Monday, December 31, 2007

Quest for Glory 1 - EGA/VGA comparisons.

The original Quest For Glory 1 (a.k.a. Hero's Quest) was released in two formats: EGA (16 colors and other graphical and audio limitations) and VGA (256 colors and other upgrades). The EGA version was released in 1989, and the VGA in 1991.

For a remake, actually a good number of things appear to be changed in the second version. Here's a compiled comparison of different things in the EGA version:

The EGA version is limited to 16 colors, and nearly 95% of the game's screens are dithered (alternating colors each pixel, creating a criss-cross pattern). This allows the game to simulate more colors, but causes noisy, unpleasant backgrounds to look at. Besides that issue, the EGA version pulls off a great deal of backgrounds quite nicely using only 16 colors. Another thing that they should be applauded for is how they also managed to simulate night scenes using those same 16 colors.

The EGA version had midi, but it was less orchestrated.

Gameplay Alley:
In the EGA version, the most notable issue for gameplay, I think, is the increased difficulty. It seems much harder for each individual battle, and resting for the night doesn't restore any HP or MP (I think it did in the VGA version). Battles also seem to occur much more frequently, especially at night where you are guaranteed to run into a troll every other screen, which seemed like a rare occurance in the VGA version.
All of the puzzles and design are the same, except the player is using a text parser. As a general rule, the text parser is superior to point n' click (because it takes direct thinking input from the player, not mindless banter), but it's usability in many "guess the verb" situations kills that. With Point N' Click games, players no longer had to think, but they removed the "guess the verb" nonsense of the parsers. As long as the parsers were designed well and functional to the player, they were usually superior.
This is probably most apparent in dialog and shopping in the EGA version. You don't know what to ask with the keyboard, and you are unsure of the items you can buy in the shops. Without doing a little dialog-tree maze-completing, you don't know what to type in. In the VGA version, all you could do was easily presentable to you, which is superior for the common player.
The skills for the most part are raised the same way, but it seemed that magic was much easier to raise in the EGA version, and each spell had its own skill level, something removed from the VGA version, or at least hidden. Also, stealth seemed impossible to raise in the EGA version. Just using stealth mode in the VGA version would raise the skill, but the EGA version requires you to make use of it by dodging enemy encounters to raise it.

For a game released in 1989, Quest For Glory 1 actually seems like it was way ahead of it's time. It seems like the standard prototype for nearly all modern western RPGs. This game had a day/night cycle, RPG stats and skills, three character classes to choose from, real-time battles, many puzzles and side-quests, a huge land to explore with NPC schedules, and tons of treasure to uncover.

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