Space Quest III: Garbage duty

pir1(This is part of my journey playing through Space Quest III. You can follow the entire series on the Nostalgia Lane page.)

It’s only been two years since the last game came out, but 1989’s Space Quest III was a giant leap forward for the series.  In just about every way, it’s better.  Better graphics (VGA time, baby!), a mouse interface, better sound, more locations, better story, better writing, and better world development.  This is where the frachise really established itself and got quite popular.

It’s also the final Space Quest that I ever played.  I spent many wonderfully frustrating evenings exploring this game on my 386, although my brain has erased most of the specifics outside of a few in-universe pop culture references and some of the fun arcade games that lay within.

pir2See what I’m talking about?  So much better looking!  Space Quest III picks up some time after Space Quest II’s ending, as Roger Wilco has been drifting through space in suspended animation just like Ellen Ripley.  Like Ripley, he gets picked up by a scavenger ship.  Unlike Ripley, he ends up discarded in the belly of a garbage scow.  I find it amusing that space needs a garbage crew to clean it up, but here we are.

pir3I remember that around this era, the graphics on computer games really started looking good — especially to a kid who was long used to cruddy EGA 4-color screens.  This was beautiful back in the day.  Smelly, but beautiful.

Oh, another change with this game?  An actual soundtrack!  After the silence of Space Quest I and II, the music playing here caught me totally off guard.  Really bummed that GOG.com didn’t include the OST as they do with other games, but oh well.

According to Wikipedia, “Space Quest III featured music composed by Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg, and was one of the first games to support the new Sound Blaster sound card.”

Another nice improvement is that Roger walks a LOT faster and is guided by click-to-move instead of arrow keys.

pir4There are a lot more sci-fi references in this game too.  I guess the garbage scow picked up a TIE fighter, an Acme rocket, and the Jupiter 2 along its way.

So let’s take a look at a couple of the menu options:

calc“VaporCalc” is… a non-functioning abacus.  This is kind of a gag aimed at the proliferation of calculator applications that came in several programs around that time.  The more little apps you had, the cooler your product was!

boss keyAnd then there’s a boss key that goes out of its way to broadcast how long you’ve been playing the game.  Do they even have boss keys any more?  They used to be in practically every game — by using one or two buttons, you could clear the screen or have it throw up a spreadsheet or something to show that you were hard at work.  Nowadays we just alt-tab out, I guess.

pir5One other big change?  Much improved death animations, descriptions, and this cute little “game over” window with cheeky icons.  In this case, I’ve been ground up into sausage or something.

That’s it for today — tomorrow we’ll start playing this game in earnest!

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