Space Quest II: Once a janitor, always a janitor

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

jan1It’s time for the final showdown with Vohaul (at least until the next final showdown)!  Roger gets trapped by walls and a pit of acid, but using his very small brain and very strong plunger, he manages to avoid getting dissolved.  Once a janitor, always a janitor!

Or as I like to call him, Dr. Jan Itor.  That’s a Scrubs reference.  I’ll show myself out now.

jan2Next up on our obstacle course is a rather tough-looking security bot who electrifies Roger to death.  Why can’t I be playing this guy?  He would just bash through obstacles and fry all opponents.

jan3The solution here is to light some toilet paper on fire in a wastebasket, which sets off the sprinklers that short-circuit the bots.  You think that a fire suppression system in space would have electronics in mind, but nope, here’s a bunch of water raining everywhere.

jan4And lo, Roger finally stepped into the inner sanctum of Vohaul!  It’s kind of like he’s just delivering himself up for more revenge, because what’s really stopping Vohaul from summoning guards and sending Roger back to the mines?  Wouldn’t that be the cruelest thing, to throw the player into an unbreakable game loop like that?

jan5Roger approaches Vohaul to give him a piece of his mind, but Vohaul zaps him.  Is this the end of our beloved hero?

jan6Nay, Roger just got shrunk and put into a glass jar nearby as, I dunno, a pet or something.

jan7Once again, Roger’s janitor tools come in handy — this time, a glass cutter helps him get out of the jar.  He wiggles into a nearby vent and, oh hey, what does this button do?  It turns off Vohaul’s respirator, that’s what it does.  Why would this button be inside here anyway?

jan8Honestly?  I kind of feel bad.  I know he’s trying to destroy Xenon and all, but killing him feels like beating up on a very sick person and then smothering them with a pillow.  There’s no glory in it.  Also, I’m still small.

jan9Getting big again isn’t that tough.  Roger bunny hops across a keyboard to tell the machine to embiggen him and then returns to the jar.  Ah!  No more short jokes for him!

jan10Roger stops the launch of the insurance salesmen clones, but the asteroid is on a self-destruct countdown anyway.  Let’s get out of here!

jan11Walk, Roger, walk!  Walk at that infuriatingly slow pace like you have a purpose!  Which is not to die!

jan12There’s a harrowing moment when Roger has to open the escape pod door and get in before the nearby robot sucks the marrow from his bones.  Fortunately, the robot uses dumb robot logic after that.

jan13How many times does this make scrambling onto a ship to escape some place else?  Four?  Five?  Roger needs to settle down in his life, methinks.

jan14And life sucks again.  To survive, Roger scrambles into a sleep chamber and ends the game by drifting through the cosmos while in suspended animation.  When he finally awakes, everything’s going to be very, very different.

Final Thoughts

Much like King’s Quest II, Space Quest II definitely feels like a rushed clone of the first game. The whole structure of the game is more or less Space Quest I, right down to the “blow up the bad guy’s fortress in the end.”

Probably the biggest mark against it other than a lack of originality is the extended and largely uninteresting sequence on the planet Labion.  It just doesn’t feel like sci-fi at all, it’s very boring, and that root monster maze haunts my dreams to this day.  The game definitely picks back up when you get to Vohaul’s asteroid, but even then Roger is left without much of a personality and the main threat/storyline is thin soup at best.

There also are several dead ends that can be reached that more modern adventure players are not used to seeing.  If you don’t get certain items early on, you can get stuck later in the game with no way to go back other than a (hopefully) saved game.  Sometimes the items are way, waaaaay back, but what else did people have to do in 1987 other than replay these games?

Marks for Space Quest II are the still-hilarious deaths and descriptions.  It’s not a terrible game, and while most of the puzzles make sense there are a couple that are just out to mess with you.  I felt that the descriptions and interaction with the player was more playful this time around, and usually those were what made me laugh the most.

Space Quest II is the last of the series to use the old API engine and the last to have this very old feel to it.  I’m going to jump right into Space Quest III to show you the leap forward that the series took at this point.

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