Friday, 26 July 2013

Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon

I'm a huge fan of the Space Quest games, they have just the right combination of things I like. Lots of humour, sci-fi references and adventure gaming goodness. The third in the series is one of the best adventure games of the time, if a little short. How short? We'll find out as we play through.
Sierra! So many great adventures (I took this picture at 23:05)

The game opens with our intrepid hero Roger Wilco finding himself on a garbage scow. After drifting in space in an escape pod, I guess it's the best he could hope for. (How did he end up in an escape pod drifting through space? Well, that's all told in Space Quest 2 and isn't really important except for a single inventory item - a glowing green gemstone).
Look at that dithering, making the most of 16 colours.

Searching around the huge garbage ship doesn't take as long as you'd think, and I quickly found myself all the equipment I needed and a shiny(ish) space ship to boot! People just throwing away perfectly good warp motivators too. I'm not the only one looking for salvage though, and I got in a fight with an oversized rodent over some wires.
My new(ish) space ship!

I had the last laugh, I took back my wires, a small power generator and even his ladder (Ouch!). A few nifty repairs here and there, and I blasted my way into space. Once there, I realised I wasn't even sure where I should go. The nearest place was a Monolith Burger, but I wasn't hungry. Ortega looked far too hot and boring, so instead I opted for the pink planet, Phleebhut.
Phleebhut, the pinkest planet in the galaxy.

Hot on my tail is definately-not-Arnold-as-the-terminator, or the terminator for short. I forgot to mention earlier in my casual mention of Space Quest 2, that Roger committed mail fraud. Why did I sign the form with my real name? I guess I must be an idiot. In debt for a rather mighty 400,000 buckazoids, my only recourse is to run, hide, cry, beg and perhaps with a lot of luck fluke a victory of some sort.

Phleebhut is an awful place, full of things to kill you, but it does have a gift shop - a "World of Wonders" no less! It's full of crap, but I can sell my glowing gem (obviously I don't need it, right?) for a whopping 450 buckazoids (after haggling a little). Newly rich, but not enough to pay my debts, I decide to spend a bunch of money on various useless tat, like an Orat-on-a-stick, an Astro Chicken hat and a pair of thermal underwear.
Invisible as well? I have no chance.
Leafing through the postcard rack I spy a card for Ortega, advertising the hot climate and majestic lava flows. Having read it, and having nobody to send it to, I decide not to buy it.

Outside, I'm greeted by the friendly representative of the Gippazoid Novelty Company, an android that bears a striking resemblance to a popular 80s action hero. I'm so dazed by this likeness that I barely notice as he grabs my shirt and lifts me two feet off the floor. Thankfully, it turns out I am beneath his contempt because instead of killing me he graciously gives me ten seconds to run away and make things a little more interesting.
Knowing the game like the back of my hand (better probably), I decide to enter the giant robotic shell of the World of Wonders - shaped like a dinosaur with a waving arm. Reaching the top (a dead end!), I await my fate, before pushing a heavy pulley and chain right into the androids face. The force is just enough to send him into the whirring machinery which chews him up and spits him out, leaving me with a shiny new invisibility belt. Job well done! Next stop, Monolith Burger for a burger and fries, or at least some sort of food-like substance.
This is a hateful game.
While there, I nearly choke on a decoder ring (way cool!), and play some Astro Chicken. Truly an awful, awful game, and I'm not just saying that because I'm terrible at it. After a few meagre successes (and a lot of failures), I get a secret message that tells me the designers are in trouble! (after that mess of a game, I feel little pity)
Decode the secret message!

Turns out they're on the moon of Ortega, which I'd never heard of because it doesn't exist... OR DOES IT? (spoiler: It totally does). I disrupt the carefully managed cloaking system by dropping some explosives into it, before beating a hasty retreat. Subtlety has never been Roger Wilco's strong suit.
That's no moon! Oh wait no it is.

Once the cloaking field is down, it's a short trip to ScumSoft's headquarters. The invisibility belt comes in handy to sneak in, and I find a welcome home in a janitor's closet. They even have overalls in my size! After a little janitorial work in the cubicle maze, I managed to pinch the boss's keycard and a photocopy of his picture. Now I can get past the only locked door in this place.

Glad I don't work somewhere like this.
Finally, I meet The Two Guys from Andromeda, legendary game developers. They seem to be stuck in blocks of jello, but my trusty janitorial skills don't let me down now. My escape plan lacks a little panache though...

The horror, the horror...
Forced to fight in an arena, my giant robot controlling skills were just barely up to the task. I knocked down the boss and Roger and co. could make their escape to their ship. Not out of the woods yet, I had to fight my way past several waves of pirate ships before finding out the lightspeed motivator wasn't working.
$59.99?? in 1989?? I surely hope not!

One of the two guys tried to fix it, and sent us into a black hole - and to Earth! Meeting Ken Williams (co-founder of Sierra On-Line) was great, and he was keen to offer the Two Guys a job making the Space Quest games. Roger, on the other hand, was again left to wander the galaxy, alone. A sad end to a heroic story, but more adventures lie in store for Roger Wilco.
Well, that was a fun little adventure, but I'm actually quite shocked at how quickly I managed to get through it. I was expecting it to be short, but it actually took me a whopping 65 minutes from start to finish, and that's with wasting a bit of time playing Astro Chicken and being terrible at the robot fighting.
I still love the game, it's got plenty of funny moments and great locations to visit and puzzles to solve. I know it so well, it's hard to be objective, especially given the series is one of my favourites. I heartily recommend it, especially since you can get the full series (six games) for about £10 these days.
708 out of 738, not bad. (screenshot taken at 00:10)

Coming up soon is a new adventure from the Two Guys from Andromeda, who have re-formed and financed "SpaceVenture" on Kickstarter. Here's hoping it lives up to their previous games!

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