King's Quest II: Romancing the Throne (Sierra On-Line) - 1985

This review is part of the “Let’s Adventure!” series. See all reviewed games sorted by rating here.

King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne is the second installment in the King’s Quest series of graphic adventure games by Sierra On-Line. It was originally released in 1985 for PC DOS/PCjr, and later made available for the Apple II/IIGS, Atari ST, and Amiga. It uses the same AGI game engine as King’s Quest I: Quest for the Crown and features King Graham as the player character. The title is a spoof of the 1984 film Romancing the Stone.

Since the events of the first game you’ve taken over as king of Daventry, but are now getting lonely and want to go out and meet some women. Since Tinder doesn’t exist yet you rely on your magic mirror to find you a suitable match - which it does. Having seen a princess locked up in a tower somewhere you set off on an adventure to save said princess, bring her back with you and make her your queen.

This followup entry to King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown uses the same AGI game engine. Being parser-based you have to type your commands in and they will be interpreted based on how well you’ve conveyed your intent. The types of interactions you can have are pretty limited, but you can forgive game engines from the mid-80s for their lack of sophistication.

Most interactions will follow the VERB SUBJECT format, such as TALK MAN or GET TRIDENT.

Make sure you LOOK at everything, and if it is potentially something you can pick up, GET it. These early Sierra games are essentially just a series of item combination puzzles, and you can find yourself in unwinnable situations if you forgot to get something early on. Personally I find this to be part of the appeal of these games, as it really forces you to be meticulous with how you approach each screen.

For some reason this world is populated with fairy tale characters such as Little Red Riding hood, a fairy godmother … and Dracula. You’re not really given any background as to why these characters exist in this universe so you sort of just have to accept it.

What this game introduces that I don’t believe was in the previous game is time-delayed events on certain screens. For example, you’ll need to give Red Riding Hood a basket of food, but she only appears on certain screens - and only after waiting on that screen for a random amount of time. These types of puzzles are needlessly frustrating as you have no indication that (a) you’re on the right screen, (b) you’ve waited long enough and should exit/re-enter/try-again or (c) the event will be triggered at all.

Again, I’ll forgive these puzzle designs due to how old the game is … but it is extremely frustrating when you have to move between screens and just stand there waiting - hoping to trigger some event.

Though the graphics really aren’t all that much better than the first game, for 1985 this was pretty impressive. The AGI engine is essentially a vector graphics engine as each screen is “drawn” based on the coordinate and fill instructions provided by the artists. Priority maps on each screen also create a sense of depth as you’re able to walk in front of or behind scenery, or be blocked from progressing if you collide with something you shouldn’t be able to walk through.

Your goal is to find 3 golden keys that can be used to unlock the 3 nested doors to the realm where Valanice is imprisoned. Reading the inscription on the doors will give you a clue as to where the key is, which you then need to find and ue to unlock the door. The clues are pretty vague, but since the game world is small as long as you pick everything up, talk to everyone and try every combination of GIVE <X> TO <Y> on each screen you should be able to sort most puzzles out.

Being a Sierra game, expect to die a lot. Though there aren’t too many stairs you can fall from in this game, there are still plenty of missteps that will kill you. If you fall into water, don’t forget to type SWIM so you don’t drown. This game gives you a shortcut for that action (I think you press the =), so this is an improvement over the original at least.

Assuming you try every combination of items, character interactions and wait on every screen for any potential timed events to trigger you’ll still be able to breeze through this game in a couple hours. If you use a walkthrough, you can finish in about 45 minutes.

Once you open all the magic doors and step through, you’ll make your way to the ivory tower and rescue the princess. To finish the game you need to KISS her (make sure you’re standing close enough), then say HOME to magically return to Daventry. There must have been clues alluding to these steps somewhere during the game that I missed, but I found myself stuck here for a bit until I resorted to a walkthrough. The whole “say the magic word” thing wasn’t clear at all …

The End

Overall, this game’s fine. It’s a sequel using the same game engine that tells the continuation of King Graham’s story. There’s not a lot of improvement over the original, there’s no real background music or sound effects other than certain screens. Other than your motivation for going from point A to B being “find the girl” there’s not much story or character development.

AGD Interactive released a remake of this game with updated graphics, sound and music in 2002. Though I haven’t played it myself I’ve heard nothing but good things about it (and their other games), so if you’re looking to play this game maybe skip the original and go straight to the remake.

Game Information

GameKing’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne
DeveloperSierra On-Line
PublisherSierra On-Line
Release DateMay 1985
SystemsDOS, Macintosh, Apple II, Apple IIGS,
Amiga, Atari ST, PCjr
Game EngineAGI

My Playthrough

How Long To Beat?3 hours
Version PlayedDOS via ScummVM


See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.

Atmosphere (20)12
Story (25)8
Experience (15)7
Impact (10)2
This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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