Sierra On-Line: Early Adventure Games
Anyone who grew up in the 1980s and had a personal computer, either an Apple or IBM, likely knew about a company that – at the time – revolutionized the computer game industry. That company was Sierra On-Line, makers of adventure games such as King’s Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Police Quest. These games are virtually unplayable these days as the technology has dramatically changed. But back in the day, these games, brought to us by Ken and Roberta Williams, were cool, particularly if you didn’t have a Nintendo. Here they are:
King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown (1984)
The Kingdom of Daventry has its magical items stolen: a magic mirror, an invincible shield, and a chest that is always filled with gold. King Edward the Benevolent sends his bravest knight, Sir Graham, to retrieve them. If he succeeds, he will become the next king.
Classic part: Climbing the beanstalk, waiting for the giant to go to sleep, then taking the chest from him. You can also kill the giant with a slingshot.
King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne (1985)
The magic mirror shows King Graham a vision of a woman, Valanice, imprisoned on the top of an ivory tower. Graham is then teleported to the world of Kolyma to rescue her. There he must travel through sea, air, and even death to gain the keys that unlock the three doors to the world where Hagatha the witch has imprisoned Valanice.
Classic part: Going into Dracula’s castle. At the cave entrance to Hagatha’s Cave, if you arrive at the right time, you can see the Batmobile drive out and drive back in.
King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human (1986)
A boy named Gwydion is enslaved by the wicked magician Manannan. Gwydion was kidnapped from Daventry by the magician when he was young, and this adventure tells the story of his journey back to Daventry.
Classic part: While in the desert, making sure you don’t face Medusa as you hold up the mirror to her, thus turning her to stone.
King’s Quest IV: Perils of Rosella (1988)
King Graham has a heart attack. The good fairy Genesta teleports princess Rosella to the land of Tamir, where she learns about a magical fruit that can heal her father. However, Genesta herself is weakened because the evil fairy Lolotte stole Genesta’s talisman. If Rosella cannot return the talisman to Genesta, the good fairy will be unable to help her return to Daventry in time to save her father.
Classic part: Playing the organ at night in the haunted house! Kissing the toad, who turns into a prince. Walking in the dark through the cave.
King’s Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder (1990)
The Castle Daventry is engulfed in a whirlwind and lifted out of sight, and King Graham is the only member of the royal family to be left behind. The talking owl Cedric brings Graham to the land of Serenia to see the wizard Crispin. Crispin gives Graham some advice, his old wand, and a piece of white snake which allows Graham to speak with animals. Graham then starts on his journey. I wasn’t a big fan of Cedric the owl. He was so annoying.
King’s Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow (1993)
The magic mirror sends Alexander a vision of Princess Cassima in the far-off Land of the Green Isles. There, Alexander learns that Cassima is being held prisoner in her castle by Abdul Alhazred, the evil Vizier of the Green Isles. Abdul 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.
Classic part: Fooling those guys who represent each sense: Hearing, vision, scent, feel and taste.
King’s Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (1994)
An evil enchantress plots to destroy the magic realm of Eldritch, forcing Rosella and Valanice to use their courage, wisdom and heart as they battle her for the survival of an entire world.
King’s Quest: Mask of Eternity (1998)
Connor must find pieces of the Mask Of Eternity, which have been scattered throughout the land, to make his homeland of Daventry alive again. Along the way, he encounters danger in many different environments. This is the first installment in the series to be in 3D.
Set in the futuristic year of 2004, when Earth has been enslaved by a race of aliens known. The Orbs have implanted all humans with global tracking devices, forced them to wear robes and forbid them from communicating. The hero has been assigned to track down fellow humans who are believed to be forming an underground resistance.
Terrifying alien invaders have overrun San Francisco, spreading horror, tyranny and death. As a manhunter, you hunt your own kind for San Francisco’s alien masters. Use a portable computer and detailed city maps to aid you in your pursuit of renegade humans.
Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter (1986)
Roger Wilco, a janitor, is part of a crew aboard the research vessel Arcada. He is caught napping in the broom closet when the Sarien creeps aboard the ship and steals the top secret Star Generator. Roger must use his wits to foil the bad guys’ destructive plans and save himself and everyone else from being killed.
Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge (1987)
Now that Roger has saved civilization, he’ll have to face Sludge Vohaul. Sludge is planning to unleash genetically engineered insurance salesmen on an unsuspecting galaxy.
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (1989)
Help the Two Guys from Andromeda defend their programming careers from the diabolical Scumsoft, a sleazy, money-hungry computer cartridge software company. The intrepid game designers have been kidnapped. They need your quick wits and probing mind to free them. Only Roger can achieve the know-how to keep them from having to ‘sell out’ their talents and start churning out silly second-rate cartridge arcade games.
Space Quest IV: (1991)
Stumble through past and future Space Quest adventures as Roger uses time travel to stay one step ahead of the Sequel Police and put an end to Sludge Vohaul’s anti-social behavior once and for all.
Space Quest V: (1993)
The interstellar broom jockey is back, and now he has his own starship (garbage scow) to command. Help Roger make the move from custodian to starship captain while you track down the dirty scum who’ve been dumping bio-hazardous waste around the galaxy. Did we mention the fate of the entire universe is in your hands?
Space Quest VI: (1995)
Fight grime and battle evil adversaries with Roger Wilco as he joins farces with video games, TV and sci-fi movies, past and present. From far-flung planet Polysorbate 60 to the deep recesses of “inner space,” getting out of this one clean will take all the nerve and backbone.
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (1987)
Larry Laffer is a 40-year old virgin. After leaving behind his geeky life, he decides to visit the sinful city of Lost Wages (a reference to Las Vegas), experience what he hasn’t lived before, and find the woman of his dreams.
Leisure Suit Larry 2: Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) (1988)
Larry has won a million dollars and the dream vacation of his life! On a strange jungle island, Larry mixes it up with sinister spies, a mad scientist, and tropical island beauties. Will he escape from the secret laboratory of the evil Dr. Nonookie? Will he win the girl of his dreams? Will he live to get off the island?
Classic moment: The very beginning, where you have to answer a series of questions to determine if you’re an adult or not, which determines how much nudity you see in the game. Also, the music in this, by creator Al Lowe, is superb.
Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals (1989)
From the seamy strip clubs of Nontoonyt Island to the steamy jungle ruled by amazon cannibal women, Larry Laffer is off on the adventure of his life, with the woman of his dreams in hot pursuit. This is the first Sierra adventure to allow players to switch roles in mid-game.
Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work (1991)
Patti is a super secret agent spy working undercover (and under the covers!) for the FBI. Larry is working a low-level job for the porno primetime show, America’s Sexiest Home Videos. And the Mob is out to get pornography out of the living room and back onto the profit sheets. Help Larry and Patti take on organized crime, the FBI, the music industry and the U.S. Congress in a spicy serving of sex, thugs and rock n’ roll.
Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out! (1993)
This time Larry has won a two week vacation at a wacky, Toon-toned resort, filled with realistic babes. Help him in his quest to conquer nine intensely beautiful women.
Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail! (1996)
This time Larry has been dropped onto a cruise ship filled with gorgeous women. He must compete with the guests for the “Thygh’s Man Trophy.” If he wins he will spend a week sailing on the captain.
Police Quest I: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (1987)
Rookie cop Sonny Bonds is assigned to clean up the town of Lytton of the drug lord, Jesse Bains. First you’ll have to help Sonny sharpen his detective skills. And if you want a conviction, you’ll have to follow true-to-life police procedures. 10-4!
Classic part: The drug bust at the end. It was also fun playing cards.
Police Quest II: The Vengeance (1988)
Sonny Bonds’ worst nightmare comes to life: The Death Angel has escaped from jail, with a list of people he wants dead, and it’s up to Sonny to put an end to a series of revenge killings before he becomes one of the victims.
Police Quest III: The Kindred (1991)
Jesse Bains’ brother is out for revenge and his target is Sonny’s wife. Insanity, brutality and bizarre ritual killings are down every alley and around every corner.
Police Quest IV: Open Season (1993)
Someone’s on a killing spree, and it’s up to you to solve a string of seemingly random murders. Some clues may bring you closer to the killer. Some lead down blind alleys. You must find the killer before he strikes again. Play it by the book and you might just stay alive. Make a mistake and you could be the next victim. This game was designed by former L.A. police chief Darryl Gates.
Who’s going to inherit the Colonel’s fortune? And, who will be the next murder victim? Young, attractive, quick-witted and clever, Laura Bow tries to unravel a puzzling mystery. The bizarre plot weaves through a suspicious cast of the Colonel’s “friends” who are not all friendly.
Classic moment: The ending, with the Colonel and Rudy, is worthy of any Hitchcock film.
Plunge into the dizzying social whirl of the Roaring 20′s. It’s an era of jazz, flappers, champagne madness… and murder. Laura’s on the trail of a stolen Egyptian artifact. She’ll have to creep through echoing hallways and cavernous rooms in the Egyptian Wing of a New York museum, hot on the trail of the criminal. But the enterprising thief (an murderer) may be right behind her.
Hero’s Quest: So You Want to Be a Hero (later re-released as Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero) (1989)
Wait till you custom-design your character, who is a new graduate of The Famous Adventure’s Correspondence School. Rescue the daughter and son of a powerful Baron and defeat the schemes of an evil witch. You’ll uncover spells, weapons and provisions that you’ll need to become a real Hero.
Quest for Glory II: Trial by Fire (1990)
Unravel the mysteries of exotic Shapeir and its sinister city Raseir. Sojourn across the burning sands of a great desert. The setting, storyline, and cast of characters conjure the tales of the Arabian Nights and the challenge is a classic conflict between good and evil.
Quest for Glory III: Wages of War (1992)
You’ll venture into remote jungles and deserts as you continue your quest. Disaster threatens the land of Tarna. Your friends Uhura and Rakeesh the Liontaur are threatened by warring tribes. Only you can effect peace through a balance of bravery, loyalty, friendship and honor.
Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness (1994)
Dark magic has drawn you to Mordavia. Undead creatures walk the forest by night; everyone you meet seems strange and uneasy. It’s up to you to make friends, influence people, and unravel the mystery of the Dark One.
Classic part: When the vampire chick shows up late one night, ready to seduce you.
Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire (1998)
Erasmus introduces the Hero to the Greece-like kingdom of Silmaria, whose king was recently murdered.
Gold Rush! (1988)
The game is set in 1848. Jerrod Wilson, a Brooklyn newspaperman, must go to Sacramento to meet his long-lost brother. Word arrives that gold has been found in California, and it becomes much more difficult for Jerrod to settle his affairs in Brooklyn and find a way to Sacramento. The great thing about this game is that there are three completely different ways to get to California. Over land, through Panama, and around South America.
Classic part: Navigating through the swamp in Panama.
Codename: Iceman (1989)
Go from the sunny beaches of Tahiti to the halls of the Pentagon and beyond. Secret Agent Johnny Westland attempts to crack the deadly security of the terrorist base and rescue a hostage ambassador in the most critical assignment of his career. Using a nuclear-powered attack submarine, a one-man diving vehicle and scuba gear, Westland must penetrate the electronic harbor surveillance of a hostile Middle-Eastern nation. His goal — a nest of fanatical terrorists armed with advanced weaponry!
Classic part: I enjoyed playing volleyball.
Conquests of Camelot: The Search for the Grail (1989)
Help King Arthur as he travels the world in search of the Holy Grail. It’s the only thing that can save the kingdom from destruction and demise. Along the way you’ll face trials of wits and courage, and you’ll have to make decisions that will affect your knighthood and the future of Camelot!
Classic part: The ending, when you’re wrestling with the thief over the Holy Grail. Very intense.
Conquests of the Longbow: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1992)
While gallantly returning from the wars of the crusades, King Richard the Lionhearted is kidnapped! Take up arms with Robin Hood, aided by Maid Marian and the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, and try to raise a ransom for the King while evading the plots and traps of the clever and infamous Sheriff of Nottingham.
Classic part: When you’re hiding in the woods and need to frantically use the hand code to merge with the trees so you escape detection. Also, like other games, this one came with a contest. I won a Robin Hood t-shirt, which my father still wears today.
Music of Sierra
If you bought the Sierra Soundtrack Collection back in the early 90s, consider yourself lucky. It’s hard to get your hands on the CD today. However, the music, by Mark Seibert, is available here.
Another great soundtrack is from the game Inca, which is available at Amazon.
Sierra On-Line acquired several companies over time and released a number of other games and products. Above are the adventure classics. Beneath are most of the rest.
Freddy Pharkas Frontier Pharmacist
Jones in the Fast Lane
Screen Antics: The Adventures of Johnny Castaway (At the time, the screensaver was a new, cool concept. Got old quick)
Wrath of Denethenor
Ecoquest 1 – The Search for Cetus
Ecoquest 2 – The Lost Secret of the Rainforest
Gobliins 2 – The Prince Buffoon
Goblins 3 – Quest
Goblins 4 – Woodruff and the Schnibble
Gabriel Knight 1 – Sins of the Fathers
Gabriel Knight 2 – The Beast Within
Gabriel Knight 3 – Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned
Hoyle Volume 1 – Official Book of Games
Hoyle Volume 2 – Solitaire
Hoyle Volume 3 – Great Board Games
Hoyle Classic – Card Games
Ultima I – The Orignal
Ultima II – Revenge of the Enchantress
Ultima: Escape from Mt. Drash
The Black Cauldron
Donald Duck’s Playground
Learning with Fuzzy Womp
Learning with Leeper
Mickey’s Space Adventure
Mixed-Up Fairy Tales
Mixed-Up Mother Goose
Pepper’s Adventures in Time
Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood
Castle of Dr. Brain
Island of Dr. Brain
Lost Mind of Dr. Brain
Quarky and Quaysoo’s Turbo Science
The Incredible Machine
Even More Incredible Machine
The Incredible Machine 2
Sid and Al’s Incredible Toons
A-10: Tank Killer
Aces of the Deep
Aces Over Europe
Aces of the Pacific
Adventures of Willy Beamish
Betrayal at Krondor
Heart of China
Rise of the Dragon
Apple Cider Spider
BC’s Quest for Tires
BC’s Quest for Tires 2
Sierra Championship Boxing
Thexder 2: Firehawk