EG Retro: Legend Of Kyrandia + MAPS!

Remember when games had graphics, eh?

This weekend saw my Eurogamer retrospective of one of the lesser-remembered adventure games of the early Nineties, the Legend Of Kyrandia: Book One. It contained moments like,

“It contained a single cursor. I’m not really sure what to do with this information. Does it undermine everything? Is everything that’s being produced now a homage to Kyrandia?

Obviously not. And not only because Kyrandia also suffers from the same issues. To say the story owes something to the King’s Quest series is a bit like saying Vodafone owes something to the Inland Revenue. In this fairytale land an evil wizard – brilliantly named Malcolm – is removing all the magic and, er, killing a few trees.”

And rather delightfully, it had me making maps for the first time in years. Below!

Now I just want to play games that let you make maps. Look at the fun I had. Here’s the first area of the game. Click on them for engreatening.

I dun dis.

And here are those insane dungeons. If you can figure out the system my markings represent, then you’ve done better than I.

Everyone, go make maps!


  1. lunarplasma says:

    Grid paper!

    I wish I had grid paper at the time. Used plain A4 instead.

    • Fhoenix says:

      Me too!

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Back at my parents house I still have an old school exercise book with various maps and things in – including one for Legend of Kyrandia (or at least part of it – I never completed it, probably didn’t get very far).

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      I’m confused. What do you mean you didn’t have grid paper? Honest question, really. I thought it was pretty much ubiquitous around the world. And very common for students since… forever?

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      In the US, “graph paper” is very uncommon and only used for graphing stuff in math class. Unless you’re a real engineer geek. Plain horizontally lined paper is 99% of what you find in shops.

      Since moving to Germany, I’m a total convert. It’s probably the most common format, and I happily use it for everything.

    • karry says:

      Isnt this supposed to be a British site ? Whats the connection with US here ? Europe doesnt have grid paper as well ?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      At the time of this game, school kids (in the UK) would generally have exercise books for school work rather than loose paper, so you wouldn’t necessarily have large pieces of spare squared paper knocking about for mapping games.

    • JackShandy says:

      If you own a printer, paper, and the Internet, you can have grid paper of every size and shape you can imagine instantly.

      link to

    • iainl says:

      As I mentioned to John on Twitter when he was searching for some (presumably for this very article) I found link to which has downloadable graph paper to print out. Handy!

      Edit – clearly I can’t type very quickly, however.

    • Fhoenix says:

      What does it have to do with been a UK site? There are no seas on the internet! I can guarantee you that people from Russia and Japan also read this)

    • Hoaxfish says:

      I only have photocopy paper stolen from work.

      I’m living the paperless-office dream, doing stuff on computers and never printing it out.

    • Hammurabi says:

      I too am confused as to why the locale of the publisher implies the locale of the readership. To limit RPS to only the UK would be a travesty. Additionally, I can verify that graph-paper/grid-paper can be difficult to come by here in the US. I have always preferred it to lined paper for anything mathematical. It is surprisingly in short supply even at university book stores.

    • karry says:

      “I too am confused as to why the locale of the publisher implies the locale of the readership.”

      It does not. However, since you didnt get that it implies the locale of the articles authors – you really must be confused.

    • Hammurabi says:

      The author does not even mention grid paper, much less the acquisition of it. It is a commenter that raised the point of its availability.

  2. GreatUncleBaal says:

    I never tended to make maps for adventure games, but quite enjoyed doing them for games like Eye of the Beholder, and even Bloodwych back on the Spectrum (on tiny squared graph paper which was even colour coded – my maps had more colour in them than the game). I’d love to see them again now but would probably be quite frightened and ashamed of my younger self.
    Generally, I think, the rise of automapping is a good thing for games (and more necessary now that 3D has pretty much gotten rid of ‘block by block’ games like Beholder and Dungeon Master).
    I gave up on mapping while playing Legends of Valour, as I could only draw vaguely where each building / item / character was, and it was hard to relate your location to the game’s actual map.
    More recently I’ve tried mapping dungeons again on the (apologies) DS game Etrian Odyssey, but it feels so much more like a chore now.

    • karry says:

      Etrian Odyssey at least lets YOU do what you want with the map. In other modern games (even dungeon crawlers) – devs wont even let you annotate the map !

    • HermitUK says:

      I love Etrian Odyssey’s map making. It’s a bit of a shame that the game is light on story and heavy on grind in the gameplay department. But still, maps!

    • Ergates_Antius says:


      Haha, ditto to the graph paper map of Bloodwych on the speccy.

      I’m sure I had a map for LoV though. Maybe it came from some magazine or something. Or maybe I’m just imagining it… (No, apparently one was supplied in the box. Google is your friend).

    • Vexing Vision says:

      I actually did the Bloodwych Maps for the Amiga-version, then sold them to a friend who… err… supplied others?

      It bought me games.

      I was young and thoughtless. :(

    • Harlander says:

      I fondly remember going around the Legends of Valour city, filling in the map with all the buildings, asking people where stuff is in a premonition of Daggerfall.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Yea, Etrian’s map drawing is not fun.

      You end up having to manual tag everything, even if it’s a basic game effect like a secret passage that you’ve just walked through.

      It’s not fun, it’s like filling in tax-forms. It’s a bit like skipping AI-programming by making a PvP-only game.

    • Wulf says:

      I agree with Hoaxfish, mostly because there are some games out there which have marvelously beautiful maps which I certainly couldn’t draw by hand, and the game would feel less without them. I’m sorry to bring up Guild Wars 2 again, but have you seen the beautifully hand drawn maps in that game? They show up in some of the videos and they’re really nice to look at.

      My favourite take on maps are the ones that allow me to hook notes to the map and write whatever I like in those notes. I believe NWN2 did things that way, along with a few others, and I think it’s a nice approach. But I’m definitely not a fan of drawing the entire map because there’s just something missing if one has to do that. I’m not a cartographer, but I appreciate the efforts of those who are.

      In fact, I’ll note how special Guild Wars 1 was in this regard, too, which had one really innovative feature that I really liked – you could draw on the map, so you could plan out tactical strikes in a way that the party could see, this was not only really entertaining, but actually surprisingly useful.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      yea, that’s the kind of map control I like… automated functionality for actually making an accurate map of your travels… but with the option for you to customise it, by dropping notes at specific locations (e.g. “nice view”, “here be dragons”).

      Guild Wars minimap functions a lot like the minimaps you find more commonly in RTSes, where you can ping locations so your allies can see, but it also added the kinda sketchboard functionality so you can draw lines and arrows (and giant wangs) if you want to skip typing and basically short-hand your tactics. Pretty intuitive when I played when you could draw a line to mean stop here, or a big arrow to show where a mob would approach from, or a big arrow to show where everyone should run to, ping a retreat, ping your location for a lost party member.

  3. ScottTFrazer says:

    I made it about halfway through the original wizardry a few months back. I had to print up some grid paper to do the mapping. And choosing spells by typing 4 letter codes out of a spell book? unheard of these days :-)

  4. mcwizardry says:

    Those maps made me remember the fireberries !

    • LionsPhil says:

      “Uh oh…”

      The first two Legends of Kyrandia are grossly underrated. And implying they’re a bit of a King’s Quest ripoff is pretty ridiculous, as they’re substantially less twee.

      Also, that First Forest (and Will-o-Wisp) music. So gloriously relaxing. Westwood were godlike in the ’90s.

      Also also if you get hold of the talkie (the boxed at-the-time CD release I have isn’t, infuriatingly, but you can find it on abandonware sites), Alexander is voiced by Joe Kucan. Which is to say, Kane. Being kind of useless and dying from doing various silly things. (The balance is quite good, really, in that you usually have to either do something monumentally stupid like drink poison, be in an obviously dangerous area, or insist on doing something by clicking it twice, to get killed off.)

  5. tomeoftom says:

    Were you… naming dungeon rooms after chords?

  6. Land says:

    Nice stain!

  7. Auspex says:

    Who are the Inland Revenue? Are they like HM Revenue and Customs?

    Old people are old!

  8. Faldrath says:

    The last map I made was for the Modron Maze in Planescape… whee.

    • Wulf says:


      I remember that thing. They did put a really awesome reason for traversing it in there, though (which I won’t spoil despite thinking that probably everyone knows by now), and it was nice that it was completely optional.

  9. James G says:

    Last map I made was for some game called Legend of Kyrandia, you’ve probably never heard of… wait.
    Seriously though, I actually think it was, the fire-berries bit at least. Played it reasonably recently you see, and obviously most modern games don’t require mapping. Only possibility is I might have done some mapping in an IF binge, but I think my last such binge was before LoK.
    More recently squared paper has been used for construction planning in Dwarf Fortress or Minecraft.

    • James G says:

      Ooh, I’ve just remembered. In my Amiga days I had a glorious A3 pad of graph paper, which I used for mapping. Was absolutely fantastic. Damnit, now I’m getting all nostalgic about mapping. I remember drawing maps for games that didn’t even exist, constructing worlds which I wanted to play in.

  10. Matt says:

    The Kyrandia series were some of my favorite adventure games. It’s been so long since I played them that I’ve completely forgotten what the gameplay was like, so this was a nice retrospective to read.

    Also, I don’t recall mapping anything out for those games… go figure.

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    The second one Hand of Fate didn’t have any horribly complicated maps, but I remember some of the puzzles being a little hair-pullingly-frustrating (just a few of them). Never got to play the first or the third, just the second one.

    • LionsPhil says:

      The potion brewing system in Hand of Fate is the best inventory quirk ever seen in an adventure game.

  12. Risingson says:

    Kyrandia is a nice piece of exploitation in videogames, and also a nice example of how Westwood worked: they became obsessed with a concept (this time, adventures with just one click), and tried to make a game around that concept that usually looked and sounded really good, this time better than the game itself.

    These days I’m playing Eye of the Beholder 2, and it is an amazing game. Not only the engine works perfectly (fast, fluid, furious), but the design of the levels and monsters is so well thought, so measured, so great, that it becomes a bit overwhelming to see so much perfection. They had the best graphics, one of the better composers, the better programmers and they also were really inspired.

  13. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Ahh, Map Making! The hubris of every adventure, rpg, and even action games at the time. Well since consoles back in the 80s introduced more complex games.

    My first maps where well before the PC, on the ZX Spectrum. Gaming magazines were populated with these, and some maps actually elevated to the statute of art. It wasn’t enough to draw a map. It had to be a beautiful map, illustrated if possible. Certainly there was another level of investment in gaming those days.
    The constant requests for in-game mapping, justifiably were understood as advancements in gameplay. But we did lose that whole gaming culture in the process. We can surely revisit them by firing up old classics or getting into the exciting world of emulators of old system, but as a modern “feature”, it is no longer accepted. A game that today forced the player to draw maps on paper, would be poorly understood by a good number of players.

    But all is not lost. We may have terminated a culture that happily lived off time investment and dedication into a game that went beyond just playing it, but we created another; modern modding, although a whole different world, gives that much and more to anyone wishing to enter it.

    Still, Map Making… good times. I think my first map for a PC game was for the Pool of Radiance. Before that, I had done many for the ZX Spectrum.

  14. somnolentsurfer says:

    Didn’t the Longest Journey only have a single action button?

    I played a demo of Hand of Fate, I think. That was the full extent of my experience with this series.

  15. phlebas says:

    I remember the Kyrandia games but never got a chance to play them – are they available anywhere currently or just on ebay?

  16. Birky says:

    John, someone really needs to buy you a copy of Microsoft Visio for christmas.

  17. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Mapping. I like mapping. And Legend of Kyrandia.

    And no, I don’t think I’ve ever used anything other than ordinary lined paper or just blank paper. I especially recall the maps I made for the Prince of Destruction (link to It had a lot of labyrinthine areas.

  18. Robmonster says:

    I have fond memories of this game. For some reason I particularly remember the juggling animation of the Jester when he was juggling the knives, and I remember the sheer frustration when your hero has to collect stones from the dark maze, only for him to *miss* when throwing one into the suspended bowl.

    The dark maze was a fairly horrible section really.


  19. fenriz says:

    wow, i thought my way of mapping rooms was only mine.

    I still have the map for KQ5 desert, if someone needs it.

  20. JackShandy says:

    People should make maps of Minecraft. I want an entire site devoted to nothing but home-made Minecraft atlases. ASAP, thank you, Internet. And some Tom Waits videos while you’re at it, there’s a dear.

  21. Alaric says:

    Legend of Kyrandia is one of my most favorite games ever!
    By the way, John, your notation uses “C” for “cavern,” and a dot next to the “C” denotes rooms where you placed a fireberry on the floor. Other letters describe the few rooms where something is actually located along with a source of light.

  22. Alaric says:

    I don’t recall deaths coming out of nowhere. Each one was very reasonable in my opinion. Here are a few that I remember:
    1) Trying to jump over a fast river in a cave with the broken bridge.
    2) Reaching for the apple with the snake sitting right there.
    3) Going into caverns with no light source.

  23. LionsPhil says:

    Your memory is faulty; LoK was remarkably kind, with Alexander usually offering a first-refusal to do suicidal things like cross the unsafe bridge, or the lava.

    Grab some popcorn and lament that LucasArts worship killed off this aspect of the fun of adventure games. (Note that you can die in Full Throttle, one of their best! They just effectively autosave for you.)

    (That said there’s a couple of truely jerkwad cases where trying to go for the menu at a bad time will kill you.)

    One more for luck!

  24. EBass says:

    Had this when I was very young, never managed to get through it. Just about all I can remember is Malcolm coming out a cave and throwing daggers at me, fixing an unsafe bridge and trying to pick a jewel from a tree and getting bitten by a snake and dieing.

  25. Ezhar says:

    That looks oddly familiar, but I can’t remember playing it.

    Also, maps.