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Having played adventure games now for over twenty years it's remarkable to see how they have changed. Back in the early 1980's adventure games were simply text affairs with no graphics at all. My first adventure game was The Count on the Vic 20. I enjoyed it but it really was infuriating having to know exactly what to type in to perform the desired action. Over the course of the 1980's the text adventure began to change, with graphics slowly being added to make the whole thing more agreeable. The transition from text adventures to the point-and-click adventures that we enjoy today was not a smooth one however and there have been several stages in between. Here we look at four Sierra Classic Collections that span the years 1984 to 1995. Taking a look at them now in 2007 is fascinating as you can see how the adventure game genre developed from the times when graphics were as simple as could be to a time when PC games were really starting to become user friendly.

The Sierra Classic Collections we'll look at, admittedly not in great detail as reviews of the games have been around for years, are King's Quest, Police Quest, Space Quest and Leisure Suit Larry. Despite these series being very different in nature, they do share some commonalities. The games use a point system where you are awarded points for solving the puzzles. You were shown how many you had earned and how many there were left to attain. Your character could die. As crazy as it seems you were punished for your mistakes so it paid to save often and have different saves. All of the series evolved from games where you had to type in commands and move the character around with the cursor keys or joystick and ended up being a mouse driven experience that did away with the need to enter text commands. Below you'll find a short summary for each of the series and for each game we've mentioned whether or not they are subtitled (surprisingly not all of the games are) and whether the games make use of a mouse or need text commands to be inputted.

 

King's Quest Collection

King's Quest is one of the most popular adventure games of all time and was first released back in 1984. Written by one of the most successful adventure game writers of all time, Roberta Williams, the series focused on the tales of the royal family of Daventry. There were eight games in the series altogether although this compilation contains the first seven in the series with King's Quest: Mask of Eternity not being included. Taking a retrospective look at the series is a bit of an eye opener and it's amazing to see how the genre developed. However, it's worth noting that the first game in the series is not the original game but the 1990 remake which included mouse support amongst other things.

King's Quest I: Quest for the Crown (VGA remake)
Control method: Mouse control supported and cursor keys can also be used for movement.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: The game uses a text command system where you tap the spacebar and type in commands.

King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne
Control method: The game allows you to control your character by using the cursor keys or joystick.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: The game uses a text command system where you tap the spacebar and type in commands.

King's Quest III: To Heir is Human
Control method: The game allows you to control your character by using the cursor keys or joystick.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: The game uses a text command system where you tap the spacebar and type in commands.

King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella
Control method: The game allows you to control your character by using the cursor keys or mouse.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: The game uses a text command system where you tap the spacebar and type in commands.

King's Quest V: Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder
Control method: Mouse control that uses icons to perform look, walk, talk and use actions.
Subtitled: There are no subtitles. The game uses speech only.
Other notes: Impossible for deaf gamers to play thanks to no subtitles being present.

King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow
Control method: Mouse control that uses icons to perform look, walk, talk and use actions.
Subtitled: You can choose between speech and text.
Other notes: None.

King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride
Control method: Mouse control, simply clicking on objects used them in an appropriate manner.
Subtitled: There are no subtitles. The game uses speech only.
Other notes: No subtitles mean it's not possible for deaf gamers to play the game.

As you can see, King's Quest V and King's Quest VII are not deaf gamer friendly as they offer no subtitles/captions. The series on the whole though is very impressive and a worthy addition to any adventure game collection.

Overall Rating 8.5/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification C
(Click the letter or here for details)

 

Police Quest Collection

Whilst the other collections on offer here are focused on fantasy worlds the Police Quest series attempted to put you in the shoes of a police officer. You had to think like a police officer and follow procedure otherwise you'd end up being killed. The first three games were designed by Jim Walls and put you in the shoes of Sonny Bonds who worked for the police force in the fictional town of Lytton. The fourth game in the series was designed by Daryl F. Gates and put you in the shoes of John Carey, a homicide detective. The game wasn't set in Lytton; it was set in Los Angeles.

Police Quest: In Pursuit of Death Angel (VGA remake)
Control method: Mouse control that uses icons to perform look, walk, talk and use actions.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: Due to this being the remake version it actually feels more modern that its sequel.

Police Quest II: The Vengeance
Control method: Mouse pointer can be used for movement as well as the cursor keys.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: The game uses a text command system where you tap the spacebar and type in commands.

Police Quest III: The Kindred
Control method: Mouse control that uses icons to perform look, walk, talk and use actions.
Subtitled: The game uses text exclusively.
Other notes: None.

Police Quest IV: Open Season
Control method: Mouse control that uses icons to perform look, walk, talk and use actions.
Subtitled: You can choose between speech and text.
Other notes: All dialogue is given verbally by default. Be sure to change it to text to be able to play the game.

The UK version of the Police Quest Collection comes with the wrong manual on the CD (it's actually the King's Quest Collection manual). You can either download the correct manual here or on the right hand side of this review. You will need the manual to get past certain copy protection methods. The manual also lists the text commands that can be used in the game and explains the police procedures that need to be followed. The Police Quest games are quite unlike any other adventure games you'll ever play with their emphasis on being as realistic as possible. The first three games in the series are exacting but equally rewarding too. 

Overall Rating 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
(Click the letter or here for details)

 

Space Quest Collection

If the Police Quest games were the serious adventure games in the Sierra catalogue then Space Quest games were definitely some of the silliest. Created by Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe, the series had a loyal following and was always good for a laugh. The series parodied the major science fiction movies and TV series and were the funniest adventure games of their time. Casting you as Roger Wilco, the heroic janitor, the series had you facing all kinds of enemies and offered many hilarious adventures. There were six games in the collection and they are all here although the first game is the updated remake and not the original version.

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter (VGA Remake)
Control method: Mouse control that uses icons to perform look, walk, talk, smell, taste and use actions.
Subtitled: The game uses text and is therefore fine for deaf gamers.
Other notes: There is some synthesised speech but it's subtitled.

Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge
Control method: The cursor keys or a joystick can be used for character movement.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: All commands have to be typed in.

Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon
Control method: You can use either the cursor keys or click with the mouse to move the character.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: All commands have to be typed in.

Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
Control method: The mouse is used to control your character with icons used for actions (as in the SQ1 remake).
Subtitled: The introduction is not subtitled. After the intro you can choose text instead of speech.
Other notes: It's unfortunate that deaf gamers miss out on the intro but it's still possible to enjoy the game.

Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
Control method: Mouse is used to move characters with walk, look, use, talk and give order icons used for actions.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: None.

Space Quest VI: The Spinal Frontier
Control method: Mouse is used to move characters with feet, eyes, hands, mouth and pocket buttons.
Subtitled: There is speech in the game but it's subtitled.
Other notes: First Space Quest game to have a fixed interface with buttons you can click to perform actions.

The Space Quest games are a real laugh and do their best to poke fun at series such as Star Trek and films such as Star Wars. It's refreshing to play adventure games that have such a good sense of humour given that most of them these days don't offer much in the way of humour. Apart from the introduction to Space Quest IV, which isn't subtitled, deaf gamers will be able to enjoy the humorous stories that are on offer here.

Overall Rating 9.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification C
(Click the letter or here for details)

 

Leisure Suit Larry Collection

Created for the adult market (and probably played by many who shouldn't have played it) the Leisure Suit Larry series cast you in the role of Larry Laffer whose sole purpose in life was to bed every beautiful female who came his way. The problem was he was a balding little schmuck who was low on tact and charm. The games were written by Al Lowe and were filled with sexual innuendo and comical moments. This collection includes the first five games in the series. The first game is not the original version but the 1991 remake.

Leisure Suit Larry: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards (VGA Remake)
Control method: Mouse is used for movement and walk, look, use, talk, unzip, taste and smell actions can be used.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: Due to this being a remake it actually feels more modern that several of the sequels.

Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (In Several Wrong Places)
Control method: Both the cursor keys and the mouse can be used to control character movement.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: All commands have to be typed in.

Leisure Suit Larry 3: Passionate Patti in Pursuit of the Pulsating Pectorals
Control method: Both the cursor keys and the mouse can be used to control character movement.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: All commands have to be typed in.

Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work
Control method: Mouse is used for movement and walk, look, use, talk, unzip, taste and smell actions can be used.
Subtitled: The game uses text only.
Other notes: Although it's called Leisure Suit Larry 5 there never was a Leisure Suit Larry 4.

Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!
Control method: Mouse is used for movement and walk, look, use, talk, unzip, taste and smell actions can be used.
Subtitled: The game displays all of its dialogue in text. Some synthesized speech snippets aren't subtitled though.
Other notes: First Leisure Suit Larry game to use a fixed interface.

The Leisure Suit Larry games seemed cheesy when they were released and they seem even cheesier today. Putting the sauciness aside for a moment, the games are enjoyable and definitely quite different from any other adventure games before or since. If your first taste of the Leisure Suit Larry series was the lamentable Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude then try and forget that sorry effort and pick up the Leisure Suit Larry Collection to see why a lot of people used to value the series so much.

Overall Rating 8.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification

DGC Classification B
(Click the letter or here for details)

 

It's worth mentioning that none of these games have been especially done for these collections. The games work in Windows XP by employing the DOSBox emulator. Thankfully each series comes with its own menu with which you can launch the game of your choice without any problems. Under Windows XP they work flawlessly but it's not the same story under Windows Vista where graphical glitches and stability problems occur. However, none of the compilations state that they support Vista so this can hardly be a complaint but it's worth mentioning in case you only run Vista on your PC. If there's one complaint I have to make it's that the paper manuals should have been included. Each compilation comes with a PDF manual on the CD and you'll need to print them off in order to get past the copy protection questions in some of the games. These compilations, which are only £14.99 each, are a godsend for anyone looking to play some of the great adventure games of yesteryear at a really affordable price.