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I wanted to get a thread started on Sierra and their adventure games.

 

During the 1980s and 1990s, they dominated point-and-click/text parser adventure games.  They had standalone titles like Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist as well as franchises like King's Quest, Police Quest and Leisure Suit Larry.

 

I loved playing these games even though the puzzles were tricky and some didn't even make sense.  

 

Any more adventure game fans?

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Manhunter: San Francisco was one of my favourites. I loved the storytelling with those games, and I'm just sorry that they never did make anything in the genre for the A8. We do have a few Polish games, like Klatwa, that are in the same vein, but they're all PAL and largely unplayable unless you know Polish.

 

I'm of a mixed mind with respect to the rest of their titles. Controls improved immeasurably at KQ4, but at the expense of storytelling. I loved the entire King's Quest series (and Space Quest as well), but they lost must richness and texture when text was devalued, and ultimately rejected, in favour of visual storytelling. And I can't tell you how many times I stared at the screen -- sometimes for hours -- looking for some stupid graphic clue to solve a largely illogical puzzle. 

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I love them, warts'n all. Somehow could never get into the KQ series. My favourites are: Leisure Suit Larry, totally novel, funny and often misunderstood these days (it really isn't sexist - it's actually mocking it, you dorks). Space Quest for the humour, Manhunter for the mood. The first two were actually easy enough for a teen second-language speaker (I played the parser versions), with little experience in the genre  to complete (nearly) on my own, which was great. Unlike the first Police Quest, which then was too tricky for me (you also needed some clues from the manual and all our games were pirated back then).

 

Never played much of their other games, ie Quest For Glory, Laura Bow, etc, but I'm catching up these days. But the likes of Freddy Pharkas are nowhere near as good as the original line up...still kinda fun though.

 

This is a great article about their demise: https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3vem8/inside-story-sierra-online-death-cuc-cendant-fraud

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I had a PC Jr. back in the day, and one of the games designed to showcase the system was King's Quest. I bought it because the graphics were so vibrant, and the idea of controlling a character in 3-D was new.

 

Then I got a Tandy 1000 SX, and KQ was quickly followed up by Space Quest, KQ2, and I bought them immediately. I bought every Sierra game from then on. I was always excited to play each new game. Some were good...some were great.

 

My favorite Sierra games were: KQ3, SQ2, SQ3, PQ1, PQ2, LSL1, QFG1 (I still have the original Hero's Quest), both Manhunters, and Hoyle 1.

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7 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Manhunter: San Francisco was one of my favourites. I loved the storytelling with those games, and I'm just sorry that they never did make anything in the genre for the A8. We do have a few Polish games, like Klatwa, that are in the same vein, but they're all PAL and largely unplayable unless you know Polish.

 

I'm of a mixed mind with respect to the rest of their titles. Controls improved immeasurably at KQ4, but at the expense of storytelling. I loved the entire King's Quest series (and Space Quest as well), but they lost must richness and texture when text was devalued, and ultimately rejected, in favour of visual storytelling. And I can't tell you how many times I stared at the screen -- sometimes for hours -- looking for some stupid graphic clue to solve a largely illogical puzzle. 

I'm in the "Text parser was better than point and click camp."

 

Text added the richness that you described. When point and click came along, it destroyed the storytelling. With point and click, it just became a game of trial and error with the mouse.

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8 hours ago, davidcalgary29 said:

Manhunter: San Francisco was one of my favourites. I loved the storytelling with those games, and I'm just sorry that they never did make anything in the genre for the A8.

"The Dark Crystal" was done for the A8. It's not a Sierra original story, but it does use the mechanics.

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Posted (edited)

I discovered Sierra's adventure games through the "Roberta Williams Anthology" of 1994 (here the German Wikipedia entry with the game list). You may find something about it on archive.org, though I'm not sure, it's official (it looks like it is though, but that can be fake).

On the CDs of 1994, there were two videos ("avi" in low quality, but filmed well) about the company and their work, which can be found on Youtube today:

 

 

 

And there's a very recent (2021) longer interview with Ken Williams here:

 

 

Many of the early games were still a bit "raw" from today's perspective. Not so easy and comfortable to play. "Save early, save often".

 

But I especially liked "Laura Bow II: The Dagger of Amon Ra", which can be played nicely (as it's not one of that very early games mentioned). I'd say, it could finally compete with Lucas Art's Indy titles. But had a different atmosphere, with the main character being more like a young Miss Marple. I liked that. The music was also very nice. Here you can listen to a title (and watch the game graphics) (mainly the music was midi, this title with vocals being an exception):

 

 

There was also a version with speech on CD, not sure, if the Anthology featured that. Maybe. I remember, it was a bit tricky to run these old DOS games on a faster machine, like a Pentium II or something. Maybe, today with a decent DOSBox setup, it may even be easier to run them. The game was funny, it had supense, it was really nice, actually. I'd loved to have seen another Laura Bow title, but it seems, it didn't happen.

 

I also bought "King's Quest 8" (1998), which was a 3D game in the style of maybe Tomb Raider 1. It seems, it didn't build too much on the story-line of the previous titles of the series. I remember, it had some interesting scenes in it too though.

 

Well, that was my Sierra experience - which happened rather late (I never played things like Leisure Suite Larry - too cheesy for me). In the 2021 interview, Ken Williams said, at one point they sold the company.

Being retired, but too young for that still, they then entered their boat and sailed around the world. They were even successful in this activity, sailing races or something. Funny.

Edited by Pokeypy
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I have the King's Quest Collection buried away in storage.

 

The original King's Quest was fun; I played both the point & click and the text parser version.  I know that it was ported to the Sega Master System console but I never played those.

 

The point system was a hassle for me; getting the most points by solving puzzles or even getting that last lousy point was not on top of my list.  It was more beating the game.

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I've told this many times before in places here in these forums. But my first experience with Seirra's adventure games was in middle school. Took a basic computer class where we learned basic using Apple IIe computers with each connected to a color Amdek monitor and dual disk drives. As the course material only took up about 3/4 of the actual semester, we ended up spending the latter portion of that class all playing different sierra games. The only two I remember playing was Space Quest 1 and King's Quest II. Didn't get through King's Quest II but my friends and I all had a lot of fun with SQ1 and did manage to get through that game before the end of the year. 

 

In fact, that was an instant passing grade in the class if you managed to get through one of the sierra adventure games. Not even kidding... I know that some of the other students were playing Police Quest 1 as well, but that one didn't really interest me much.

 

Fast forward about 2 years and I had a nice 286 PC of my own by then and purchased my first Sierra adventure game. King's Quest IV. I was hooked all over again and have most of the Sierra library now in my collection. My favorites are:

 

SQ3, Quest for Camelot, Most of the Quest for Glory games, and King's Quest V although VI is still a lot of fun to play!

 

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Wow.  And funny you mention Police Quest 1 and education...

 

Police Quest 1 was issued to rookie police officers as a training tool.  That does make sense; during most of the game, you have to abide by proper police procedure such as checking your vehicle before departure, arresting a suspect, use of force, etc.  You couldn't play as a cowboy cop like pulling out your sidearm and blasting someone.

 

That also was a bad thing; some gamers and game critics slammed the Police Quest games for being boring as you have to adhere to proper police procedure.  I preferred the later VGA remake of Police Quest as well as Police Quest 3 as you had a point & click option.

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They also had nice Christmas demos (watch at the right time in a few months):

 

1988 version:

 

1992 version:

 

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I played quite a few of these. Space Quest 3 was probably my favorite. Played a decent amount of Gold Rush as well.

 

Mitch

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I was watching some playthroughs of Gold Rush on YouTube as well as reviews.  This game is tricky because you can die sometimes due to just rotten luck. For example, when you travelled either overland or around Cape Horn, you could die of cholera with the game specifically telling you "there's nothing you could have done about it".

 

Not unlike Leisure Suit Larry 2, you couldn't go back to previous areas so if you didn't collect something earlier, you can't win.  Again, if you tried to travel around Cape Horn without buying fruit from the store in Brooklyn, you died of scurvy.

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15 hours ago, Pokeypy said:

They also had nice Christmas demos (watch at the right time in a few months):

 

1988 version:

 

1992 version:

 

I never even knew about this until just a few years ago. How were these distributed back in the day? Was it something they only sent to computer stores to have as demos or?

 

 

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I played a bit of the original King's Quest ages ago, as well as Space Quest IV -- I also played through the NES port of King's Quest (5?).

 

I've tried to play through the games, but I greatly dislike the way most Sierra games seem to heavily feature:

 

  • Trial-and-error failure
  • Failure determined at an early point due to doing some small thing the wrong way (or failing to do something).

I much prefer Lucasfilm Games games, in which you couldn't "wreck" your game simply by playing.

 

... I'll EVENTUALLY play through another Sierra game... it's just that it feels like you have to use a guide to complete a Sierra game, whereas you can play a Lucas game just by exploring and thinking.

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Parser/Point-and-click adventures are in a weird place for me.  I remember first playing games like KQ1&2 and "Hero's Quest" (aka Quest for Glory) on my friend's Atari ST!  I never completed them, but was always fascinated by this genre—the games seemed absolutely massive and mysterious, and it seemed like you could do anything.  Of course, in hindsight, we now know that much of this was smoke and mirrors and that many of these games were very linear with responses only to certain actions.

 

The only games I've completed in this genre are Loom and The Secret of Monkey Island.  I liked both, but nearly every other game I've tried in the genre frustrates me, either due to "walking dead scenarios" (Sierra) or bizarre "try every item on every thing" moon logic.  I don't mind frequent deaths so much, since you can just restore your game.

 

I've made good progress in Leisure Suit Larry and Maniac Mansion, and I'd like to complete both some day.

Edited by newtmonkey

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Only Sierra adventure I played was Manhunter: San Francisco which I bought after reading a review of.  I loved the whole concept but the PC sound & graphics were a serious "downgrade" on my ST and all constant dead end deaths made me quit.

 

Is there any Sierra game that's easy to start off with for non-adventure players?  I'm thinking of getting a collection of ScummVM titles to go with my over all retro games.

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I’m a big fan of Sierra’s old adventure games. In my time, I have completed King’s Quest I, II & III; The Black Cauldron; Space Quest I, II, III & IV; Leisure Suit Larry 1, 2 & 3; Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Sail; Police Quest I & II; Swat; and Hero’s Quest I (known today as Quest for Glory).

 

I still need to complete King’s Quest 5-7; Man Hunter; William Tell; Gold Rush; Space Quest IV & V; Leisure Suit Larry 5 & 6 (Al Lowe skipped part 4); Police Quest Open Season; Police Quest Swat 2; Swat 3 & Swat 4; The Colonel’s Bequest; Codename Ice Man; Manhunter 2 San Franciso, Conquests of Camelot, Conquest of Longbow & William Beamish. I know there are a few others, but it looks like what I wrote explains how much gaming I still have ahead of me!

 

Sierra fans like us should form our own company and develop adventure games that pay homage to this once great, but late company.

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4 hours ago, MrMaddog said:

Only Sierra adventure I played was Manhunter: San Francisco which I bought after reading a review of.  I loved the whole concept but the PC sound & graphics were a serious "downgrade" on my ST and all constant dead end deaths made me quit.

 

Is there any Sierra game that's easy to start off with for non-adventure players?  I'm thinking of getting a collection of ScummVM titles to go with my over all retro games.

My personal suggestion would be The Black Cauldron. It’s very light on the puzzles and has a great story.

 

Once you’ve completed the aforementioned game, I suggest your next game either be King’s Quest (mid evil themed) or Space Quest (futuristic). Aside from having different themes, King’s Quest is a more serious adventure game, while Space Quest - even though it’s a serous adventure game in its own right - is full of tongue-in-cheek humor and quirky characters (think Space Balls). Leisure Suit Larry is also worth playing, if you don’t mind adult humor and risqué adult situations.

 

You really can’t go wrong either way.

Edited by ColecoGamer
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My first Sierra game was KQ V... on NES. I was completely enchanted by it. Later, I got a Windows PC and KQ I, the remake. Later in the 90s I bought the original King's Quest Collection. I finished KQ III, V (avoiding the dead ends), and VI from the collection. In the late 90s I bought KQ Mask of Eternity, and oh boy, is it bad. The voice acting is especially horrible.

 

I never completed KQ IV, I got stuck about mid way through so I need to go back with a guide handy.

 

I finished the AGI remakes of I, II, and III (and the other III remake), all are superb. Josh Mandel reprises his role voicing Graham.

 

I was never exposed to the other Sierra series, but thanks to GOG I'm going to try them.

 

I also never played the Lucasfilm games (GOG is going to help me here), but I must say I didn't mind the deaths in KQ, the animations and messages for screwing up were part of the fun!

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