King's Field (series)
|Genres||Console role-playing game|
|Platforms||PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Windows, Mobile phones|
December 16, 1994
King's Field IV|
October 4, 2001
King's Field (キングスフィールド) is a console role-playing game series developed by From Software and localized into English by ASCII Entertainment (who later reformed into Agetec). It is known for its brooding atmosphere and cryptic, labyrinthine dungeons. Titles in this series have been released for the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Microsoft Windows, and various mobile phone platforms.
King's Field was released for the PlayStation in Japan on December 16, 1994, 13 days after the PlayStation console itself went on sale. The game's fully 3D, first person perspective was groundbreaking among console role-playing games of the time and received significant critical acclaim.
The next two King's Field titles followed in quick succession: King's Field II on July 21, 1995 and King's Field III on June 21, 1996. King's Field IV was released several years later for the PlayStation 2 on October 4, 2001. A so-called "spiritual successor" to the series, named Demon's Souls, was released February 5, 2009 in Japan for the PlayStation 3.
In King's Field, the player takes the role of Jean Alfred Forester. He is searching for his missing father, Hauser Forester, who disappeared along with his soldiers while exploring a dead king's underground graveyard. Shorter than the others in the series, King's Field includes five floors. The main aspects of game play consist of first-person battles, puzzle solving, and exploration.
After the success of the first game, King's Field II was also released in the United States, under the name King's Field. In the sequel, the player takes the role of Alexander (アレフ lit. Aleph/Alef) the lone survivor of a shipwreck who at the behest of Jean, now King Alfred, tries to fulfill his duty to find and retrieve a mysterious sword from the dangerous island of Melanat.
In King's Field III (released in the US as King's Field II), the player takes the role of Prince Lyle Austin Forester (son of King Alfred) as he struggles to uncover the reasons behind his father’s sudden descent into madness and to restore peace to the suffering kingdom of Verdite.
This time around, a large portion of the game takes place above ground, but the main aspects of gameplay remain unchanged: first-person battles, puzzle solving and exploration.
Overall gameplay remained very similar to the other King’s Field games and entails first-person battles, puzzle solving and exploration. This installment is the largest of the first three and contains various tweaks to the game's user interface which streamline controls and game play.
King's Field IV (released as King's Field: The Ancient City in the US) was the first game from the series released on the Playstation 2 console. The entire game takes place within the Land of Disaster, where the forest folk once dwell until an evil curse came upon the land. The player takes the role of Prince Devian of the Azalin Empire who has been given the task of returning the cause of the blight, the Idol of Sorrow, back to the cursed land. His journey follows the downfall of the Kingdom of Heladin and the failed attempt to return the idol by Septiego the Sword Master who led an expedition of over 1000 men in a failed effort to return the cursed idol.
King's Field: Additional I is the first game of the series released on the Playstation Portable. It was only released in Japan and was never localized to English; however, the game came with a mini-instruction manual in both English and Chinese for grey import buyers. The "Additional" series uses a step-by-step style of gameplay, rather than free-roaming.
King's Field: Additional II, the sequel, also only found a Japanese release, and was never localized to English. It featured the ability to import the player's character from Kings Field: Additional I, including all equipment and statistics.
Sword of Moonlight: King's Field Making Tool is a King's Field designing tool for the Microsoft Windows platform which was released in Japan. It lets the user construct free-standing King's Field games which may be played independently, without having Sword of Moonlight installed. It also contains a full remake of the first King’s Field game originally released on the Playstation. A fan made a full English translation available as a patch.
King's Field Mobile is a KF title released in Japan but was available for purchase and download to anyone with a compatible cellular phone platform. It was followed by two sequels: King's Field Mobile 2, and King's Field EX.
Merchandise and other media
To commemorate their 20th anniversary, From Software released the special collection package called the King's Field Dark Side Box, which contained a reissue of the four King's Field games which had previously been released on the Playstation and Playstation 2, as well as an audio CD, a map of Verdite, and other bonuses.
Critical reception for the series in general was extremely polarized in that people tended to either hate it or love it. Common criticisms include: slow moving player character, low number of game characters (NPCs), difficult gameplay, and muddy colors. Others often cite these very things as what they like about the series.
As opposed to other combat based RPGs, King's Field focuses more on exploration and a dark brooding ambiance. The slow character movement facilitates streaming data from the game disk which eliminates loading screens that plague most Playstation titles. Fans say the lack of loading screens aid in becoming absorbed into the artistry of the title by removing constant reminders that "it's just a game".
While the first three installments continued a single story, the fourth (King's Field IV) begins a new story. All King's Field games share elements of game play and some common items. The Moonlight Sword has been a recurring element in every King's Field title as well as items such as the Earth Herb and Antidote.
In all King's Field releases, except for the PlayStation Portable titles, battles are fought in real time, and usually involve maneuvering to land blows using melee weapons as well as casting offensive ranged-magic spells.
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