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Written by  :  Jayson Firestorm (156)
Written on  :  Jul 25, 2002
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars3.2 Stars

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Fair but very average sequel in the series

The Good

Well, any Space Quest is good Space Quest (even though my critique of this one may seem to suggest otherwise!). As always, there’s some good challenges mixed in that will make you think to solve them, and everything has that “heyday of Sierra” feel about it.
There’s good use of solving puzzles by manipulating objects in a certain way via the text input. For example (SLIGHT SPOILER), at one stage, you’re crawling in a dark series of tunnels, where you have a glow-in-the-dark gem to see but need both hands to crawl; the solution is to "hold gem in mouth". Exactly the sort of puzzle that would be lost when the “point and click” (no typing) interface took over in later Sierra games.
It’s also quite satisfying how you can complete puzzles and the game, but not using the best or full solution, leaving you short of points and giving you something to go back to and try again – much better than several later Sierra and LucasArts games, where everything was pretty much linear and there was only one way to do everything.
Whilst having played the first game will help get the full grasp of things (such as just why Vohaul wants you captured in the first place!), there’s no real need to have played the first one to get into this one – it stands up on it’s own.
Oh, and one other thing – the comic that came with the game. Ahh, for the days when wonderful extras like this were thrown in. Maybe not in the same league as the later LucasArts’ classic Sam & Max comic manual, but still really good, and a welcome extra.

The Bad

Well, a few things didn’t quite click for me with this one. I did like this game, honest! But…
Being released a mere few months after the original Space Quest, there are maybe a few signs that this was a somewhat rushed sequel.
The graphics and interface are virtually identical to the first one; normally in Sierra adventures, there at least some small tweaks between games at least. In fact, the initial opening screen is identical to that in Space Quest 1 – when I first played it, for a moment I worried that I’d somehow got a copy of SQ1 by accident!!
The sound is average to what you’d from the era, but it did seem to me to be very sparse in places.
My main gripe is that there are only two real areas to explore – the jungles of planet Labion, and Sludge Vohaul’s asteroid base. Much of the enjoyment of the original was that there was much leaping from planet to planet. But in this one there isn’t really much of that, making it seem rather limited compared to just about every other SQ instalment. Being stuck on a single jungle planet for much of the game is rather static for a Space Quest outing; and the majority of it, to me, felt like it could just as easily have been out of one of the ‘Kings Quest’ games.
The other key SQ ingredient – lots of bizarre, strange beings to meet and interact with, is also notably lacking in this one. And what few characters there are, are basic compared to those that grace other entries in the series.
There are some good puzzles, but most of them are overcome with one single action, and seem rather undeveloped.
This game is definitely the most humour-light in the series – aside from having the odd quip here and there, much of it is pretty ordinary, with no real laugh out loud material like so many other SQs in the series. (Much of this is to do with the lack of characters to interact with). Oh, and Vohaul’s plan to fill planet Xenon with evil clone salesman – (semi) amusing maybe, but it’s never strong enough nor developed enough to hang the entire plot on.
There’s no glorious ending with this one – it leads well into Space Quest III, but on it’s own it is pretty flat, with the adventure finishing quite abruptly (I actually re-played the ending over several times, thinking I’d missed out something. I hadn’t).
The original had so many great little bits, such as finding the best spaceship to buy, and then the best robot to co-pilot it; SQ2 has no really nice touches like that. Thank goodness the designers flair returned in SQ3, which was much closer in concept to the original.

The Bottom Line

This game is too good to associate with the word “weak”; but if I had pick the weakest instalment of the Space Quest series, this one would probably be it. It doesn’t really have anything to make it instantly memorable. After all the planet hopping and crazy situations of the original, the programmers seemed to run a little short of inspiration on this one – thank goodness it returned in Space Quest III, where the series really came into its own!
But all that said, don’t think that Space Quest II is BAD – it’s still a good game in it’s own right.