QfG5: Goofiness

If I had to describe the overall style of the Quest for Glory series in one word, that word would be “goofy”. It’s got a mixture of heavy-handed drama and a twelve-year-old’s idea of what’s cool, topped off with a love of puns. Ye gods, the puns. There are a few characters who seem to exist mainly as agents of pun delivery, and even if you avoid those characters, the narrator sometimes indulges in them (chiefly in descriptions of scenery objects).

But the puns are just surface goofiness — Xanth it ain’t. The chief goofiness is the world itself, populated by caricatures and anachronisms. I said that each game is based on folklore from a different part of the world, but that’s only true on a very rough scale. QfG1 put a centaur and a minotaur in a fantasy-pseudo-medieval setting, as well as small dinosaurs and flying manta rays. And consider the four NPCs vying for the throne of QfG5‘s pseudo-Greece:

  • Kokeeno Pookameeso, member of the city guard, always seen wearing one of those Grecian helmets with the brush-like crest. The only local in the running.
  • Elsa von Spielburg, a baron’s daughter from QfG1. When last we saw her, she was a damsel under a curse. Now, she’s a duelist in thigh-high boots and revealing armor. 1Actually, it’s not any more revealing than the getup worn by Kokeeno Pookameeso or Magnum Opus. But, y’know, double standard.
  • Magnum Opus, a Roman gladiator with a very high opinion of himself. Roman? Well, he mentions “Nova Roma” at one point, so maybe it’s fantasy-pseudo-Rome. But we’ve had intrusion of real history into the fantasy world before, as when Haroun al Rashid showed up in QfG2. Anyway, Magnum Opus is an exaggeratedly one dimensional character, prone to saying things like “I, Magnum Opus, the valiant, peerless spearman of the Roman Empire, shall prove the superiority of my skills” regardless of the topic of discussion.
  • Gort, a Frankenstein-like construct created by mad-scientists (in 19th-century attire) on an artificial island. Although Gort is probably the strongest fighter, it’s questionable how effective a king he’d be, seeing how he can’t talk.

So, not something you can take too seriously, despite aforementioned ham-fisted drama. But while I call the style goofy, I will not call it cheesy. The difference? It’s really all down to the authorial voice. When the author gives the impression of being stupid or incompetent, we naturally make a mockery of both the author and the work. But however goofy QfG gets, I get the impression that the author is just having fun with it. Things like Gort are so extremely out-of-place that they pull you out of the fiction for a moment, like Tezuka’s gourd. And it isn’t ironic detachment, either: once the author and player have acknowledged the absurdity, the characters in the world have to take Gort seriously. It’s their world, after all. And since the player is controlling one of the characters, it is to some degree your world too.

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1. Actually, it’s not any more revealing than the getup worn by Kokeeno Pookameeso or Magnum Opus. But, y’know, double standard.

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