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Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (DOS)

78
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.0
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Terry Callahan (67)
Written on  :  Dec 30, 2008
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars4.2 Stars

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Summary

Great game, but sadly falling short

The Good

Space Quest... part of the 'quest' series of games produced by Sierra, one of the most beloved and well-known video game companies of times past. When I was a kid whenever I heard 'Sierra' it simply meant a fantastic game, no matter what. They had that charm that just sucked you and in and all the cameos and in-jokes (still obvious to the player) made it look like the people who made it, from top to bottom, are just one fun-loving group who want to entertain as much as make a profit... and you knew them all, something not common today.

Space Quest 3 is sequel to everyone's favorite janitor after whatever mess he managed to clean up last time. It's actually a fairly interesting scenario that he's in, and most people don't even notice it. In the previous game, Roger Wilco (which in this game became his official name instead of the default if you didn't enter anything before) was forced to put himself into some kind of hibernation in order to survive since he had so little time left before the life support died. It was a nice ending, really, but it leaves you to wonder... just for HOW long has Roger Wilco been there? In the depths of space, easily decades, or even centuries. That's when the story comes in.

OK, now I'll really start discussing what's good about the game. First of all, the humor that's so common to a lot of Space Quest games is here and in full swing. Just the very first few screens probably reference over half a dozen sci-fi shows and movies of the past and they're very obvious about it. Some of the puzzles are actually quite interesting and do require some thinking and exploration, and not all of them are obvious, which is, in a way, a good thing and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

The graphics and sound were a bit above average for a 1989, and a lot of the drum tunes were very well done in my opinion. Plus you can't help but laugh at the Microsoft and McDonald jokes found there, and let's not even get started on the 'tourist' spots parodied!

The Bad

All righty then, the bad. As much as I cherish every single Sierra game ever made (I own as many of them as I can, and I just wish I could get more memorabilia), I would have to criticize this game since it does have some short comings. Though in a way they could actually be excused if you saw it from a different angle.

First of all, the game itself is one of the shortest Sierra games I've ever played, and there's not much in way of risk if you know exactly what to do and when... the same cannot be said of most other adventure games. Also there are very few 'extra' points or alternate solutions in the game. This is very important because, as a sort of tradition, Sierra games frequently had a few dozen points that could be obtained by doing things that aren't obvious or finding stuff that most people overlook. In this game, there is only one real situation like that, with another one having two different solutions (one giving more points), but that's it. The game is very straight forward in that regard and the only really difficult part is just in the beginning before you take off in the Aluminum Mallard (an obvious play on 'Millennium Falcon'), the game becomes very simple after that, actually.

And it's simplicity was obvious in the fact that it was the FIRST sierra game me and my brother ever finished without having to look for a walkthrough (and that was in the pre-Internet, not an easy thing to pull off). The only thing that really surprised us was finding the message at the end of the Astro Chicken game... I can still remember my brother's expression and gasp when we saw that coming. But other than that, there's not much challenge in it.

Some parts of the game are completely illogical and glaringly underdone. For example, one vital part of the game involved you having to disable the force field generator. Yet you do this by just grabbing a grenade from a group of surveyors (why'd they need it to begin with?) after they leave the planet with all their equipment just lying there... you don't even do anything, just wait and they're gone! Then you waltz into the compound, climb a ladder that seems to serve no purpose other than getting you into a strategically placed position to destroy the whole generator with just one grenade! Wow, that was really weak.

I love Sierra games a lot and saying stuff like that is not easy for me to do. But in all other Space Quest games that involved sneaking around (i.e. all of them), they had sequences that were far more believable and better done than that. There was really no excuse for them to make something like this. Adding guards and alternate routes and puzzles along the way would have made the game a lot better.

Now that I'm done with the major problems, I want to mention a presumably major problem that I don't believe is worthy of much criticism... the lack of plot. I know that most people critiqued the game for its lack of plot, but I believable it can and should be forgiven. For one thing, the game takes place in an indeterminate period of time after Roger went into hibernation, and it's never given directly, but we could say it's a LLOOONNNGGG time when you hear the joke given by terminator robot. Seriously, in order for the price of a cheap toy to have interest that rose to that kind of money must take centuries at the very least. At that point in time, Roger Wilco had no home, no job, and (probably) no surviving friends or relatives... with the exception of the terminator and his employer. This leaves Wilco to have a reforge everything anew. The only real problem with this is that Wilco had no actual motivation to want to rescue the 2 guys from Andromeda to begin with, and they were only two guys, not a whole planet to save or anything. If they'd have included just a touch more plot about him tangling with scumsoft before all that to give him that motivation, it would have been a lot better.

The Bottom Line

This is a Sierra game! It's great, it's engaging, the main character is the type of guy that you will NEVER forget no matter how hard you try, and it has a staying power beyond words. I played and finished this game at age 8 and I never forgot how to do it. That's what it is. ;)