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King's Bounty is a turn-based fantasy video game designed by Jon Van Caneghem and published by New World Computing in 1990. The game follows the player's character, a hero of King Maximus, appointed with the job of retrieving the Sceptre of Order from the forces of chaos, led by Arech Dragonbreath. King's Bounty is notably considered the forerunner of the Heroes of Might and Magic series of games, while it was itself clearly "inspired" by the game Chaos: The Battle of Wizards for the ZX Spectrum.
|Developer(s)||New World Computing|
|Publisher(s)||New World Computing|
Electronic Arts (Genesis)
|Designer(s)||Jon Van Caneghem|
|Composer(s)||Rob Wallace (GEN)|
|Platform(s)||C64, Amiga, MS-DOS, Apple II, Macintosh, Genesis, FM Towns, PC-98, Windows (anthology)|
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game, Turn-based strategy|
A Sega Genesis port was developed and released in North America on February 21, 1991, with a multitude of graphical changes. The gameplay was also modified to incorporate real time overworld exploration.
In 2008, a spiritual sequel titled King's Bounty: The Legend was released.
The player leads the hero and his army across the four continents, acquiring up to 25 pieces of a map revealing the hidden location to the Sceptre of Order before King Maximus dies. Various details of this task are left to player's discretion, allowing for flexible gameplay. For instance, not all the scattered map sections are required; if the player is able to correctly determine the location of the sceptre's burial spot before acquiring all 25 map pieces, the game is won. If the sceptre is not recovered before King Maximus dies (the time varies depending on difficulty setting), the game ends in defeat. The location of the sceptre, the artifacts and which castles the villains inhabit are all randomized each game, adding to its replayability.
The hero is given a weekly commission from the king to track down 17 villains across the 4 continents. With each defeat of the progressively stronger villain's army, the character claims (along with the reward money for the "King's Bounty" on that villain) another piece of the map revealing the sceptre's burial location. Along the way, numerous treasure chests are encountered scattered across the map. Some of these chests represent various events that increase the hero's inherent abilities, such as magical strength or weekly income; others may contain one of eight artifacts, which themselves provide a piece of the map, in addition to conferring their own unique powers.
As the player explores, he encounters various types of creatures native to the different continents, some of which are able to be recruited. Most of these creatures are significant upgrades from the normal human forces available to the player at the King's castle, and are required to defeat the tougher villain armies. However, as their strength increases, so does the amount of gold required to retain them, which must be paid weekly. Although the player's commission can be raised in a variety of ways, such as maintaining a garrison of forces at a captured castle, if his costs exceed his income for too long, and he runs out of money, his army will abandon him. Furthermore, each of the various army units have either a positive, neutral, or negative predisposition towards other. An army composed of creatures that "dislike" each other lowers their "morale", making them much less effective in combat. Conversely, recruiting creatures which share a positive predisposition towards each other increases their morale. Assembling an "ideal" army is another open-ended aspect of the game.
King's Bounty features four selectable hero classes: Barbarian, Knight, Paladin, and Sorceress. Each class varies in magical ability, starting troop power, natural leadership ability, and Commissions (income per week). As the king's bounty is collected on more villains, the king may increase the rank of the hero. This rank determines in part what troops the hero may recruit, and more importantly, the strength of the hero's attributes.
Combat in King's Bounty occurs when sieging an occupied castle or engaging a wandering army on the main map. Combat turns are simple, with the player's army moving first, followed by the opponent's. Armies are stack-based, with any one stack taking up one square on the battlefield. Stacks can represent anything from one cavalry unit to thousands of peasants. The player can use a number of either Adventuring spells, only used in the overworld, or Combat spells. Adventuring spells allow movement to Towns, Castles, create bridges, increase leadership (Raise Control), stop time for some number of moves, finds the villain at a castle, or creates an army stack if the player has a space (Instant Army). During combat, the player can cast one spell per turn that cause damage via lightning, fireball, or turn undead, can resurrect dead troops, teleport a friendly or enemy unit to an open position, freeze an enemy unit so it cannot move, or increase an existing troop through cloning (Clone).
The game's graphics were completely redone (by Bonita Long-Hemsath and Kenneth L. Mayfield). The hair and skin color of many characters were changed, and many of the sprites representing armies underwent redesign. Mouse support was also added making most parts of the screen interactive, by clicking or hovering.
King's Bounty for Sega Mega Drive/GenesisEdit
The Mega Drive/Genesis port of King's Bounty is notably different from the PC version of the game, the most obvious change being the move into the realm of real time. Armies on the overworld now move on their own and automatically engage the hero. This makes the game arguably more difficult, as a careful player of the DOS version could often maneuver past several wandering armies at a time without being successfully engaged. Also affected is the game's time limit. Although it has become harsher, it is somewhat balanced by the fact that trekking across desert squares no longer takes 1 day, and changing continents no longer ends the week.
Gone from this version of King's Bounty are all keyboard controls and hero naming capabilities.
The game uses the same improved graphic set Amiga version had. As a minor change, wandering armies are now displayed according to their most powerful stack, as opposed to the generic stacks of the DOS version that corresponded to the current continent. Nevertheless, the graphics remain trademark New World Computing, with other games like The Faery Tale Adventure appearing similar though featuring different gameplay.
King's Bounty and Heroes of Might and MagicEdit
King's Bounty is widely considered to be the precursor for much of the gameplay in the Heroes of Might and Magic series (the Might and Magic series being the basis for the storyline), both of which were published by New World Computing and designed by Jon Van Caneghem. Among the many similarities, an emphasis on hero development and combat style are especially prominent in both. In the introduction to the player manual of Heroes III, van Caneghem credits King's Bounty as the precursor to Heroes of Might and Magic. King's Bounty is included in some HOMM anthologies, including the Heroes of Might and Magic Compendium and Heroes of Might and Magic Millennium Edition. The anthology versions also provide a native executable for Windows, though not fully supported in Windows NT-based operating systems.
The 2001 PlayStation 2 title Heroes of Might and Magic: Quest for the Dragon Bone Staff is an enhanced remake of King's Bounty made by 3DO.
In 2007, the Russian game publisher 1C Company purchased the property rights to the King's Bounty franchise and attached the name to a title being developed by Katauri Interactive, a company located in Kaliningrad. Prior to the name change, the game's working title was Battle Lord. The game was published in 2008 as King's Bounty: The Legend.
An unofficial fan sequel, usually called "King's Bounty 2", was developed in 1992. The author of the sequel is a Ukrainian programmer Sergey Prokofiev (Russian: Сергей Прокофьев). All text in the game is in Russian, and the messages often feature Russia-specific folklore. No English-language version of the game has been available.
In August 2015, another game called "Royal Bounty HD" was released, which add many of the Heroes of Might and Magic gameplay improvement to the King's Bounty concept.
Free unofficial version of original game (with original graphics and expanded storyline) was published in 2015 by Russian programmer Sergei Markoff (Russian: Сергей Марков), also known as the author of free SmarThink chess engine. The game includes a lot of easter eggs, science jokes and various additional objects like Titan of Braavos and so on.
King's Bounty boardgameEdit
Task Force Games released a King's Bounty boardgame in 1991. Like its computer game counterpart, the object of the game is to catch villains in a fantasy setting. However, other features differ, the villains' names are different and three designers, not including Van Caneghem, are credited for the creation of the game. However, the cover of both the computer game and the boardgame versions are the same, implying some connection between the two.
During the brief period that TFG was owned by New World Computing, the two companies attempted the first ever simultaneous release of a board game and computer game. The two versions of King's Bounty wound up releasing about 9 months apart, and after NWC had sold TFG to former Games Workshop Vice-President John Olsen. Future versions of New World Computing's version of King's Bounty were called Heroes of Might & Magic to avoid confusion between the two very different games that had been designed by different designers. TFG kept the name as the original concept had come from them and the board game designer. TFG never wound up releasing a second version of the King's Bounty board game, the old hobbyist game industry would collapse later this year and the retail distribution chain converted to novelty stores that sold whoopie cushions and Levatrons instead of games.
The common cover art came from one of TFG's regular artists.
Computer Gaming World's reviewer stated that although the game was very short (he finished it in six hours), the narrow time limit, exciting battles, and opportunity to gain power made it appealing to adventurers. The game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #166 by Jager McConnell in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 3 out of 5 stars. The Lessers reviewed the Sega Genesis version of the game in Dragon #175, also giving that version of the game 3 out of 5 stars. The Lessers reviewed the DOS version of the game in 1992 in Dragon #187, again giving that version of the game 3 stars. Retroactively, the game was reviewed by Sega-16.com, who - in consideration of its influence on the Heroes of Might and Magic series - gave it a perfect 10.0 score.
- Ono Tom, Heroes of Might and Magic III: The Restoration of Erathia Player Manual, Mars Publishing, 1999
- Goldstein, Hilary (2007-03-28). "IGN: King's Bounty Returns". IGN.
- Emrich, Alan (November 1990). "A Feast for Some / New World's King's Bounty". Computer Gaming World. p. 32. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (February 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (166): 31–36.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (November 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (175): 57–66.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (November 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (187): 59–64.