Oh, my dearest Hero’s Quest. My first ever experience with a non-Commodore PC was some old IBM beast my grandfather had that ran Windows 3.1. I remember at the time that he got it it was state-of-the-art, cutting edge stuff. I have a fairly close (and large) family and I can remember my brother, myself, and my cousins Neil and John especially taking a shining to the computer. The computer had a whole slew of programs like Resume Maker, Form Tool, and some primitive spreadsheet programs. It also had a whole slew of pirated games, most of them classic adventure games. Such titles as Darkseed, Police Quest, The Colonel’s Bequest, Code Name: Iceman, Leisure Suit Larry, and of course, my beloved Hero’s Quest.
Of all of my family gatherings and Saturday afternoon drop-ins at my grandpa’s house, this was the one game that occupied the majority of my (our) time.
Hero’s Quest was published by Sierra Online in March 1989 for a variety of platforms, such as Amiga, Apple, Atari ST, but the version I will be focusing on is the good old PC DOS version. The game came on 4 3.5″ floppy’s (and/or 10 5 1/4 floppys) and came with the Famous Adventurers Correspondence School manual, a reference card as well as a technical manual.
Shortly after it’s release, Sierra had to re-release the title under the name Quest for Glory due to their failure to copyright the name Hero’s Quest. Milton Bradley had since copyrighted the name Hero Quest for their adventure board game series. However, both names followed the convention of all of Sierra’s adventure games of time, which was incorporating the word “quest” into the title (King’s Quest, Space Quest, Police Quest, etc.).
Hero’s Quest is an adventure game where-in your goal is simply to become a great hero. You do this by completing 3 main objectives in the game. These objectives are rescuing the Baron’s son, freeing the Baron’s daughter from a group of mercenaries known as the Brigand, and defeating a witch named Baba Yaga who has put a curse on the peaceful valley.
The road to each objective involve a multitude of different trials and side quests that you must complete in order to progress in the game. One of the most innovative things about Hero’s Quest / Quest for Glory 1 is that you can reach these objectives in a variety of different ways depending on which character class you choose at the beginning of the game.
At the onset of your adventure you are given a choice to choose between playing as a fighter, a magic user, or a thief. The character-type you pick vastly changes how you will go about completing each of your objectives, and as such offers a fairly high level of replay value. my favorite has always been the thief, however, because the thief’s abilities in stealth and lock-picking allow you to break into houses at night and plunder the loot.
Hero’s Quest was also groundbreaking in that it was the first adventure game to incorporate RPG-like stat building into it’s game-play. A multitude of stats can be increased such as Stamina, Agility, Strength, Intelligence, Hit Points, Weapon Use, etc. You increase these stats not in the standard RPG method of collecting experience points and advancing through a leveling system, but instead by just playing the game. The more you run, the more your stamina increases, the more you attempt to climbs trees and throw rocks and daggers the more you climbing and throwing abilities increase, respectively.
At the start of the game you are allotted 30 points to award to the ability of your choosing. It is possible to give magic use, stealth, and lock picking to a fighter and make the character able to progress through the game acquiring all 500 of the possible 500 points, but the amount of skill honing you would have to do to accomplish this task would be extremely time consuming.
The game utilizes a typical (for the time) text parser that allows you to input commands like “throw dagger” or “ask about _____”. You can move your character around using either mouse clicks or the keyboards arrow keys. Asking certain questions, interacting with specific objects and completing portions of the game nets you points. At the top of the screen you point total is shown out of 500. It is not necessary t0 get all 500 points to beat the game, hell you could probably do it with far less than half that. The real purpose of the point system to ad another dimension to the game.
When you encounter a hostile life form in Hero’s Quest you enter the combat screen. Your view switches to an over the shoulder view with your enemy visible in front of you. You have an HP bar, a stamina bar, and an MP bar if you are able to use combative magic. You attack your foe by pressing the “up” arrow key, and parry and dodge using the “down”, “left”, and “right” keys. The combat sounds really simplistic, and honestly it is, but it is still a lot of fun and the system takes a surprising amount of skill to master.
Another really cool feature in the entire series of Hero’s Quest / Quest for Glory is the ability to import your previous save file into the game’s direct sequel. In fact, Quest for Glory 2 picks up right where the first games ends, literally the next minute. This feature really gives you the incentive to play through the games in order so you can get the stat increases and bonuses afforded to importing save files.
As far as classic adventure games go, Hero’s Quest / Quest for Glory is one of the best and it is not to be missed by fans of the genre.