Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon is a comedic graphic adventure puzzle video game developed and published by Sierra On-Line on 1989-03-24 initially for MS-DOS, and later for Amiga, Atari ST, and Macintosh. It is the third game in the Space Quest series and the first to use the Sierra Creative Interpreter version 0. The game was primarily designed by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy who go by the moniker "Two Guys from Andromeda."
The game's plot takes place following the end of the second game. Hero Roger Wilco awakens to find himself trapped on a junk barge owned by androids who have little regard for organic life. As he tries to escape, hijinks ensue.
Although I very much enjoyed the first two Space Quest games, I had little desire to play old graphic adventures and continue the series. However, my friend Beau encouraged me to play the third game saying it was both easy and short. So, I started playing it and ended up beating it the next day on 2021-01-11, needing two hints, with a score of 698 out of 738. After beating the game I was shocked to find out that many fans of the series rank this as their favorite.
I own this game in a Steam collection and have beaten it.
Best Version: MS-DOS
— This section contains spoilers! —
- There are several laugh-out-loud jokes through the game, and plenty of chuckles. These are not just from the writing, but also from the various sci-fi films that are lampooned.
- The EGA graphics, drawn by Crowe and Murphy, were really impressive for the time, and hold up well. The backgrounds are highly detailed and the sprite animations are well-drawn, and the death graphics are really funny. The lighting effects on Roger are also a nice addition.
- Bob Siebenberg's music was great for the time (taking advantage of the best hardware of the day), and more than passable decades later. The score includes various themes and ambiance and functions as a coherent soundtrack. For example, Monolith Burger plays the game's theme, but with a contemporary elevator music feel.
- The joke about your sentence being just too well-crafted for the game to understand was hilarious the first time I read it, but, by making it the only response for an unexpected input, I very quickly became annoyed with it as I struggled with the limited parser.
- The long delays with the claw puzzle make it annoying to get the item you're reaching for, and even more annoying when you're trying to deliver it.
- The "puzzle" with the rat thief was disappointing. I wasted a lot of time trying to come up with a way to actually prevent the rat from robbing me (assuming it was like the dwarf in the first King's Quest), only to find that you just do the same thing twice and get a different outcome to "solve" it.
- A large portion of the rooms in the game are either completely empty or contain only a very basic hazard to avoid. By my count, 26 rooms (almost half in the game) have no items to get or puzzles to solve, they exist only as impediments to get from point A to point B. This leaves the game with an empty unfinished feel to it.
- I don't like how the invisibility belt can't be used to bypass the pirates. It's nice that the designers prevent you from wasting it there and entering an unwinnable state later in the game, but it doesn't make sense. They should have either come up with a better way to prevent you from using it too soon, or given you an alternate route later.
- The rotating hallway in the offices of Scumsoft looks nice, and I like that it breaks up the typical view of the game, but it's a pain to navigate as the bumbling Roger constantly smacks into the walls.
- The maze in the accounting department of Scumsoft is obnoxious. Once you figure out what you need to do, it just becomes an exercise in save scumming.
- The Nukem Dukem robot battle was far too easy and not very fun.
- The game is a bit too short and too easy. I finished it in only a couple of hours, and I felt like most of the difficulties I had with the game was from struggling with the limited parser. There is a fourth wall-breaking joke near the end of the game where you're asked if you feel the cost of $59.95 is justified, and, without hesitation, I'd have to say, no, it wasn't.
- The hint book tries to be funny, but the jokes are especially lame.
- The game's plot--the Two Guys from Andromeda have been kidnapped by a terrible game company and forced to make games--is not only self-serving and ill-fitting, but it also doesn't work. Roger doesn't have the slightest idea who they are and has plenty of his own problems to deal with, so what motivates him to risk his life to save them? Also, why does Elmo Pug challenge Roger to Nukem Dukem robots rather than just kill him? The ending only expands on the absurdity of it all. A bit of absurdity is to be expected in a comedy game, but this was just lazy story writing.
- The Astro Chicken game is not only a cheap rip-off of Lunar Lander, but features bad controls and annoying music. I know this was meant to be an in-game joke since it was supposed to be made by a terrible video game company, but tedium is not satire. To top it all off, beating the game, or even playing it, isn't necessary to beat SQ3, and the "clue" you get from finishing it doesn't really help you either. Someone without any knowledge of the game could easily beat it without ever even going to Monolith Burger!
All regions and releases use this art painted by John Shaw with only minor variations on the layout. It depicts Roger Wilco blasting away from a fleet of pirate spaceships while eating a Monolith Burger. It certainly gets across the point of a humorous sci-fi game.
Two demos of Space Quest III were made by Sierra. One is non-playable and shows the game's introduction and a couple scenes from the game, the other is a playable game of Astro Chicken. This archive has both demos, and the Windows installer of the game demo.
|Writing, Game Design, Art, Pixel Art||Mark Crowe, Scott Murphy|
|Programming||Ken Koch, Scott Murphy, Doug Oldfield, Christopher Smith, Mark Crowe|
|SCI Engine||Pablo Ghenis, Stuart Goldstein, Robert Eric Heitman, Jeff Stephenson|
|Audio Engine||Stuart Goldstein|
|Sound Effects||Mark Seibert|
|Box Art||John Shaw|