The Let's Play Archive

King's Quest V

by DoubleNegative

Part 16: Crispin ex Machina

King's Quest V - Mordack's Laboratory

This whole update is available in video form. Click here to watch it if you like.

Hello everyone and welcome back to King's Quest V. The final update is upon us. God it feels so good to be able to type that sentence.

Several updates ago I had some words to say about how in a game full of bad puzzles, two stood shoulder to shoulder as joint title holders of "worst in the game." The first was the yeti puzzle. We've had yet to see the second one, but that changes today.


: Hot coals burn in an open-pit fireplace built against a side wall.

I'm not crazy, right? That's a forge, right? There's even metalworking tools on the wall.


: Graham has found himself in a large room filled with many unusual contraptions and magical implements. His heart feels like bursting when he notices his family imprisoned within a large glass bottle sitting upon a corner table.


: Looking at his frantically waving family inside their glass prison makes Graham's heart break as he realizes his inability to save them from their terrible predicament.

We can't do anything down here, but there looks to be some stuff upstairs. So let's take a gander...


By "some stuff" I mean the contraption at the far end of the upstairs balcony.

Several people got mad when they saw this screenshot.


: Graham has no idea what Mordack does with this strange contraption, but it couldn't be good! Inside the lower portion a foul-smelling liquid bubbles while two dangling spiked gizmos hang on a massive yoke above a couple of flat iron platters.


: The bizarre machine looks very intimidating and confusing which makes Graham reluctant to touch it; conversely, it also intrigues him.

There's absolutely no indication what this machine does, or what you should even do with it. Easy money says you should put one item on each platter, but what items?

So for the last time in the LP, here's our inventory. There's only two similar items in our inventory, the wands, so they're probably meant to go on the two platters.

left platter

right platter

So that's all well and good, but now what? There's no indication in the game of what to do next. I know more than one person reading this is going to defend the puzzle by saying "but you can just brute force the solution" but that's bullshit.

Puzzles like this, or the yeti, or the witch and the bottle, or even the bridle on a snake are bad because there is no internal logic to them. For other puzzles in the game you can kind of see what demented logic the writers were using. There's a thread of consistency with the rules in the game as we understand them, and how the puzzles work.

A solution may not be immediately intuitive, but when you get the answer you can see what the writers were thinking to a degree. Puzzles like this violate that relationship because at that point all consistency is gone for the sake of selling 5 minutes of time on Sierra's 1-900 hint line.

I hated the game so much, but the Witness was the only "adventure" game that punished brute forcing puzzles. Each set of puzzles introduced a concept, and expanded on that concept as you progressed. It was fully possible to brute force solutions, but then you'd get stuck six down the line when it came time for the final exam.

Brute forcing a puzzle is never a solution. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. When the intended solution, however, is just to brute force the answer, then we've got a major problem on our hands. We're in such a state here.

I've looked at the puzzle and thought about it, trying to work out just what Roberta Williams was thinking. If I'm as generous as possible with the term, then the only "hint" that I can come up with was posted above when we looked at the machine. Here's the relevant bit of information, with the "hint" bolded.

: Graham has no idea what Mordack does with this strange contraption, but it couldn't be good! Inside the lower portion a foul-smelling liquid bubbles while two dangling spiked gizmos hang on a massive yoke above a couple of flat iron platters.

With "foul-smelling" being the operative phrase for the "hint", we can narrow down our options to a single one.


How you're supposed to guess that particular phrase is the hint, I'll never fucking know. Furthermore, I don't know why cheese powers the machine. Nothing about this makes sense. You know what? I'm just tired of this game. I'm tired of trying to dissect the logic involved. Let's move on. The end is right around the corner.

Here we can see the machine activating its blinkenlights features.

Well, Crispin's wand looks livelier now.

crispin's wand

: Crispin's wand glows brightly with renewed power.

King's Quest V - Battle with Mordack

: What's going on here?

: I'll take care of you... you SWINE!

This is the termination point for all remaining DMWs. If you forgot anything then this is where you die.

: Graham... I've heard from Crispin!

Let's see that again.

I could watch that all day and never get tired of it.

: What the...? What have you done to my wand?! You think you can outwit me, little man?! Hah! Let me show YOU a thing or two!

What the hell is that?

All deaths from here on are identical.

: That wasn't a very smart move, Graham.

It's those four drawings we saw earlier, though in a different order. Out of everything we can turn into, the tiger looks the most useful here. A rabbit is too small to get away from this thing, and the two abstract drawings don't make any sense. So...

tiger animorph

: Why you little...
: What's the matter, afraid to face me?

It was here that I lost my patience for showing the various permutations of how Mordack can kill you. So that's the last death for the run.

rabbit animorph

: You think you're so smart, don't you? Well, I've got you now!
: I can do this all day long.

: Sssssssssssay good-bye, sssssssssswine!
: Oh puh-lease. Is swine the only insult you know? I've met wandering enchanters more threatening than you are.
: I'll get you for that!

abstract animorph in the upper left corner

Apparently that undefinable blob is supposed to be a mongoose. Good to know.

: Ssssssssso! If thisssss issssss the way you want to play...

the bottom left icon

This is the ending. Why they let you skip the ending, I'll never know.

: NOW why won't you work?!

: Oh... Princess Cassima! Well, I did it. Mordack is dead.
: Dead? Are you sure? Maybe he's only trying to trick you!
: He's dead, all right. He turned himself into a fire and I put him out with rainwater. He'll never bother anyone else EVER again! But now I have a bigger problem; I don't know what to do about my family or my castle. I don't know how to turn them back to normal!
: After all you've been through, there MUST be a way!

: Crispin!
: I have the solution to ALL your problems, Graham!

: While you and Cedric were gone, I did some asking around, and found out that YOUR son, Alexander, had the dubious distinction, if you may, of turning Mordack's brother, Mannanan, into a cat some time back.

: Graham nods.

: Right. Oh, that reminds me. Princess Cassima, would you do me a favor and get that sack of peas just down the stairs?
: The bag of peas? Sure, but why?
: It has Manannan inside. Be careful he doesn't claw you.

: Cassima runs off and returns a moment later with the sack of peas. She carefully hands it to Graham.

: Obviously, this deed angered Mordack who could do nothing about it since this particular spell could only be undone by the actual perpetrator... your son.
: It doesn't take a great genius to figure out that Mordack took your family and castle in revenge and to try to `persuade' Alexander to restore Mannanan back to his old self.
: I DID discover, as now I see, that your castle and family were miniaturized and imprisoned inside a glass bottle. I did some research and found the spell for turning everything back to normal. Now watch!

: Hocus, pocus, ALIOCUS!

: Valanice! My children! My joy knows no limits!
: Oh, Father! I'm so glad you're here!

: Oh... Princess Cassima! How could I forget you! Come over here.

: Let me introduce you to my family. This is my wife, Queen Valanice.
: Hello.
: My daughter, Princess Rosella.
: Hi.
: And my son, Prince Alexander... who started this whole mess! All of you, this is Princess Cassima from the Land of the Green Isles. Without her, none of us would be standing here now. She bravely saved my life!
: My Lady. I am deeply in your debt and I will make it up to you. With your permission, I'd like to travel to the Land of the Green Isles to see you.

Keep it in your pants, Alex.

: All right! Now that we're done with the formalities, let's get on with business, shall we?

: Higgledy, piggledly, POOH!

Crispin just saying magic sounding words to fix all the problems is bothering me. This game has graduated from bad puzzles to simply lazy storytelling. The entire ending is literally "a wizard did it" style deus ex machina.

Also incantations don't work like that in the King's Quest world. After this game they will go back to the old "rhyming quatrain" style. So I don't know why King's Quest V is the odd one out. Anyway, let's get back to the ending in progress.

: Be assured that your castle is right back where it belongs... and the right size too! But NOW, it's time that everyone return to their homes... with MY help, of course. Alakazam, alakazoo...

: Graham eyes the crumpled form of Cedric and sighs.

: Wait... wait. What about Cedric?
: Where IS Cedric?
: Over there! Mordack may have killed him! Is there ANYTHING you can do about it?
: Hmmmmm, let me think. Ah, yes! I think I know.
: Abra... abracarbara... no. Uh, abra... codora... hmmmmm. Now, what IS that confounded word? Oh, yes! Abra... cadabra!

: Alexander frowns at the sounds Crispin is making, but doesn't say anything.

: Ooooh, Crispin!
: Cedric, it sure is good to see YOU again!
: Ooooh, Likewise, I'm sure.
: All right. Enough is enough. Let's get on with it. Okay, Cassima. Let's send you home first. Wasn't that the Land of the Green Isles?
: Yes, that's right! I can't wait to see my parents again! Good-bye, Alexander. Perhaps we'll meet again.
: You can be sure of that, m'lady.

: Before you send us all home, Crispin, I just want to thank you for all your help. And, you too, Cedric. I wouldn't be standing here with my family without you two. I'm deeply, deeply grateful.
: All in a day's work, my boy. All in a day's work. Right, Cedric?
: Right, Crispin!
: Okay, back home you go! Alakazam, alakazoo, ALAKAZEE!

King's Quest V - Ending Titles

: Well, there she is...our happy home. And we're all safe and sound once more. Let's go home, shall we?
: Yes, let's.

: Have I got a long story to tell you all about my journey. Do yourselves a favor and never take on a small animal for a sidekick...

The credits for this game are a little long for a gif, so I'm not going to show them off. If you're curious, you can watch the video I linked at the start of the update.

Anyway, that's King's Quest V. I'm glad to be done with this game. But our long, national nightmare is finally over.


List of Points

+2 - Pixel Hunt 1 (Silver Coin)
+2 - Guessing you can look in the barrel
+2 - Walked into the Dark Forest
-2 - Except not really
+4 - Saved bees
+2 - Got some honey
+2 - Retrieved stick
+4 - Played fetch
+2 - Ahh! Life-giving water! Nectar of the gods! Graham can now feel strength and renewal flowing through him.
+2 - Stealing a dead man's shoes
+3 - Found the temple
+2 - Hid at the temple
+3 - Found bandit camp
+2 - The magic staff
+2 - Open SESAME
+2 - Gold coin
+3 - Brass bottle
+5 - Madame Mushka's reading
+2 - Actually entering the dark forest
+4 - Gave the witch a genie
+2 - Saw a single pixel key
+2 - Leather pouch
+2 - A town with money
+3 - Unlocked the tree
+2 - Heart taker
+4 - Honey trap
+6 - Elf kidnapper
+4 - Got boots
+2 - Bought pie
+4 - Saved rat
+4 - Returned the heart
+2 - Got the harp
+4 - Spinning wheel for a marionette
+2 - Got tambourine
+2 - Antony's golden needle
+4 - Needle for cloak
+4 - Marionette for sled
+4 - Shoes for hammer
+2 - Chewed up rope
+4 - Broke out of the impossible room
+2 - Stole from the innkeeper
+3 - Scared the snake off
+4 - Equipped cloak to not freeze to death
+5 - Climbed rope
+2 - Actual platforming
+4 - Ate the lamb and not the pie
+5 - Sledding
+3 - Fed eagle
+6 - Played the harp for Icebella
+4 - The Pie
+4 - Delicate crystal + HAMMER
+2 - Pixel Hunt v4
+2 - Helped by eagle
+2 - Found a prybar
+5 - Plugged the hole
+3 - Found the only island in the ocean
+4 - Tempted the harpies
+3 - Got Cedric
+2 - Conch shell
+7 - A shell of an easier time hearing now
+1 - Smelly fish 2
+5 - Blew up the snake eyes
+4 - Wedged grate open
+3 - Friends with Dink
+2 - Borrowed Dink's hair pin
+4 - Lockpicking
+2 - I want peas
+4 - Befriended Cassima
+2 - Dropped in a cell with no exit
+4 - Retrieved cheese
+3 - Cartoon pratfall
+3 - Tempted the cat
+2 - Captured Manannan
+3 - Stole Mordack's wand
+8 - Put both wands on platters
+5 - Say cheese
+4 - Used wand on Mordack
+4 - Tiger spell
+4 - Rabbit spell
+4 - Apparently a mongoose
+4 - Dousing the fire

Final Total


Register of Deaths

A pooooisonous snake!
Not BEEing careful
Swimming in a river
Toadally unprepared
Meeting the Innkeeper
Feeding the bears
Failing to drink water in the desert
Being a spy, apparently x3
Meeting the friendly bandits
Being a greedy asshole
Graham the genie
Permanently stuck*
Thanking the innkeeper for his hospitality
Taking a shortcut off a cliff
Tree roots aren't sturdy
Actual platforming
Starving to death
Unstable mountain path
Dog food
Yeti Friend
Invisible hole in the boat
Here be dragons
Harpy food x2
Falling into the water around Mordack's island from a height of 5 feet.
Swimming home
The eyes have it
Very expensive, Graham
Force choke
Captured twice
Mannfred told on Graham
Faerie dragon hugs

Final Total

35 deaths, 1 unwinnable state