Lenar was a strange company. Even now, it's hard to gauge the quality of their work and the exact level of competency they had when it comes to the games that they may have made, published, or licensed. Bird Week, a game released during the mid eighties for the Famicom/NES, is regarded as a classic and is loved by many gamers; Even a few North Americans thanks to emulation and the scant few who actually imported the game from game importers. Deadly Towers, a game that many are familiar with (also for the Famicom/NES), is widely considered to be a horrible game...some even rank it as one of the worst NES games ever made. What do those two games have in common? They supposedly have ties to Lenar (and whatever other companies published and/or aided in game development). One game is considered good; The other game is considered terrible. To make things more confusing, I'm going to throw Knight Quest into the mix, because in many ways, the game falls in the middle of the spectrum.
It may surprise some, but Knight Quest happens to be an RPG published by Taito in the early nineties. In the game, you control Will, a fourteen year old boy who has always dreamed of becoming a knight to protect the ones he loves and bring honor to a kingdom that he loves dearly. He left his home to see the king of the kingdom during one of the random unnamed festival days of an unspecified year in the hopes that the King will honor him by allowing him to prove his worth to enter knighthood. Like many cookie-cutter RPGs of the time, you are given the opportunity to prove that you aren't a wimp. Your first task? To defeat the King Goblin of the North Cave. Can Will accomplish such a feat? He'll have to...if he ever wants to be a real knight. The event with the King Goblin, as well as other typical and relatively uninteresting events, will put your hero to the ultimate test.
Honestly, if you couldn't already tell, the game has such a generic and ordinary story that I make it sound more compelling than it actually is. The dialogue is pretty boring and talking to people is nearly pointless, except to activate certain story related events. You basically play as a knight and do good deeds for the King. The story generally stinks and so do the visuals...at least at first glance. On the surface, the game looks like it has about the same graphics as many other Game Boy and NES RPGs...small sprites...simple design. However, the visuals of the game are not what they appear on the surface. When you engage in combat, you fight with larger sprites and some of the enemies are actually fairly detailed. The animation behind a couple of attacks is surprisingly fluid too and what little special effects the game has, they do the job. The battle visuals help make the game look more appealing, but other than that, the visuals are very typical of early Game Boy RPGs. If you don't like the simple graphic design of old RPGs, Knight Quest won't do too much to change your mind.
The music is very forgettable and unremarkable. While the tunes could have been pretty decent, they are painfully repetitive in most cases. In an effort to remedy this, Knight Quest had different battle themes depending on the adversary you encountered. However, since all of them are very repetitive, all it does is add to the mediocrity of the limited assortment of music. I guess the idea behind it is that many battles can be beaten in seconds, but the field music when you travel around isn't much better. As for the sound effects, they sound like stuff...bleeps sound like bleeps, bloops sound like bloops, things sound like things. So...what kind of statements are those? All I mean is that they are typical of many old Game Boy bloops and bleeps of the era...it just gets boring if I say that the sound effects are average all the time.
The gameplay is very simple, but for the Game Boy back in the early nineties, also somewhat interesting. You must travel across a small world battling monsters, buying items, sleeping at inns, and growing stronger in your quest to bring peace to the kingdom. Enemies can actually be seen on the field (just like Chrono Trigger, Romancing SaGa, and other games) and you can walk around them in many cases to avoid confrontation. When you do fight, You can use healing items, magic items, run, or attack the enemy. However, attacking is interesting because you have four different ways to attack the enemy. Will can attack with Swallow, Falcon, Seagull, and Eagle. As you can see, each attack is named after some kind of bird. Different enemies are weak against different attacks. For example, the monster Terror Fly is weak against Eagle. Using attacks that are the most effective will make a world of difference on your quest. Of course, certain attacks will do next to no damage on other enemies. Eagle may take good damage to one demon, but deal petty damage to another.
You can gain experience points and gold by defeating enemies and after a while, you will level up and boost your attack and defense parameters as well as your health points. In the Japanese version of the game, your attack and armor level (AP) was displayed and went up when you leveled up, but the U.S. version got rid of the AP indicator to show you how much experience points were needed to advance to the next level. You still get stronger with each level, it's just that the AP indicator isn't shown. One other thing worth noting is that certain items and NPC (Non Playable Character) names were different in the Japanese game. Instead of calling your weapons sword level 1 and such, the Japanese game named weapons and armor. You had Iron Sword, Knight Armor, etcetera, so on and so forth. The game has three healing items, about seven or so spells (all which are offensive and deal damage) and a couple of story related items that help you advance to other areas in the game.
The problem with Knight Quest is that the game is nearly pointless. Magic isn't all too helpful, especially once you gain a few levels and the game is very short. However, the game manages to "artificially" extend the length of the game by making enemies grow in strength very quickly. Of course, this leads to pointless grind sessions where you kill all the enemies in the area, leave the area, come back and kill them all again...you get the idea. I don't mind level grinding; in fact, I tend to live for it. I've played games like Breath of Fire III for the Playstation (PS 1) and trained Ryu to max level. However, Knight Quest isn't quite as entertaining to hold my interest like BoFIII. The visuals are decent enough (thanks to the battle graphics), but with uncreative music, an uninspired plot, and a simple gameplay structure that had potential (Keyword: HAD), Knight Quest might please some and do harm to others. I know one person who likes the game, but it may be too dry for some RPG fans.
- Written by Vyse the determined -