Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Recalling the dumbest, most unfair King’s Quest deaths

Keyboard GeniusesKeyboard Geniuses is our occasional glance at a few intriguing, witty, or otherwise notable posts from the community’s discussion threads. Comments have been excerpted and edited here for grammar, length, and/or clarity.

Let’s Playlist

Earlier this week, we ran an Inventory full of boss music that we thought was better than the battles they accompany and made a YouTube playlist out of the tracks. But our list was just a starting point. Really, the whole idea here was to get you all involved and suggesting tracks to add to the list. And we did just that. Here are the songs we added to our “bark beats bite” playlist and the commenters who suggested them:

Once again, here’s a link to the full YouTube playlist for your listening pleasure.


The one thing we didn’t mention in the article is that we originally thought of these community-driven music playlist Inventories as a recurring feature. (We even came up a cute name: “Let’s Playlist!”) They might be popping up on occasion in the future, with a different theme each time, naturally. So let us know, Gameologerinos. Would you like to see more of these?

A World Of Pure Imagination

This week, Samantha Nelson brought us into the world of RenQuest, an event that turns your typical renaissance faire into one big role-playing game. Girard applauded the people of RenQuest and what the game represented:

LARPing is one of those things that, in reading about it, I oscillate between feeling vicarious fun and extreme vicarious embarrassment. But good on these folks for creating a space where people (adult people!) can engage in creative, imaginative play, and good on the people who throw themselves into it.

The ability to meaningfully engage in imaginative role-play is one of those skills that’s seemingly inherent in early childhood but which seems to melt away as people grow older. Being an art teacher, I can’t help but liken it to the similar phenomenon where in preschool pretty much everyone is an artist and constantly draws with facility and frequency, but as people age, they become more self-conscious and develop more rigid definitions about what they consider to be art. That “inherent” ability also melts away.

Creating a space where adults—whose minds tend to need a bit more structure to find an endeavor meaningful than pre-K kids do—can slide back into that imaginative role-playing mode is pretty cool! And considering imaginative role-play’s salutary effects on things like creativity and empathy, it’s probably a good thing that more and bigger people are finding ways to engage in it.


TreeRol agreed and summed up the problem quite eloquently:

I don’t think it’s a skill that melts away over time so much as gets one placed in the “do not touch” box. As we age, we don’t lose the ability for imaginative role-play. We just lose practice, because we’ve decided it’s not something adults do, and so as we become adults, it’s something we should avoid. And that sucks.


Elsewhere, Unexpected Dave shared a fun childhood LARP-ish experience:

The only LARP-like thing I’ve done was as a teenager. Every year, all the Scout troops in Nova Scotia would compete in an event called “Operation Alert.” The Scouts would break into teams of 3 or 4, while the leaders of each troop (along with parents and older kids) would make various activity stations. The stations could consist of games, puzzles, obstacle courses, etc., but they all had to incorporate a theme (such as Space or Canadian Heroes/Heroines). That meant that most stations had a story component, with the adult volunteers often dressing in costume and playing characters. In retrospect, it amazes me how some very serious adults were willing to risk looking silly for the sake of challenging and entertaining kids.

[Dave later added some more details]

Alert was a competitive event. Points are awarded at each station on various criteria including poise, teamwork, creativity, and skill. With 4 or 5 teams per station, waiting was inevitable. It’s very difficult to actually complete every station in the time allotted, and the standings are based on total points, so a big part of the strategy is planning your route. Every team is assigned a starting station, but is free to go wherever they wish afterward. Certain troops acquire a reputation for having especially fun stations (one troop incorporated a climbing wall and zip-line every year) and these would always have longer lines.




Activision announced that the studio is reviving the legendary King’s Quest series of adventure games. As it always does, the mere mention of King’s Quest flooded readers with mixed feelings, both nostalgia and twinges of past soul-crushing frustration. The stories about the latter are more entertaining, so greenspanDan asked everyone to list their favorite stupid, unfair deaths from the series:

Mine is about three screens into the first King’s Quest, the original CGA version. It happens when you type “push rock” while standing on the south side of the rock instead of the north side of the rock in the middle of a flat field. The rock animation only goes one way (south) so if you happen to be standing there, King Graham pushes (??) the rock onto himself, crushing himself to death.


Jeff Parkes shared another:

There were a lot of cheap deaths in the first three games, but some of the worst were in King’s Quest II. You had to navigate this stupid poisonous bramble maze to get to Dracula’s castle. It required pixel-perfect precision and you couldn’t even see where the edges of the path were (unlike the infamous narrow pathways of King’s Quest III, which at least had easy-to-see edges). The “correct” solution to this puzzle was to throw a bridle onto a snake earlier in the game. The bridle would then transform into a pegasus and give you a magical sugar cube to inoculate you from poison bramble bushes.

Yes. Really.

You could also just kill this same snake to get past it (with a sword you find that has a snake pictured on the hilt, no less), so good luck figuring all that out.


Those were the days. Pgoodso speculated as to why the younger folks who were playing those games at the time might have put up with all that horse crap:

There’s something about being a kid and being willing to immediately accept the authority of games that makes these sorts of things go down easier when you’re young. Needing to keep that pie for the yeti? Needing to die at least once to understand the possible threat that awaited you? Those were just the rules of the game. It takes growing up to really grasp the idea of an unfair game.

This is also why I thought the original NES Ninja Turtles game was great, until I realized what a bug-laden piece of shit it was. Kids really do think differently than adults.


As I mentioned in the article, this won’t be the first time someone tried to revive King’s Quest, although it’ll probably be the first one to succeed. NakedSnake thinks the difficulty with bringing the games back has to do with how shallow the originals were:

I have a pretty good idea why three major studios have now tried and failed to bring King’s Quest into modern times. In terms of story or characters, there’s not much there. What can we say about King Graham? What was he like? What were his daughter and wife like? With the exception of his son—who grew up as the abused slave of an evil wizard—none of the characters really have interesting characteristics or backstories. They just assist random strangers they meet, receive items from them, and then concoct seemingly nonsensical combinations of those items. Even the super-square Officer Jim Walls from the original Police Quest games has more personality. And he turned down an offer for sex in exchange for tearing up a speeding ticket.


To which kkjjxl had this to add:

I can tell you that at least in MY King’s Quest, King Graham stabbed a goat.

That does it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all again next week.


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