhanced version of the boat sequence. The 16-color version includes more narration describing the events, less artwork.

The Windows version is also enhanced with higher resolution character portraits, menu, and inventory artwork. For information on how to get KQ6 Enhanced to work see here, here, or use SCUMMVM. When switching to text mode the game utilizes the lower res character boxes, but stretched vertically somewhat.

The DOS disk version does not have the character voices (except in the introduction video), which were introduced in the CD version, and instead uses text boxes (which, like the icon bar and inventory graphics, are colored differently than those of the CD release). The introduction video has a different set of actors than in the Cd-Rom version.

Amiga portEdit

Revolution created a port of King's Quest VI using their Virtual Theatre engine (it is not a SCI game).

The Amiga port represents a vastly different version of the game built on, including introduction, puzzle, and story changes. For more information, see King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (Amiga)

Long and Short QuestsEdit

The game has two quests: Long Path ('main-path', "Magic Paint" Path[1], All Puzzles Path[2]) and Short Path (aka Easiest Path[3], or "Beauty's Clothes" Path).

For the short quest, Alexander must disguise himself as a serving girl as a way to enter the castle. This will skip the revival of the King and Queen and the discovery of the sacred items, resulting in the bad ending (especially if the genie is killed).

For the long quest, Alexander must go to every island. The slave clothes must be used on the Isle of Mists to put out the fire in the cage. Alexander must go to the Realm of the Dead to revive the King and Queen. He must also find the sacred items. For full points, Alexander must send the following items (in order) to Cassima via Sing Sing: his ring, the poem, and the rose. Also, the only way to get the good ending is to capture Shamir. Giving him a mint will kill him, preventing him from transporting everyone to the castle.

ReceptionEdit

"This game is proof positive that the era of CD Gaming is upon us. Kill your hard drive!"-Peter Spear, Questbusters Magazine.

"...King's Quest VI is a landmark computer game. It's fitting that it also marks the end of an era. The plot is almost trite: princess imprisoned in a tower, a really evil Vizier running amok, kingdom in turmoil, and a lone prince to set it all right. But then Star Wars was little else boys meet girl, they all save the universe...King's Quest VI is not just good, it is a landmark game.-Peter Spear, Interaction Magazine, Winter 1992, 37.

"I'm pleased to say it also won the Software Publisher's Association's "Best Adventure Game" award in 1991."-Roberta Williams

Behind the scenesEdit

  • The name Ali is used three times in the game. The first is the bookshop owner, the second is the ghost child, and finally the magic words ALI ZEBU.
  • There are several ways to make the game unwinnable or unplayable (although it is extremely easy to avoid such circumstances). See dead ends.
  • There are a few other items that can become non accessible, but these will merely prevent the player from getting the optimal ending. For example, if you are too slow to get the pearl the oyster will fall asleep, you will not be able to get the ring back, to give to Cassima, before or during the wedding. Another example is trading for the wrong lamp, you will not be given a chance to trade for the right one.
  • There are two ways to get a string of hair, preventing another possible dead end (if the player burned up the dress).
  • In the game the player is able to choose the correct lamp, despite the fact that Alexander never sees the lamp during the game (only the player sees the lamp during a cutscene). This solution breaks the fourth wall. The Companion tries to explain that Alexander saw the lamp on his first visit to the castle when he was lead into the vizier's study (a scene that doesn't appear in the game); within the game itself, Alexander attributes his pick to mere intuition (but it is possible to pick the wrong lamp as well).
  • In the game the player is able to help Alexander to scale the Cliffs of Logic and solve the traps of the catacombs despite the fact that he seemingly has no direct access to the riddles, Ancient language and solutions given in the Guidebook to the Land of the Green Isles (which the player has access to). Again this solution breaks the fourth wall. The Companion explains that Alexander was given a copy shortly before he sailed and lost it when he crashed. It explains that he read and memorized portions that proved useful for solving both the cliffs and the catacombs. A couple of the lines in the game hint that Alexander probably read a copy of the Guidebook as well.
  • Falling from first few steps of the Logic Cliffs three times will cause Alexander to tell the player to "Quit making me fall!", breaking the fourth wall directly.
  • Like most King's Quest games, the title is a pun. In this case, on the phrase "Here today, gone tomorrow." and the fact that Alexander is the heir to the throne of Daventry.

ReferencesEdit

  1. KQ6 Hintbook, pg 90
  2. KQ6 Hintbook, pg 91, 97
  3. KQ6 Hintbook, pg81

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