Kings Quest I
King's Quest: Quest for the Crown (aka King's Quest Classic[1] and simply King's Quest on the title screen) is a 1987 computer game (rereleased and updated from the IBM PCjr and other systems 1984 version) (for more information about these editions see King's Quest Classic. However, technically all updated versions and ports of the original AGI King's Quest are also considered under that title (of King's Quest Classic).

Later re-releases and ports added the subtitle to the packaging. This article concerns mainly the later (1987) updated versions (as the original versions had some major differences that were changed in later releases). All versions were built on the same basic engine AGI. This does not cover the Sega Master System or SCI remakes of the game.

The story and the general design of the game is by Roberta Williams. Williams was the chief designer of all official releases of King's Quest, working with the series all the way up to the last official release.

This game and the next few (with a noteable change around the release of KQ4 SCI) were intended to look like interactive 'cartoons'. In Roberta's own words it was 'it's the ultimate cartoon - a cartoon they can participate in.'[2] (it was this style that may have influenced the look of later King's Quest 7.)


Become Sir Graham, bravest of knights. Locate and return to King Edward the lost treasures of the Kingdom of Daventry, so that you may inherit the throne. Be prepared. The journey will surely prove long and treacherous. You may choose among many paths open to you. The more clever and resourceful you prove yourself, the greater your reward.[3]


The Kingdom of Daventry is in serious trouble; its precious magical items — the Magic Mirror, Shield, and Chest — have been stolen. King Edward the Benevolent sends his bravest knight, Sir Graham, to retrieve them. If successful, he will become the next king. The original King's Quest 1 contained the introductory tale, The King's Appeal later releases included another version of the introductory tale.

Development and TechnologyEdit

Released in 1983 by IBM as a demonstration product for their IBM PCjr, King's Quest I is not only the first "animated" adventure game, it was also the first Sierra game to use the AGI engine. (However, the AGI engine wasn't known as such until King's Quest II.) Since the IBM PCjr didn't sell particularly well, the game was later released directly by Sierra for IBM PCs in addition to other platforms such as the Amiga, Atari ST and Sega Master System.

King's Quest I was innovative in its use of 16-color graphics on the PCjr and Tandy 1000; even CGA owners could enjoy 16-color graphics if they used a composite monitor or TV. The level of interaction with the graphics was an enormous leap over the mostly un-animated "rooms" of previous graphical interactive fiction.

In previous games, each "room" was a static pre-drawn background and text description, and your character was usually not visible. You navigated by typing compass directions, which would instantly transport you to adjacent rooms. In King's Quest I, Sir Graham was a fully animated character walking through the CGA-rendered worlds, which were filled with other fully animated characters.

Pressing an arrow key would cause Sir Graham to begin walking in that direction. You could be southwest of a tree, walk east, and Graham would appear to walk in front of the tree. Then you could walk a few steps north, walk back west, and Graham would appear to walk behind the tree. Compass commands were no longer necessary, you moved to adjacent "rooms" by making Graham walk near an edge of the screen. Typing "OPEN DOORS" when near the castle would not cause a static pre-drawn image of a castle entryway with closed doors to be replaced with a static pre-drawn image of a castle entryway with open doors; it would cause the doors to visibly swing open.

The game relied primarily on textual input as its interface. Detractors often say that this way of interacting with games is time-consuming and frustrating, however others would argue that it requires more thought on the part of the player because it requires more than point and clicking. One review noted, "Things need to be worded a certain way. You might see a brown CGA lump on the ground and want it, but typing 'PICK UP ROCK' could very well yield you a 'You can't do that - at least not now.' error. But a little patience and a logical mind can always overcome this limitation. 'LOOK AT THE GROUND' You'll see it's not a rock after all; it's actually a walnut. Don't try and be verbose - the parser isn't as intelligent as today's gaming AI technology, or even Infocom's classic parser interfaces. You can't tell the game 'Offer to help the woodcutter with his poverty issues' without getting an 'I don't understand 'offer'.' error, but 'HELP MAN' does the trick." [1]


1983 ReleaseEdit

  • (1983, IBM PCjr) - The original IBM-branded release for the PCjr came with a full keyboard overlay template. "King's Quest". It has some interesting differences with later ports (King's Quest (PCjr)), including different set of keyboard commands, save/restore functions, scoring system, different style text box (and different script in places), etc.  Has its own original soundtrack and sound effects (hear waterfalls, crickets, etc). It included its own original manual, with the story The King's Appeal. See King's Quest Classic. Note: Some do not consider this an official release as the PCjr wasn't officially released yet, only demonstration models were public.

See King's Quest Classic.

1984 ReleasesEdit

  • (1984, IBM PCjr) - A minor update to the original packaging. Includes a smaller function key template.
  • (1984, Tandy) - A port/rerelease repackaged for the Tandy 1000.[citation needed]
  • (1984, PC, Apple, Amiga, Atari) - A set of ports for IBM PCs, Apple IIe/IIc, Amiga and Atari computers.

See King's Quest Classic for 1984 releases.

1987 ReleasesEdit

  • 1987, PC) - A full re-release adding support for the Enhanced Graphics Adaptor (EGA). Ran under DOS, unlike the 1983-1984 releases, which booted directly at startup. The subtitle "Quest for the Crown" appears on the packaging for the first time.
  • (1987, Apple IIGS) - Fully enhanced version of King's Quest Classic with updated sound effects and music (including new intro).


Behind the scenesEdit

There were apparently two versions of the KQ1 hintbook written by Al Lowe of Leisure Suit Larry fame, magic marker and the hidden window versions.

King's Quest I AGI has been re-released (2010) in a collection by Activision through The King's Quest 1+2+3 collection.[2]

Look commandEdit

The 'look' command cannot be used by itself (the game gives a warning "You need to be more specific.") and must paired with another word, such as 'look room' or in a few instances, 'look around' (for a general description of the room the player is in), or more specific commands based on objects on the screen such as 'look lake'. Some descriptions in the game can only be seen if Graham is standing next to the object. For example on screens with more than one tree, there is a generic default description if you type "look tree", but if you are standing next a tree, there may be an alternate description, specific to the tree. Move to another tree, and you may get yet another description for the same command of 'look tree'. KQ1SCI remake took this further, offering many descriptions on screen, but to access some of them you had to 'right click on an object to look at it'. Another example in the original is being close to an object my solicit a different description, than being far away from it. For example being close or on top of the clover patch would offer a different description than standing away from it elsewhere on the screen. The game's different descriptions based on Graham's physical perspective on the screen offered more descriptions that could be read by simply typing out general look commands.

In some cases, looking at an object might give a 'random' description. For example on some screens "look tree", might give 2-3 different generic descriptions from anywhere in the screen. This can be seen by just standing in one place and typing 'look tree' multiple times in a row, too see the various messages.

Seasonal placementEdit

The age of Graham during KQ1, comes from the KQ6 hintbook and KQ7 hint guide. The KQ7 guide states that he went on the adventure only a few days past his 19th birthday.

The King's Quest companion also states that walked through a field of wildflowers, fresh with their springtime smells.[4] This reference implies that Graham's birthday takes place during the spring (but likely late spring on the edge of summer).

There is at least one reference to the hot sun in KQ1AGI.

The King's Quest V Hintbook by Roberta Williams states that Graham went on his adventure during the spring (which would support the reference in the King's Quest Companion to "springtime smells", and KQ1 SCI to the "...spring flowers"...). However, other references in the KQV hintbook are not entirely consistent with other sources. It may indicate however, that Roberta/Josh Mandel took the companion into consideration on that seasonal fact, when making the KQ1.


  • Inside King's Quest[3]



Roberta Williams


Charles Tingley

Ken MacNeill

Chris Iden


Doug MacNeill

Grey Rowland


Jeff Stephenson

Sol Ackerman

Chris Iden


Linda Ackerman

Mark Crowe

Robert Heitman

Scott Murphy


  1. KQC2E, pg
  2. TOGBOQK1E, pg
  3. KQ1 grey box back
  4. KQC3E, 25