The Let's Play Archive

King's Quest I

by DoubleNegative

Part 4: Trolls, Goats, and Bad Puzzles

Hello everyone and welcome back to King's Quest I. Last time we pushed a cannibal witch into her boiling pot and watched her die in shrieking agony. Graham is not a nice dude.

Anyway, now that she's dead, let's loot the place.

: Graham opens the cabinet and peers inside. All he finds is some ripe cheese.
: Yoink!

: In the witch's bedroom, all Graham finds is a note.
: Taking that too!
: Aren't you the least bit worried about invading someone's privacy?
: Oh please. She's dead. She doesn't care about privacy any more.
: Whatever. Graham takes the note from the table.

New items means new item descriptions!

: This is an extremely fragrant piece of Swiss cheese.
: The cheese has enough holes already without you poking more into it!

: There is a message written on the note: 'Sometimes it is wise to think backwards.'

Now let's jump a few minutes back in time, back to before the witch died. We got lucky in the last update in that she wasn't home on our first attempt at entering. Let's see what happens if she is home...

: As Graham knocks on the chocolate door, a squeaky voice from inside the house answers...
: Who is there? I love visitors, especially young, tender ones! Come in, come in!

From there, if you're dumb enough to enter, things play out much the same as they did when the witch stole Graham from the forest. You get the same "Graham cracker" game over pun and everything. Hardly exciting, but chances are pretty good she'll be home when you go to boil her alive. So it pays to know what happens if she is.

Also, while we're here let's take a look at the house.

: This is the most marvelous house Graham has ever seen! It seems like it's made out of a huge gingerbread cupcake, with frosting for a roof. The chimney is made of gummy bricks, the door is made of chocolate, the fence is made of candy canes, and sourball stones and gumdrops are scattered around the yard. The path to the front door is lined with little gingerbread boys and girls.

Poor kids. But that description made me hungry.

: Yum! The house tastes even better than it looks!

This is something you can only do if the witch is not home. Otherwise she calls you on it and invites you inside.

Let's move on. This little bridge is on screen C-3. If we'd gone right instead of left at the start of the adventure, and then gone down, this would be the screen we'd have arrived on.

: As Graham starts to cross the bridge, a huge, hulking troll stomps into view and blocks his way. It's the ugliest, meanest, nastiest troll that Graham has ever seen, and he doesn't look like he's about to let anybody cross his bridge.

Let's try reasoning with him.

: I say, would you mind awfully... getting out of the way?
: You think yer gonna cross my bridge do you? Not for FREE, you ain't.
: A toll? What toll?
: Yer quite the little chatterbox, aintcha? Well, lemme warn ya, these bridges have been in my family for years and years.
: I'm not paying any toll! This bridge is on the King's land. Now let me pass.
: Nobody, especially not a puny little knight like yerself, has ever passed across one of our bridges without payin' our Troll Toll.
: This is the King's bridge. That's his castle right over there.
: Quit gabbin'. Are you plannin' on paying my toll, or does I hafta get tough?

Now, we've picked up a lot of treasure in our journey. We could easily pay his toll. But it's the principle of the matter. You see, you have to pay him for each crossing and fuck that noise. At minimum we need to cross twice. Plus, the single most infamous puzzle in the entire damn game, if not the series, is on the other side.

So we're not paying. Maybe we can shove our way past him. We are a knight of King Edward, after all.

: Graham pushes the troll as hard as he can. Unfortunately, the troll doesn't budge an inch.

: Screw it. I don't have to take this kind of shabby treatment.
: You'll be back. They always are.

: Hey wait a second. I have a weapon! Why am I running away?

: Back already? Are ya ready to pay my toll?

: The troll is much bigger than Graham, stronger, and much, MUCH meaner. Better not even try it.

: Uh, nevermind. Sorry to have bothered you.

: You're holding a dagger, you idiot. Did you really think that would work?
: Uhh... maybe?

: How did that old nursery rhyme go? There was a troll, a bridge and...

: A goat!

So here's another one of those "fuck you" puzzles. The goat randomly wanders around in its pen, going back and forth between D-1 and E-1. If you're playing with dead ends enabled, it is absolutely critical that you Close The Goddamned Gate.

Like so. You see, if the goat leaves the screen that Graham is on, and the pen is open, then he's gone, and you're locked out of maximum points. You not only don't get the points you would have gotten for doing the puzzle this way, you also lose points for paying the Troll Toll.

: I wonder how much a goat even weighs... I bet I could carry it around.
: You wouldn't get very far carrying a goat. Perhaps you can get him to follow you if you'd like to take him somewhere.
: Hint. HINT.
: Oh, I get it. Hey, Mr. Goat would you...

: Goats can't talk, Graham...

Goats like vegetables, right? Well just use the carrot on him!

: Graham shows the goat the carrot. The goat starts following after him.

So here's another difference from the SCI version to the VGA version. In the SCI version, because you had a text parser, you had a little more fine control over exactly what Graham did. So you had to actually type "show carrot to goat" to get it to follow you. If you gave the goat the carrot, it would take it and you'd have to go get another one to try again.

The game is nice enough to give you a warning. The goat is following you, but kind of lazily. So just wait for it to be vaguely nearby before you leave the screen and it'll follow. If you get too far ahead, the goat pulls a Houdini and is gone from the game.

You really have to be trying to get that to happen, though. Here the goat is heading back into the pen, and Graham is leaving the screen.

Despite that, it still counted as close enough. You'd have to purposely get the goat stuck on terrain clear across the screen before you lose it.

Anyway, while leading the goat around, a random event happens. This is on C-1, just one screen west of the goat pen.

Now, there have been some bad portraits in this game. The witch was one, and the troll was another. But this lady here takes the cake. She's easily the most DeviantArt of all of the portraits.

Here's all three next to each other. I want you all to take in the awfulness.

What's sad is the art got a million times better in KQ2 VGA, but the game itself is awful. So, no, I'm not going to be doing King's Quest 2 VGA edition. Anyway, this... abomination... has something she wants to say.

: Gentle Sir Graham, I am your fairy godmother.
: Your quest is indeed noble. What little aid I can offer you is this protective magic spell, effective for but a short while.
: I shall be watching over you, Sir Graham.

: The fairy turns into a swirling ball of light and flies off just as quickly as she came.
: *to the goat* Can you believe the crap I have to put up with?
: The goat nudges Graham's hand and bleats, while trying to sneakily take a bite of the carrot.

The protective spell the Fairy Godmother gives us lasts 60 seconds and will prevent Graham from dying due to random encounters and "bosses." He can still die from his own stupidity or clumsiness.

For what it's worth, that 60 seconds only ticks down if you're not in a conversation or a menu. So for us it'll last for the next 7 and a half minutes real-time. We'll see next update just where "60 seconds" of protection took us.

: Hey ugly McButtFace, I'm back!
: The troll stomps into view again and sighs.
: Are ya gonna pay up this time, puny?

: It is a well known fact that goats hate trolls intensely. Graham moves aside and watches the troll and goat meet, smirking the whole time.

: The goat lowers his head and runs straight for the troll, butting him right off the bridge and into the river below.

: Graham gives the goat the carrot, and the goat walks off happily, chewing on its well-deserved reward.

Okay that doesn't actually happen. In reality the goat gets tempted by the carrot and then wanders off after defeating the troll.

: This looks like an ordinary carrot.
: The carrot feels hard. It would be very crisp to eat.

Down on screen C-4, we come across yet another fairy tale. Let's just start from the left and go to the right...

: The gnome's house is carved right into the side of the tree.
: Graham sees a wizened old gnome sitting in front of his house, whittling.
: This is the gnome's spinning wheel.
: There is a small pile of straw here.
: This is a pile of gold.

Welcome, folks, to the puzzle. If you know only one thing about King's Quest I, there's almost a 100% chance it will be this fucking puzzle. So without further ado...

: Welcome, Sir Graham. I have been expecting you. I have something that will be of great use to you. But first, Sir Graham, you must answer this riddle.
: I'll give you three guesses. What is my name?

Let's get the obvious out of the way...

: Rumplestiltskin?
: Ooooh, very close, very close! But not quite right!

So, remember that note from the witch's house? "Sometimes it is wise to think backwards." That's your only hint for this puzzle. So...

: Nikstlitselpmur? Wait, no, that can't be right.
: Are you suuuure?
: Yeah, give me a minute.
: The gnome rolls his eyes and shakes his head, sighing.

: Graham borrows a quill from the gnome and scribbles some letters on the back of the hint note.

: That's stupid. You already had the corr--

: That's right! Outstanding! I didn't think you were THAT clever.
: How... how... HOW?
: I'll explain in a minute.

Before I continue, allow me to quote Ben Croshaw.

"Zero Punctuation, the Walking Dead posted:

First, think of a problem that the player has to get around... like, say, helping a cat down from a tree. Then, think of how a normal, sensible person would solve the issue with the objects that would be close at hand. Then seal your head inside of a half-full vat of boiling chlorine for about twenty minutes, and write down another way you'd solve the problem that at that moment makes perfect sense to your probably fatally poisoned mind. Repeat this process until you have discovered the most circuitous possible solution.

In the original EGA version of the game, the one that came out in 1984, this was the solution to the puzzle. You see, to a normal human brain the hint "Sometimes it's wise to think backwards." means to spell Rumplestiltskin backwards, thus "Nikstlitselpmur". Roberta Williams took "thinking backwards" to mean something entirely different.

She, instead, intended for you to sit down and create an atbash cipher, where you replace all the letters with their reverse. So A=Z, B=Y, C=X, and so on. Spelling Rumplestiltskin through that cipher would get you to the eventual letter jumble "Ifnkovhgroghprm".

Even in 1984, people rightly called bullshit on that. So in the 1990 SCI remake, the game no longer accepted Ifnkovhgroghprm as a valid answer, and only took Nikstlitselpmur or Nikstlitslepmur. Sierra was nice enough, you see, to allow for the E and L to be transposed.

So that's my long-winded explanation for this single dumbest fucking puzzle in this game. For what it's worth, the VGA version accepts either response as the correct one.

In any of the three versions, if you fail this puzzle, you're not locked out of beating the game. You instead have to do things the hard way. I don't have failure dialogue on hand for that, as I've never actually failed this puzzle. Thanks to cultural osmosis, I've known the answer for longer than I've been playing this game.

Now back to the LP update already in progress...

: As a reward for your sharp intellect, here are some beans. They're no ordinary beans, but it's up to you to find out why. Somebody as smart as yourself should have problem at all.
: The gnome hands Graham some beans and goes into his house. Graham can hear the sound of locks clicking.

: Well?
: Well what?
: Care to explain how you came up with that incomprehensible gibberish?
: You've never heard of an atbash cipher?
: No.
: It's the world's easiest cipher to break. It was used in biblical times, for crying out loud.
: And what made your mind jump to an atbash cipher first, instead of spelling Rumplestiltskin backwards?
: Because Nikstlitselpmur was too easy of an answer. So it had to be an atbash cipher. It's the same reason I threw that bucket of water at the dragon instead of killing it. Gotta take the hard road for the best outcome.
: That's... that's the dumbest thing you've ever said.

Two screens south of the gnome, on C-6 we find a patch of clover surrounded by fruit trees.

: An unusual clover glistens in the middle of the field. Graham carefully picks it and discovers that it's a four-leaf clover!

Anyway, this is one of two locations we can do this puzzle at. The other is a flowery meadow at E-4, which is two screens to the east from the gnome. The flowery meadow has a lot of wildflowers growing there, and this little clover patch is full of greenery.

: The clover patch is thick with small three-leaf clovers, and lovely fruit trees have blossomed early this year.

Those are pretty much your only hints for the puzzle. You just have to find fertile soil and plant the beans there. You all know what's coming...

: Graham is holding a handful of small beans.
: When Graham touches the magical beans, his hands take on a tingling sensation.

: Graham plants the magical beans in the fertile soil. Suddenly, something incredible begins to happen!

I tried to create a gif, but it was 14 MB because the screen was shaking. Anyway, that's enough of this for now.

NEXT TIME: We climb the beanstalk.

List of Points:

+2 - Opening the Cabinet
+2 - Taking the Cheese
+1 - Taking the Note
+2 - Reading the Note
+2 - Eating the witch out of house and home
+5 - The taming of the goat
+4 - Goats hate trolls
+9 - Ifnkovhgroghprm
+2 - Four-leaf clover
+2 - Graham and the beanstalk

Total: 102/158

Register of Deaths

None this time, despite trying to provoke the troll.