Sierra On-Line, the gaming company responsible for such legends as King’s Quest and Space Quest, the gaming company that I’m always looking for a reason to talk about, had a period of about two decades where it seemed they couldn’t make a wrong move. Everything they did was bigger, brighter, and smarter than what they’d done before. Through that lens, the fact that this 1990 newsletter is so relatively unremarkable is what makes it so noteworthy.
It’s not awful, there’s some flashes of inspired design and occasional injections of character, but given what they were capable of in the print realm just two years before and what they were doing elsewhere in the marketplace, like this marketing video featuring their new titles…
… this effort just comes off like a Sears catalog in layout and tone.
Most frustrating, as a fan, is that 1990 is arguably the most exciting time in the company’s history. It’s definitely near the epicenter. King’s Quest V and Space Quest IV were landmark titles for both franchises, and the future seemed brighter than ever. The way they’re described here reads like someone being told to write about how exciting something is rather than communicating that excitement themselves. And don’t get me started on this god-awful King’s Quest V box art.
I can only guess that this effort is a gap, a crack, something that had to be rushed to deadline while some other project demanded attention. THey couldn’t not do it, but they also couldn’t do it well. That’s me being a charitable fanboy. If you’re one too, you might still enjoy this read.
To end on a positive note, this ad for sound cards really slaps. 1990!
It’s nice to see other Sierra aficionados writing about something they liked years and decades after its release. I had the multimedia (“talkie”) CD version of KGV…the box art of which is…miles…better than that dreck, which looks like it fell out of one of those ‘Highlights’ kids’ magazine you’d see in the waiting rooms of dentists in late 80’s and 90’s.
I agree – that’s absolutely the superior version of KQV’s box, and does justice to how great the game is. This might have been the first CD-ROM game I experienced, but it would have been at a friend’s house – I had the floppies, myself.