If you missed last week's NYRSF reading, you can still check out "Mister Hadj's Sunset Ride," the story that Saladin Ahmed performed. It's a short, engaging "weird western" involving a Muslim hero and a zombie outlaw, and it features just a terrifically well-done voice. It's currently up on Beneath Ceaseless Skies in both text and audio format.
So someone just asked me why I had griped about the stupid puzzles in King's Quest II, King's Quest IV, and King's Quest V, but not in King's Quest III. The answer basically is that there aren't any rage-inducingly stupid puzzles in King's Quest III, at least that I can think of. King's Quest III is actually one of my favorite games of all time. You play as a teenage boy enslaved to an evil wizard. You have to sneak around his house and secretly learn magic, gathering spell ingredients and covering your tracks, and eventually defeat the wizard. But then it turns out that there's a whole other part of the game that happens after that that ties in really nicely with the previous games. Wonderful stuff.
Since I had a request though, I'll mention my least favorite puzzles in the game. These aren't horrible, like some of the others, but they're pretty "Meh."
Early in the game you encounter this cave with a giant spiderweb woven over it:
If you approach the cave, you get stuck in the web, and then a giant spider descends and devours you. You'll probably waste a lot of time trying to think up clever ways to defeat a giant spider. Then at one point you mix up a spell called "Transforming into an eagle or a fly," and if you transform into an eagle, you'll snatch up the spider in your beak, carry him out to sea, and dump him in the ocean. That's okay, I guess, but it's just sort of a random, trial-and-error thing, unless there's some fairy tale tradition I don't know about involving eagles owning giant spiders.
Incidentally, after the spider is defeated, you enter the cave, where you find a robed oracle who tells your future. As a kid I always used to wonder about this guy. I mean, he's in this featureless one-room cave, and the only entrance has been blocked up until now by a spiderweb. How does he get groceries? How does he go to the bathroom? Anyone else ever wonder about that?
Then later in the game you have to cross a snowy mountain range inhabited by the abominable snowman:
So you have to use that same spell and transform into a fly, and then fly past the abominable snowman, who's not coordinated enough to swat you. So again ... meh. It could work, I guess, but it's not particularly clever or anything. It actually never occurred to me before that both those lame puzzles involve the same spell. Maybe they should've just ditched that spell and come up with some better way to defeat those two monsters.
The abominable snowman puzzle is also notable in that the exact same situation recurs in King's Quest V, with a much, much stupider solution. So as far as I'm concerned they're zero for two when it comes to yeti puzzles. Anyone out there have a clever solution for how to defeat a yeti?
If you've never played King's Quest III, you really should. There's a fan-made remake of it by Infamous Adventures, which features updated graphics, a point-and-click interface, and voice acting. I enjoyed the remake, though I did get stuck in it. As I recall I used a spoon to scoop up some mud, which I needed for a spell, but then I also needed that same spoon to measure out a spoonful of some ingredient for a different spell, and I couldn't do it because the spoon was already full of mud. Maybe there's some way to clean the spoon or something, but I just gave up at that point, so watch out for that one.