Quest for Glory was already an old series when I became a serious gamer. The fifth and final game was released the same year I finally got a good home computer and became a helplessly devoted gamer forever.
As primitive as Windows 95 and Windows 98 were, they had already begun to create the wall between “modern” Windows-based PC gaming and the golden era of DOS games. I played a bunch of DOS games during those first couple of years but it was always a challenge, and some games I could NEVER get to run (I’m looking at you, Riddle of Master Lu, Chronomaster and Twinsen).
However, I DID have a great time with the DOS adventures and RPGs that I DID get to run. RPGs like Lands of Loreand Anvil of Dawn and adventures like Full Throttle, Simon the Sorcerer and Death Gate made me bitterly sorry that I hadn’t leapt into serious gaming sooner.
One of the most enjoyable and unusual DOS games I forced my early computer to run was the first Quest for Glorygame, which was originally called So You Want to Be a Hero.
The game was just weird. In a good way. It used a text parser. A text parser!! Plus, it couldn’t seem to figure out what it was. Was it an adventure game? Well, yes, there was a ton of story, and characters to interact with, and environments to explore, and secrets to discover and puzzles to solve. Was it an RPG? Why, yes: You could play as a thief, wizard or warrior, and you had stats and skills that advanced as your character gained levels.
It was also, as “primitive” as it was, quite pretty and full of intriguing environments to explore. It had meaty side quests that felt worth doing. The story and script had lots of fun with the adventuring genre (the main town is called Spielberg) and referenced classic folklore as well (Slavic folklore witch Baba Yaga is the main villain).
Probably the most intriguing aspect of the game, however, was the fact that you could save your character at the end of the game and import him into the next game. And into the next, all the way through the series. What a seriously cool idea! What a sense of progression the series offered an ambitious gamer!
While other series have followed this example (Wizardry and Mass Effect to name two), it’s still a highly unusual feature. And it offers a difficult-to-resist challenge. At least to me.
I played the first game in 2001, and I loved it. I fully intended on moving on to the next game, but I somehow never got around to it. First of all, by 2001 it was getting virtually impossible to get DOS games to run without a lot of effort. So myQuest For Glory Anthology gathered dust on my shelf for more than a decade. Periodically I’d look at it wistfully and then remember 1) the shiny new game I wanted to install and 2) how irritating and clumsy and unintuitive I always found emulators like DOSBOX.
But then enter that siren of retro-gaming, Good Old Games. I’m not shilling for them, I promise, but have you checked them out? You MUST. Not only do they have a stunning library of old (and older!) games, but they are dirt cheap and they are all optimized to run beautifully in modern versions of Windows.
Currently, GOG has all five Quest For Glory games in a bundle for ten bucks. (Remember, the Quest For Glory Anthology only contained games 1-4.) And this includes both the original and VGA remakes of the first game. You can buy them at GOG, by clicking here.
So, the question I’m pondering is… do I want to go back and try to work my way through all five games? Will the ancient graphics be too much of a hindrance to my modern eye? Will all the flashy, pretty new PS3 games that are sitting on my shelf distract me from my goal?
Who knows? Maybe I’ll find out after I finish the three PC games I’m currently trying to finish.
What do you think? How much allure does retro gaming have for you?