Following the basic formula of the first game, King’s Quest II was an instant hit when it was released. Gradually, however, the game has earned the reputation among fans as the worst game in the series. It is criticized for not fixing any of the annoyances of the first game, and also for including too many disparate fantasy elements (Dracula, Neptune, and Little Red Riding Hood in the same game?).
Yet despite this status, I enjoyed King’s Quest II immensely. This game is like a camp classic. All the diverse references collide to create a pastiche that’s impossible to take seriously. The story is framed by a typical fantasy premise and filled-in almost entirely with other recognizable allusions. Musical clichés abound as well with Chopin’s funeral march returning from the first game (I love the inappropriate upbeat ending tacked onto the end) and Tchaikovsky’s “Love Theme” from Romeo and Juliet. One Easter egg even has the Batmobile roll out of a cave with music and everything. In entertainment value, it’s a definite improvement over the original.
A slight improvement is also made in the construction of the world. While the north and south directions still wrap around, the east and west are blocked off. This makes it a bit easier to navigate and also gives a bit more of a shape to the world, a world that seems a little more varied and interesting. However, the increased linearity removes a dimension of interactivity. On the other hand, the story has a marginally stronger thrust. The puzzles continue to mostly consist of retrieving objects. It is not a very hard game, and despite what Robert Williams says, it’s not much longer than the first one.
While aiming to be unoriginal by constantly alluding to pre-existing material, King’s Quest II manages a spark of originality when its collage is seen as a whole. The juxtaposition brings new meanings to the material, adding some pleasantly absurd humor though perhaps lacking in substantial depth.
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Time Played: 5-10 hours