September 27th, 2010
King's Quest is largely considered the pinnacle of golden era adventure games, and one of the most influential PC games of all-time. I wouldn't know it, however; I was too busy playing the immersive, adventurous, and totally-awesome Black Cauldron.
Were I of age at the time, I might of followed word-of-mouth recommendations and started my love affair with adventure games with the venerable King's Quest. But I was a kid a the time. It was my mother's IBM PC Jr. She controlled my father's wallet. And so she decided what games I played.
In this case, it was The Black Cauldron, a game based on the 1985 Disney movie of the same name. Little did I know, my mom actually picked a really good game, even if it closely followed the formula first set by King's Quest.
What's more, Black Cauldron actually pioneered a couple of significant game innovations. To make it more accessible to children, developer Sierra removed the text parser in favor of function keys to perform various actions, "an innovative idea that would not reappear in the genre for the next 10 years," according to Wikipedia.
More importantly, Black Cauldron was the first game to incorporate plot branches and multiple endings. "This use of multiple endings predated the more famous use in Lucasfilm's game Maniac Mansion by a year," purports Wikipedia.
In that sense, Black Cauldron was even better than King's Quest. So much in fact that my brother and I played this numerous times, as the experience slightly changed depending on our in-game action. That and to a seven-year old boy, Black Cauldron really made it feel as though I was a young assistant pig-keeper, trying to save the world from a degenerate creature of darkness.
What about you: any clone games you enjoy more than the originator?