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Ambitious, but Dated, June 8, 2011
by GDL (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
The Wizard and the Princess was Roberta and Ken Williams's second adventure, following on the heels of Mystery House's success. The game's appeal at time of release is easy to understand. This was the second graphical text-adventure ever, and the big, colorful graphics are a huge improvement over Mystery House's unappealing line drawings, helping to build a story-book atmosphere with a certain charm to it. This is also clearly a much larger and more ambitious game, one that sets the tone for the grander scope of the graphical adventures that were to build on its model. However, attempting to play it today is likely to only lead to disappointment.
The simple act of navigation is troublesome: the game begins with a highly frustrating desert maze(Spoiler - click to show) (good luck guessing which of the identical rocks in a series of nearly-identical desert areas doesn't have a deadly scorpion under it!) and is loaded from beginning to end with similarly confusing wilderness areas, with an actual brick-and-mortar maze at the end. Even in non-maze areas, it is frequently unclear what directions are valid exits, and which will go where.
The puzzles are the typical mixed bag of obvious actions and apparently unguessable ones familiar from later King's Quest games (this is officially counted as the beginning of that series). The original method for obtaining hints--other than frantic experimentation--reminds us that this is a game from a slightly different era: the manual includes the actual home address and telephone number for Ken and Roberta Williams, which you are encouraged to use if you find yourself stuck! These days, a quick play with walkthrough in hand may be the best idea for those who want to see the earliest incarnation of the King's Quest series's particular sort of whimsy without tackling the endless mazes and arbitrary puzzles head-on.