King's Quest Omnipedia
King's Quest: Quest for the Crown
Developer(s) Sierra On-Line
Publisher(s) Sierra On-Line
Designer(s) Roberta Williams
Writer(s) Roberta Williams
Lead Programmer(s) Charles Tingley, Ken MacNeill
Lead Artist(s) Doug MacNeill, Greg Rowland
Platform(s) MS-DOS
Release 1987
Genre(s) Text parser adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

King's Quest: Quest for the Crown (aka King's Quest I[1] and simply King's Quest on the title screen) is a 1987 PC/Tandy aventure game developed and published by Sierra On-Line for re-release. This is 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 version (as the original version had some major differences that were changed in later release). All re-release versions were built on the same basic engine AGI.

The story and the general design of the game is by Roberta Williams (though Anette Childs wrote/helped write the story in the second manual). 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 notable 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 ed the look of later King's Quest 7.)


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 game contained the introductory tale, The King's Appeal later releases included another version of the introductory tale.

Development and Technology[]

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]

Releases Information[]

  • (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.

Behind the scenes[]

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 command[]

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, or change based on distance. 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'. Similarly, looking at a clover patch from some distance away would offer a different description than when standing on top of it. 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'.

In some cases, looking at an object might give any one of multiple descriptions. For example on some screens, just standing in one place and typing 'look tree' multiple times in a row might give 2–3 different descriptions.

Seasonal placement[]

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.[3] 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]


  • Design / Writing / Dialogue / Story: Roberta Williams
  • Programming: Sol Ackerman, Chris Iden, Ken MacNeill, Jeff Stephenson, and Charles Tingley
  • Graphics / Artwork: Doug MacNeill and Greg Rowland
  • Original Version: Arthur Abraham, Chris Iden, Doug MacNeill, Ken MacNeill, Greg Rowland, and Charles Tingley
  • New Version: Sol Ackerman, Chris Iden, and Jeff Stephenson
  • Special Thanks to: Linda Ackerman, Mark Crowe, Robert Eric Heitman, Scott Murphy
  • Thank you for playing King's Quest from: Ken and Roberta Williams, Sol Ackerman, Chris Iden, Jeff Stephenson, Mark Crowe, Bob Ballew, Mikel Knight, Susan Lee, Russ Truelove, Larry Weissenborn

Manuals and Guides[]

External Links[]


  1. KQC2E, pg
  2. TOGBOQK1E, pg
  3. KQC3E, 25