Roberta Williams, designer of the King's Quest series says, "As kid, my all-time favourite reading was fairy tales, literally fairy tales. I do not know why, but I read every fairy tale I could get my hands on. I read them and re-read them".
Arriving on four disks, the Amiga version of Roberta Williams' own, well known, fairy tale is - well - big. You will need 1Mb of RAM if you want to play this game. The main reason for the size of KQIV is the space allocated for the graphics. Very nicely done, well detailed with a large proportion of the screen sporting animation of some sort.
The good points regarding KQIV's animation are, obviously, its aesthetic value. The bad points really revolve around the game slowing somewhat as you move your character around the screen. Your character? Oh, yes, a good time to introduce Rosella, methinks.
The long introductory animation sequence (which can be skipped if you wish) explains how Rosella came to be in this strange land dressed in simple peasant clothes.
Basically, King Graham is dying but Rosella can cure him if she finds a rare fruit. In the meantime, she can also help the good fairy Genesta, who is dying (catching, is it not?). She needs a special talisman, stolen by the evil witch (boo, hiss) Lolotte, who is apparently completely behind the fashions, as she is not dying. As Genesta is the only one who can send Rosella back from whence she came you will need to help out the good fairy first, then ol' Graham.
Movement is initiated, in the time-
Many of the puzzles are based on old fairy tales. Aficionados, therefore, will have a head start, although one or two puzzles are not too fair. You will need to find a bridle in one location, however discovering its hiding place is pot luck.
Another irritant is the climbing. One wrong move and you are a dead duck - however, one long climb should only be made at a certain time of day, so many players will find themselves climbing (and cursing as they fall to their deaths umpteen times) twice. An unnecessary hardship as there are no clues in this area either. The old "save as you go" policy should be put into operation.
Also, you will have to sit through some tedious animation sequences, such as in the dwarves' house. You will see a dwarf walk to the fireplace, grab a bowl his soup and then make his merry (or should that be dopey) way to the table. This sequence takes a while for one dwarf = but there are seven of the little blighters! Grab a book or read the manual or something, until they have finished.
The actual ending, like the beginning, is an automatic affair - you just sit back and watch. KQIV is an epic adventure that uses some wonderful animation sequences. Some of the puzzles are rather clever while others are just plain tedious. The music is well done, giving atmospheric touches to the storyline.
This one is for those players who despise violence in computer games. As Roberta says herself: "The only violence in the game is at the end, and then it is unintentional. YOU do not mean to commit violence, but you do".
Overall, I like KQIV, but it has its irritations. Some of the puzzles are rather flaky and the odd animation is boring after a while, but the good gameplay shows through. This, more than anything, will be the thing that hooks you. It is also good to see female characters take the lead in adventure games. I will leave you with Roberta's thoughts on Rosella. "I like the heroine, Rosella. I guess because she is part of me that is coming out. I really identified with her. Sometimes she is delicate, but she is strong, knows what she wants, she is not afraid what she has to do. She is courageous. It was fun for me to do a female character".