Apparently, gameplay isn't all that important.

I just finished King’s Quest VI.

At this point, those of you who have never heard of it are saying “What’s that?” Those of you who have only heard of it are saying “What a nerd.” And those of you who were privileged enough to have enjoyed it in your youth, or those of you who are nerds and therefore are into playing old video games are saying “What a great game!”

The King’s Quest series is one of those classics, you know… like Chrono Trigger, or Super Mario World, or Myst… while the series may not have been the Beatles of video games, it was maybe the Talking Heads. Quirky, fun, multifaceted, a little hard to get into but definitely rewarding.

Anyway, I’ve now played King’s Quests V-VII, and let me tell you, the gameplay is terrible. King’s Quests I-IV had a text-based interface, which apparently sucked. At least KQV-VII had a graphical point-and-click interface, primitive as it was. But you’d have to be a super smart dude to get through the game without a hint book. Also, you’d have to have a lot of save files. Because there were a ton of ways that you could just get screwed! You go through the Land of the Dead without getting the River Styx water or the skeleton key, you’re toast! You enter the Labyrinth without the red scarf, brick, tinderbox, and hole-in-the-wall (which you couldn’t possibly be expected to know that you need), and you’re stuck there forever! And you’d never know! You’d just be clicking around forever, and eventually you’d get so frustrated you’d eat the floppy disk with some salsa and guacamole. Not to mention the many times when you’re supposed to just guess until the right thing happens, or the long walking times between screens, or the answers to literally impossible puzzles that are printed only in the manual. (That’s early copy protection, right there!)

But these games are so good anyway! The story is fun, the characters at least a little bit likable, the settings innovative, the graphics gorgeous (for a 256-color 640x480 screen), the music agreeable. I mean, what other game brings you through an Arabian village, a beast’s magic garden, a labyrinth with a minotaur, a kingdom of winged creatures with an oracle, an “isle of wonder” (which is pretty funny, and you’d have to see it), a druid village, a castle, and the land of the dead? And they were doing this in 1992!

I’m not the only one who thinks this; see Gamespot’s “Greatest Games of All Time.” So what do we have to learn from this? I mean, besides the gnarled old gamer’s standby about how graphics are overrated and they don’t make them like they used to? I don’t know. I do like the King’s Quests, though.

(Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate good gameplay too, and not dying all the time!)

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