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Old 12-05-2005, 07:57 PM   #1
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Default More on Sierra EGA versions of VGA games

Some people from the "Adventure Game Scene of the Day - Wednesday" thread might be interested in this.

I'd guess that this is the list of adventure games Sierra made with separate EGA and VGA versions, based on some research at MobyGames:

-King's Quest V
-Space Quest I remake
-Space Quest IV
-Police Quest III
-Leisure Suit Larry I remake
-Leisure Suit Larry V
-Heart of China
-Conquests of the Longbow
-and the quasi-adventures Castle of Dr. Brain and EcoQuest I

If there are any I should have noted and didn't, please list them below.

Also, based on a post of mine in an earlier thread, I've created a page with a lot of screenshots from Space Quests 1 and 4, EGA and VGA.

I'd put pictures from more diverse games up, but these are the only Sierra games for which I have both 16- and 256-color copies to compare, and I'd rather not steal MobyGames' pictures.
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Old 12-05-2005, 08:46 PM   #2
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I have boxed copies of the Police Quest 1 remake and Dagger of Amon Ra, and both say "VGA and EGA" on their stickers (unlike the other boxed games that just say VGA on the sticker). My Space Quest 1 remake and Castle of Dr. Brain stickers say "VGA (EGA/Tandy sold separately)". Interesting that some had both versions in the same box and some didn't.

Would you like me to try to install the EGA versions of these games and take screenshots that compare them? I'm not sure if I'll be able to, or if the VGA version will be forced on me during install because the installer recognizes my graphics card can handle them. I'm willing to try, though.
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Old 12-05-2005, 10:58 PM   #3
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As far as I understand, when there were two versions sold separately (the early VGA games), Sierra took the time to convert the screens to 16-colour (which possibly meant quite a lot of work to make them look not too bad); of course, that meant selling two different versions (or the game would have been almost twice the size).

But for later games, when almost nobody used EGA anymore, they just put VGA graphics and an EGA driver that did a quick and dirty 16 colour conversion. If you try launching LB2 with the EGA driver, you'll probably see that the graphics look much uglier than what they do in the Sierra-made EGA conversions that ATMachine posted.
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Old 12-06-2005, 12:23 AM   #4
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I own the EGA-only version of King's Quest V and Space Quest IV in Spanish (and English, those versions and some latter VGA had an option to switch languages).

It's funny because when I bought them I thought they were the VGA ones and got very angry to find out those "crappy 16 color grapphics". Now I'm glad they weren't because they're rarities, perfect for collectors (and, besides, later I got the chance to buy the VGA versions too ).

Seems that disk 2 of KQV got screwed up with the time though, I cannot install the game properly :/
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Old 12-06-2005, 04:03 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurufinwe
As far as I understand, when there were two versions sold separately (the early VGA games), Sierra took the time to convert the screens to 16-colour (which possibly meant quite a lot of work to make them look not too bad); of course, that meant selling two different versions (or the game would have been almost twice the size).

But for later games, when almost nobody used EGA anymore, they just put VGA graphics and an EGA driver that did a quick and dirty 16 colour conversion. If you try launching LB2 with the EGA driver, you'll probably see that the graphics look much uglier than what they do in the Sierra-made EGA conversions that ATMachine posted.
You're right. Any game that says "VGA and EGA" on its box is one that shipped with the special EGA driver to convert VGA graphics "on the fly." Whereas ones that say "EGA (VGA sold separately)" are the only genuine Sierra EGA conversions of VGA games.

So it'd be pretty useless to take EGA shots of PQ1VGA and LB2, Fov. Incidentally, the EGA "quick conversion" driver that shipped with these games stretches the resolution to 640x400... but it's still uglier than the normal VGA driver.
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Old 12-06-2005, 07:43 AM   #6
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Yeah, I loaded up PQ1 last night and came to the same conclusion. You can switch between the two "versions" by setting your video to 16 colors or 256 colors. Man, are those stripped-down screens ugly.
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Old 12-06-2005, 09:09 AM   #7
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I was always so upset that I bought the EGA version of Space Quest 4 (and still am!), back when I was a kid. The VGA version looks so much better. Good stuff. Brings back loads of memories.
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Old 12-06-2005, 10:33 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATMachine
-King's Quest V
-Space Quest I remake
-Space Quest IV
-Police Quest III
-Leisure Suit Larry I remake
-Leisure Suit Larry V
-Heart of China
-Conquests of the Longbow
-and the quasi-adventures Castle of Dr. Brain and EcoQuest I
First, Eco-Quest is an adventure, not a quasi-adventure, and Castle of Dr. Brain is simply non-adventure.
Second, I believe the only adventure missing from your list is Rise of the Dragon.

Those versions were sold seperately because of the machines many people had back then. I believe this was also the case when KQ4 went out - a lot of people didn't have machines strong enough to support the SCI engine. Me and fov had a debate about wether the AGI version of KQ4 was actually sold in stores or just offered as replacement, but I think it was sold in stores, just like the above mentioned EGA versions.

Incidentally, the true EGA versions of VGA games also supported 4 colors CGA.

EDIT: The second remake of Mother Goose also had an EGA version (now that's a quasi-adventure)

Last edited by Aurebesh; 12-06-2005 at 11:37 AM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 01:16 PM   #9
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Thanks for the info, Aurebesh. I added Rise of the Dragon to the list of EGA conversions on my SQ1 remake/SQ4 screenshots page.

(I'm not even going to touch Mixed-Up Mother Goose. That game had almost too many versions over time to count! )

Oh, that reminds me. If you play KQ6 in EGA, the famous 3D intro is presented as a text narrative! I can't take any screenshots at present, however.

Hmm... a moment ago I just looked for my KQ6 disks and found KQ5 EGA disks instead! Let's see if they work...
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Old 12-06-2005, 01:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATMachine
Oh, that reminds me. If you play KQ6 in EGA, the famous 3D intro is presented as a text narrative! I can't take any screenshots at present, however.
Was it the CD version that had an EGA option? I remember when I was going through the game's sound files for my website I was puzzled by coming across several files that sounded like the Narrator describing the intro scene.

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Old 12-06-2005, 01:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATMachine
Oh, that reminds me. If you play KQ6 in EGA, the famous 3D intro is presented as a text narrative! I can't take any screenshots at present, however.
Interesting! I'd love to see screenshots.

The Mac version of KQ6 has a slightly different intro, as well. It's still in 3D but it's shorter and the narration is somewhat different. In the Mac version, Alexander sees Cassima in the mirror but doesn't hear her calling out for him. It gives the game a different spin... he heads off to the Land of the Green Isles even though he doesn't know if she wants him to come or not. Kind of raises the stakes for Alexander.

A while back I managed to extract the movie from the Mac version and put it in a format that can be viewed in Windows Media Player. You can download it here. There's no sound, unfortunately, and the framerate is a little messed up so it runs slower than the original movie. But at least it allows you to see how this movie is different than the one on the PC version. (It's a 20MB file but the zip is only 3MB.)
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Old 12-06-2005, 02:43 PM   #12
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On closer inspection, my KQ6 CD version doesn't have an EGA option, but it does have a grayscale option, so I managed to take these screenshots of the KQ6 text intro:









No narrator reads these aloud in the game, by the way. It's only text, although the music plays at the correct moments.

As for my newfound copy of KQ5EGA...
I guess it works.
Funny, that. I ordered KQ6 disk version off eBay, but I never noticed that the seller instead sent me KQ5EGA disks until now! What serendipity.

**************************
Oh, here's the full text introduction for KQ6, typed out by me, with all sentence fragments and misplaced commas intact.
**************************

Long ago, in the castle of a kingdom called Daventry....

A young prince sits in the throne room, head in hands, lost in melancholy.

His mother, Queen Valanice, enters, and hastens to his side.

"Alexander! Here you are! You're still not thinking about Cassima, are you?"

"Hmmm? I suppose I am."

"Son, it's been MONTHS. You've GOT to pull yourself together. After all, you only met her that once...."

"I know."

"Have you discovered anything about the Land of the Green Isles?"

"No! No one's even heard of it! It's like she's just vanished!"

"I wish I could help. Please try to think about something else, dear."

"I'll try, Mother."

With a feeling of helplessness, the Queen turns and leaves her son to his thoughts.

Suddenly, the magic mirror on the wall flashes to life....

The prince leaps to his feet and runs to place his hand against the shimmering glass.

Beneath his fingers, the mirror dissolves into a scene of a beautiful girl in a tower's window, looking out on a starry night sky. It is Cassima!

"Alexander.... I feel so alone. I don't know what to do.... Alexander, I wish you were here...."

The picture fades to glass, the princess to the prince's own reflection.

"Cassima! Wait!"

But the image is gone! Prince Alexander turns toward the throne room's doors.

"MOTHER! MOTHER, COME QUICK!"

Queen Valanice rushes in, her face full of concern.

"Alexander, what on earth? You're white as a ghost!"

"Mother, I saw Cassima! She was in the mirror!"

"In the mirror? The magic mirror?"

"Yes! And it showed me how to find her!"

"How?"

"The stars! I saw the stars outside her window! I can navigate by the stars!"

"Oh, Alexander.... If you really go...."

"It will be alright, Mother. I promise."

And so, the prince leaves his homeland, bound for a land he knows only by the stars.

Three long months Prince Alexander sails the known seas.... and beyond.

Until finally, on a day like every other day at sea, as the young prince searches through his spyglass.

He sights land!

"Land ho! LAND HO! LAND HO!"

Eagerly, the ship bounds towards the distant shore.

Day turns to night and the ship nears the shore. As the sky blackens, so too, does the sea. The ship is tossed amidst monstrous currents and whirlpools, as though the land itself were shoving the vessel away.

The battle is courageous, but the ship, and the prince, are drawn down and down....

Down into the sea....
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Old 12-06-2005, 02:50 PM   #13
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ATM: The Narrator *doesn't* read the text? Huh. That must have been a late-minute decision because there are Narrator WAVs for all those text lines you posted. Of course, there's quite a few sounds in the KQ6 AUD file that aren't used (must write up that page one day...)

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Old 12-06-2005, 04:50 PM   #14
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It's interesting to me that this text is so different from the text in the Mac version. It's almost as if the two intros were created completely independently of one another, by complete different teams. While that may true, wouldn't they have had access to the same script?! There are some similarities (like the opening line), but some differences that just seem so... different.

(You can see the text of the Mac version in that movie I posted, but for example, the opening lines are "Long ago in the castle of a kingdom called Daventry... Prince Alexander was a young man obsessed." Gives quite a different feeling than "A young prince sits in the throne room, head in hands, lost in melancholy.")
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Old 12-06-2005, 07:00 PM   #15
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Wow. I just looked at that Mac video, and the first word that comes to mind is "amateurish."

The narrator summed up events so quickly that it was like reading the "KQ6 Intro: Cliffs Notes for Dummies." Plus all the effects with the text (the different colors, morphing of letters, and visual embellishment of "Land Ho!") seem better suited to a PowerPoint presentation than a game cutscene.

And why did the Mac team have to cut so much from the original video in the first place? I'd guess it was purely for technical reasons; from an editorial standpoint, doing so completely violates the maxim of "show, don't tell."

On the other hand, the PC text intro is actually pretty decent, regardless of a few problems with grammar. Unfortunately, generally only those with really poor computers got to read it...

Oh, I'm working on finishing KQ5EGA in order to get screenshots for a new comparison page with it and the VGA releases, but it'll take another couple of days.

Last edited by ATMachine; 12-06-2005 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 07:43 PM   #16
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Ha. Different strokes for different folks, I guess. The Mac version was the version I played, so to me, that's THE intro. The ones on the PC seem either stripped down (I much prefer the morphing colored text to the gray text with that weird rope effect above and below it) or overly melodramatic (as I said above, Cassima calling out to Alexander takes all the mystery out of the intro, not to mention that the conversation between Alexander and his mother in the talkie version makes my skin crawl).

Thing is, I'm not convinced that the PC version is THE version and the Mac version was changed. Before Windows 95, Macs were at least as popular, if not more so, than IBM compatibles (they weren't even called PCs yet!) The PC talkie version came out after the Mac version, true. But the PC disk version and Mac disk version of KQ6 were released at around the same time, and could well have been developed simultaneously. I don't think we can assume that the PC version came first.

EDIT: Just to clarify, the most commonly played version of KQ6 today -- the talkie version on CD -- was NOT the original KQ6 release. The movie on the talkie version was expanded from the movie on the disk version. So it's not that the shorter movie was cut down from the original, but that the longer movie was expanded from the original.
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Old 12-06-2005, 08:02 PM   #17
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Your point doesn't hold too much weight, I'm afraid: the original KQ6 disk version intro for PC is pretty much the same as the PC CD-ROM version intro in content.

The major differences are:
-speech read by actors in the PC CD (during the floppy intro, it's read by Sierra employees, I think)
-Valanice and Alex are standing when they first talk on the floppy version instead of sitting
-A small phrase of narrative commentary on Alex's longing for Cassima is cut in the floppy version, as is the pan down from the chandelier to Alex's head
-The CD intro focuses on seagulls for about 30 seconds before cutting to Alex's ship; the floppy version doesn't
-The shots of the ship and the sea are much uglier in the floppy intro

So as far as I know, all versions of KQ6 have pretty much the same content in the intro, except for the Mac port and the EGA-mode text narrative.

I could post screenshots, but it's getting late. Sierra used to distribute the KQ6 floppy intro as a rolling demo of sorts, but I think it's entirely gone from the Internet now.

EDIT: I was wrong - http://www.filelibrary.com/Contents/DOS/81/9.html should have what you need to see the KQ6 floppy intro. Just download the KQ6 self-extracting .exe files to the directory you want the demo files to go in. Also, there may be some stuttering of animation, but it's playable.

Last edited by ATMachine; 12-06-2005 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 08:28 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATMachine
-speech read by actors in the PC CD (during the floppy intro, it's read by Sierra employees, I think)
I'm surprised it was read by anybody on the disk version. I have seen that demo before, though. I didn't think there were voices on a floppy disk version of any Sierra game, but the versions I played on the Mac are clearly not the same as the PC versions, so I could very well be wrong.

But still... you want to talk about showing not telling? To me, that dialogue between Alexander and Valanice, coupled with the "Oh Alexander, I'm so alone blah blah blah" from Cassima, is nothing BUT telling. I still prefer the more subtle intro that was shipped with the Mac version.

The reason I said the longer movie is an expansion of the original, not vice versa, is that I remember Sierra marketing it that way when the multimedia version came out. Obviously, they were working on all this stuff at the same time. But knowing that the CD version came out months after the Mac and PC disk versions did, I don't think it's realistic to look at the extended movie that shipped with the CD version of the game and say "Why did they change it so much from what it was intended to be when they made the Mac port?" The extended movie, although it may be the version we're most familiar with now, was not the first version to be released.

EDIT: I'd love it if a Sierra employee came in here and set the record straight on how these releases all went down. Josh... are you watching?!

Last edited by fov; 12-06-2005 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 12-06-2005, 10:28 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATMachine
The major differences are:
-speech read by actors in the PC CD (during the floppy intro, it's read by Sierra employees, I think)
-Valanice and Alex are standing when they first talk on the floppy version instead of sitting
-A small phrase of narrative commentary on Alex's longing for Cassima is cut in the floppy version, as is the pan down from the chandelier to Alex's head
-The CD intro focuses on seagulls for about 30 seconds before cutting to Alex's ship; the floppy version doesn't
-The shots of the ship and the sea are much uglier in the floppy intro
Don't forget that, in the floppy version, the camera followed Valanice all the way down the room as she 'rushed' towards Alexander, which was much cooler than the silly dissolve effect we got on the CD version.

And I'd forgotten how awful the acting was. Thanks for finding those files.
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Old 12-07-2005, 12:33 AM   #20
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Heh, some of these EGA shots look a little different to the ones I played with. I'm actually surprised that with some of the games they took the time to reduce the games to 16 colours, but good on them!

I'm just annoyed that all those years where we couldn't get non-vga games, and were told they didn't exist. This is cool bit of information, though!

Thanks for the screenies, AT!
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