The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One

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North American MS-DOS cover.

The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One is a graphical adventure puzzle game developed by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Games in August 1992 for Amiga and MS-DOS, and later ported to FM Towns, Macintosh, PC-98, and Windows. This is the first game in the The Legend of Kyrandia series. Westwood created a new category of games with this title called "Fables & Fiends," but they only used it for the Kyrandia series, despite it fitting with the Lands of Lore series as well.

In the game, an evil jester named Malcolm has escaped from his prison and, armed with the powerful magic Kyragem, is seeking revenge from those who imprisoned him. You play Brandon, the grandson of the wizard Kallek who has been turned into stone by Malcolm, who must not only find a way to return his grandfather to flesh, but must also stop Malcolm before he destroys your homeland.

Personal

My high school girlfriend owned the CD-ROM version of this game and I played it with her in the late 1990s. We got to the Serpent Grotto maze before ending our session. Later, she told me that she had beat the game without me, which made me a bit disappointed (although, after playing the game again much later, I assume she meant she solved the cave, because the game itself is quite difficult). Years later, I got a copy of the game myself and even brought with me when I met Frank Klepacki in 2019 to have him sign it. I didn't restart playing the game until 2020.

Status

I own this game on CD-ROM Windows and have it signed by Frank Klepacki. I am currently playing it.

Review

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6 6 10 4 3

Best Version: MS-DOS

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The graphics are utterly amazing for this era. The background art is vibrantly colored and highly detailed, the character animation is fluid, and the pixel art of the sprites are fantastic.
  • Although the voice acting isn't fantastic, the fact that the game has speech for the entire game's dialog was pretty impressive for 1992.

Bad

  • Many of the forest backgrounds are reused throughout the game to pad the size of the map. This wasn't too uncommon of a practice at the time, but it still looks bad.
  • The vast majority of rooms have very little to do, you can't even click on something to get a better description of what it is. While this speeds up the game play because only those things that are relevant to the game can be clicked on, it also makes the game a lot less interesting.
  • Some of the puzzles don't let you try obvious items. For example, you need to douse a fire, but you can't use a flask of water. There is also a locked door, but I can't use an iron key. Even if they didn't want to animate the item not working, they could have at least given a message explaining why it wouldn't work.
  • None of the music really impressed me.
  • One of the rocks is hidden unfairly in the serpent grotto.
  • The well fills with water... that's not how wells work.
  • There is very little optional content. Every puzzle is solved the same way.

Ugly

  • The limited inventory really slows down the game. Since there is no why to tell when an item is no longer necessary, and dozens more items than you can fit in your inventory, you're often forced to drop items and come back for them later, even if that means having to navigate a huge maze to get back to them.
  • There are a lot of puzzles that have no hints to them, or hints that are very obtuse. For example, the only clue that you need to dump two same-colored items into the cauldron to get a working potion is Brandon saying the potion is "half-finished." Where and how you use the orange potion makes no sense at all. There is a very slight hint with Brandon saying it tastes like alfalfa, but all potion say something odd like that. The bell puzzle has no hints at all, you just have to brute force them. The book puzzle has no hints, you just have to try spelling all sorts of different words with them. The royal item puzzle has no hints, you just have to brute force them.
  • There is a pretty serious way to put the game into an unwinnable state, you need to have four specific items in your inventory before you reach the final island where you become trapped. You won't know which items are necessary, and you will have dozens to choose from.

Media

Box Art

Documentation

Videos

Demo trailer.
Longplay - DOS.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
Chinese 超级马力欧兄弟 Chāojí Mǎlìōu Xiōngdì The Legend of Kailandia
English The Legend of Kyrandia: Book One
Hebrew דברי ימי קירנדיה The Chronidia Chronicles
Japanese
Korean 키란디아의 전설 Kilandiaui Jeonseol Kirlandia's Legend

Links

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