LucasArts versus Sierra: Part One

King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown
Sierra On-Line
Released: 1984

King’s Quest: Quest for the Crown brought 16-color graphics and more detailed animation to the table. Less like the interactive fiction that preceded it, and more like proper point-and-click adventures that would follow, Quest for the Crown represents an important milestone for the genre.

Above: He’s walking. He’s actually walking into the background and foreground! Go Sir Graham! Work those sexy 16-color legs of yours!

Pantaloon Points: Quest for the Crown gets ten graham crackers and a pair of pantaloons for leading the way for future adventure titles.


King’s Quest II: Romancing the Throne
Sierra Entertainment
Released: 1985

King’s Quest gets its first sequel and becomes a bona fide series. Like its predecessor, Romancing the Throne still relied heavily on typed text commands. The first modern point-and-click adventure game is still a ways off.

Word association points: We are pleased to give Romancing the Throne a Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny Devito head for having a similar title to the 1984 adventure film, Romancing the Stone.


Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter
Sierra On-Line
Released: 1986

Roger Wilco’s quest for “truth, justice, and really clean floors” begins with the release of the very first Space Quest game. You still controlled your character with the keyboard and had to play a bit of guess-the-right-verb to type to figure out the appropriate commands, but it was a far cry from the traditional medieval fantasy worlds of King’s Quest. Unlike the noble and chivalrous protagonists featured in the King’s Quest series, Roger Wilco was a lazy good-for-nothing janitor who seemed to prefer sneaking naps to saving the day. It was funny. It was different. And in the end, the day was saved after all.

Pop culture points: We’re giving The Sarien Encounter three beards and two pairs of sunglasses for featuring musicians that looked like ZZ Top and The Blues Brothers in a bar. We’re also giving it one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer for having a bar in the first place.


King’s Quest III: To Heir is Human
Sierra On-Line
Released: 1987

To Heir is Human was the first King’s Quest game to star a new protagonist and featured the worst subtitle pun in the series so far. This time, players took control of a young lad named Gwydion. A princess was saved, a dragon was slain, and peace was restored to the land of Daventry.

Dragon kill points: To Heir is Human earns three well-deserved dragon kill points for the slaying of a three-headed dragon. These points may be used to bid on any epic loot that drops the next time its guild goes on a raid in World of Warcraft.


Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Sierra On-Line
Released: 1987

Sierra continues to pump out the hits with unrelenting stamina in what appears to be a completely one-sided match so far. This time, your quest was to help the horribly hopeless (and horny) Larry Laffer get laid. The “adult content” in the game seemed racy at the time, but it was a commercial success. That’s one more notch in Sierra’s belt.

Fist bump points: Larry’s first adventure gets four fist bumps for making the hopeless loser one of the most lovable and memorable characters in the history of adventure games.


Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel
Sierra On-Line
Released: 1987

The pummeling in this epic showdown continues as Sierra introduces yet another popular adventure. In the first Police Quest game, you played as Sonny Bonds, an officer of the law. Unlike the idyllic fantasy world of King’s Quest and the silly sci-fi setting in Space Quest, Police Quest rubbed your face in the gritty reality of the real world. Teenagers with drug problems, a prostitute, a gang of bikers, and a showdown with a deadly cocaine dealer are just some of the things that set Police Quest apart from the other “Quest” games released by Sierra so far.

Public safety points: Police Quest earns four golden badges for being used to train real life police officers due to its realistic depiction of proper procedures and the way it showed the potential consequences of not following them.


Maniac Mansion
Lucasfilm Games
Release: 1987

Sierra may be leading in terms of quantity so far. But it was time for team Lucas to strike back with the release of Maniac Mansion, which trumped Sierra’s library with lots of features and ideas that were foreign to adventure games at the time.

Why have one ending or playable character when you could have many? Maniac Mansion offered several playable characters and multiple endings. It was also the first Lucasfilm game to use the SCUMM (“Script Creation utility for Maniac Mansion”) engine, which laid the groundwork many of the most memorable LucasArts adventure games to come. The SCUMM engine further improved upon the “slot machine” mechanic developed for Labyrinth: The Computer game, allowing players to point-and-click to select their actions instead of typing.

But more importantly, Maniac Mansion was fun and hilarious. Full of wonderfully weird characters and purposefully campy B-movie horror moments, Maniac Mansion truly marked a new milestone for the adventure genre and still has a strong fan base over a decade after it originally released.

Bad Ash Points: Maniac Mansion earns itself ten Bruce Campbell heads for its awesome B-movie moments and for pushing the adventure genre forward by leaps and bounds.



Things may look mighty grim for the Lucas camp so far. Although they seem prepared for almost anything with their towel and trusty David Bowie heads, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Sierra’s already got a comfortable lead with lots of graham crackers and two Gelflings to munch on while kicking back on the plump head of Devito. But this battle is far from over. Both team Lucas and Sierra have many new games and sequels up their sleeves as we near the height of the adventure game genre. Find out what happens next as when the clash of the adventure game titans continues next week in LucasArts vs Sierra: Part Two.

May 14, 2009

Fan Art versus Official Art
A showdown between fan-made creations and their official counterparts

Old predictions of the future of gaming
From 1950 to the noughties, we look back at the history of gaming’s future


  • Solid_Gabriel - May 17, 2009 2 p.m.

    There are a lot of great underground adventure games made by fans and small studios on the internet. You guys should check out games like 5 days a stranger, 7 days a skeptic, Pleurghburg dark ages, Enclosure, etc. I bet you'll feel like playing one of these great games made by Sierra and Lucasarts.
  • RonnyLive19881 - May 15, 2009 10:55 p.m.

    Lucas wins, they have Bruce Campbell!
  • Xeacons - May 15, 2009 3:49 p.m.

    I think it's pretty close! With all the Quests from Sierra and Lucas's movie licensees, it's tough. Don't forget Sam & Max! God, they need to go back and remake Labyrinth for next generation! Favorite movie ever!
  • Arucard04 - May 15, 2009 11:49 a.m.

    Wow this is an awesome article because I just recently "discovered" the adventure genre. I've played like 20 classic adventure games in the last couple of months and I gotta say....Lucasarts may look beaten in the 80's, but for anyone not familiar with the genres history, wait til the 90's! Also there's some great Adventure games still coming out that are not part of the Nancy Drew series.
  • notthatgoodthanks - May 15, 2009 7:11 a.m.

    Yeah its got to be lucasarts for the win! Monkey Island, Day of the tentacle, full throttle, sam and max, grin fandango....HAS TO BE... I got too much love for these games for lucasarts to fail. Can't wait to see the rest of this feature.
  • garnsr - May 15, 2009 4 a.m.

    I remember the Sierra games, but I never had a computer, so I was only able to play Maniac Mansion on NES, and Monkey Island and Willy Beemish on Sega CD. I always wanted to play more, but Lucas Arts had tons I wanted, and Sierra just had titles I knew, but didn't think were as cool. When will these all be released on a single disc compilation on current systems? Argh!
  • JohnnyFirebird - May 15, 2009 2:22 a.m.

    If you're going to give Maniac Mansion points for advancing the genre, then you should be doing the same to Manhunter. It's style of room-based puzzle solving would be later emulated by games like Myst, especially since it was (almost completely) parser free, with a single cursor used for context-sensitive action. Plus the Manhunter games were awesome.
  • JeffK - May 15, 2009 12:04 a.m.

    I would bring up some of the forgotten titles, but they're not technically adventure games, and that lets in the whole gamut of Star Wars games for LA. But, ah, fuck it: (Incidentally, I knew I was missing an adventure game earlier...Gold Rush!) Jones in the Fast Lane Thexder 1 and 2 Manhunter 1 and 2 Codename:Iceman (this wasn't very good) Hoyle's Book of Games (I still play gin on this multiple times a month, as nobody has topped it) And then the not-so-forgotten: SWAT 1-4 (criminally underrated) Front Page Sports' line (FPS 98 is still played by thousands, the best football sim ever made, and Baseball was goddamn phenomenal for its time) Red Baron The Adventures of Willy Beamish (I'm leaving out Half Life...) M_L, I never got into LSL, even as a pubescent boy. Not sure why. I do remember the age protection on the first game that just asked questions any reasonably bright kid could answer most of, and just guess at the others.
  • Master_Leep - May 14, 2009 11:23 p.m.

    I am loving this article.. JeffK, I grew up with very similar video game standards. I remember getting Kings Quest I on cartridge for the family's new IBM PCjr. Ever since then I was hooked on sierra games. I too always got a new sierra game for Christmas or birthday presents, and I loved them. All of that plus the fact that the LSL series was perfect for an adolescent boy to misinterpret sex via computer game.... How many kids get that these days..
  • GrantG - May 14, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    3rd!! man, its nice to be on top!
  • CuddlyBomber - May 14, 2009 10:23 p.m.

    Aww man labryzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
  • smallberry - May 16, 2009 4:24 a.m.

    @muffchild - Damn I've watched a ton of Frasier and never seen that. Coincidentally, I'm watching the series finale right now. I believe Dean Erickson is a real estate agent now. reCapthca: must crapping <- heehee
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - May 15, 2009 11:27 p.m.

    @ solsunforge - Sounds like you're talking about the new Sam & Max, which is pretty average from what I've heard. We're talking about the original Sam & Max Hit the Road, released by LucasArts in 1993. An undeniable classic.
  • GamesRadarCharlieBarratt - May 15, 2009 11:25 p.m.

    @ muffchild - You know I noticed! He served them coffee and had his hair in a ponytail. That's pretty much the only other place I've seen that poor actor. Dammit, now I've admitted to loving Gabriel Knight and to watching Frasier...
  • Demonflare - May 15, 2009 9:03 p.m.

    Ahh! Lots of words for this article! I have nothing to say which/who is better. I just think they both sux.
  • muffchild - May 15, 2009 6:44 p.m.

    has anyone who's played Gabriel Knight: beast within (2nd one) notice that the guy who played Gabriel (Dean Erickson I think) worked at cafe Nervosa on Frasier? it was one of the first season episodes. nearly shit when I saw him there. "thats me, gabriel knight."
  • pimlicosound - May 15, 2009 4:25 p.m.

    Nice John Lee Hooker reference.
  • solsunforge - May 15, 2009 8:13 a.m.

    Sam and max is way overhyped. Yeah its funy but it gets very annoying after awhile. I couldnt even play more then 1 episode in the same sitting. I also forgot another al lowe tital torins passage and roberta willaims phantasmagoria series was the first game to use fmv(full motion video)
  • SwampRock - May 15, 2009 5:55 a.m.

    these awards make me want to play beautiful katamari... my dad bought that game for my sister but she never played it and I did and I just love it a nice break from *rev *rev aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh, F U marcus, wheres my wife?! I'm gonna shoot her in the face! dom, stop trying to add to the story I'm the main character
  • smallberry - May 15, 2009 5:40 a.m.

    I words. Thank you.

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