The King's Quest games are probably the most known Sierra On-Line games ever made. Not only did the first King's Quest save the company from bankruptcy, it was also the spark for the longest and most succesful adventure game series ever published by Sierra. The games had many remakes and probably the widest range of rereleases and collection editions.
Written by legendary writer and founder of Sierra On-Line, Roberta Williams, King's Quest is the story of a royal family in the Kingdom of Daventry. King Graham, Queen Valenice, Prince Alexander and Princess Rosella have adventures where fairytales and myths are integrated in a beautiful storyline and an immense number of puzzles.
The roots of King's Quest
King's Quest actually has its roots in 1980 from "High-Res Adventure #2: The Wizard and the Princess", the 2nd game ever published by Sierra when the company was still called On-Line Systems. Interaction Magazine, Fall 1994, confirmed in an article that "Wizard and the Princess" can be considered the prequel to King's Quest I.
Wizard and the Princess takes place in a country called "Serenia" and was rereleased in 1983 for the IBM Jr computer under the title: "Adventures in Serenia". Shortly after this rerelease, King's Quest was made, also for the IBM Jr, and it is clear that Roberta's was inspired by the story of Wizard and the Princess while writing the game, possibly even wrote it purposely as a sequel.
It is widely believed that the main characters of the Wizard and the Princess are related to characters in King's Quest. The Wizard is related to the wizard Mannannan (KQ3) and Mordack (KQ5), which are all members of the Society of the Black Cloak". The princess was the Queen who died of illness in the prelude story of King's Quest 1, and the hero of "Wizard and the Princess" (known as the Wanderer) is the old king in King's Quest 1 himself. King Graham even returns to Serenia in King's Quest V to confront Mordack, a relative of the Wizard.
King Graham saves Sierra On-Line
Indeed, very much so. King Graham did far more than just saving people in distress. He saved Sierra On-Line, which was on the brink of bankruptcy, aswell. In the early 80s, a large number of companies fought to become the leaders in the new and very attractive market of home computing. Venture capitalists had seized some control of Sierra On-Line after lending Sierra On-Line money for the development of early games. They wanted the company to turn their attention towards cartridge-based computers, and invested lots of venture capital on the development of software for systems such as the Atari VCS, Coleco Adam and VIC-20. These investments did not pan out, and in mid-1984 Sierra On-Line was on the brink of bankruptcy. Stuck with piles of cartridges for millions of dollars that no one wanted to buy, the history of Sierra On-Line nearly ended.
Fortunately, around a year before the disaster, Sierra On-Line had been contacted by IBM to create a showcase game for their new PCjr. IBM would fund the entire development of the game, pay royalties for it and advertise for the game on TV. They wanted a ground-breaking game. It was a great opportunity, but also a big risk for Sierra On-Line. Ken and Roberta accepted and started right away on the project.