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Old 12-12-2010, 10:25 AM   #21
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Default Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge (1987)



Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge (1987)

The entire existence of Space Quest II almost seems like an apology for not including a real villain in Space Quest I. In fact, Vohaul’s existence isn’t even hinted at, nor is his brother shown to be anything other than a name in the first game. Space Quest II certainly does add some needed expository scenes to the series, but what is exposited is fairly generic plotting that also lacks in effective parody. We are left with the unseasoned meat and potatoes of the genre.

Space Quest II is the last entry of a major Sierra series to use the AGI engine, and as much as it shows the engine at its most refined, it also shows its limitation. The graphics are among the most pleasant of any AGI game (well except for the boring corridors of the asteroid). The Labion jungle scenes are particularly good looking. The game contains some nice Larry-style close-ups as well.

The other major advantage the sequel has over the original is in puzzle design. The few puzzles that take advantage of the parser are among the best of the AGI era (see spoilers in Additional Notes for examples). There are perhaps even more deaths here than in the previous game, but dead ends are mostly eliminated. Space Quest II was the hardest Sierra game up to this point for me. Length is about the same as its predecessor. I felt like there should have been more locations.

Despite its improvements, Space Quest II seems a little bland, as was the first one. I’m not sure which I really prefer. The second one has better atmosphere and puzzle design, but the first one has a bit more character.

Additional Notes

Hardest puzzle:
Spoiler:
Finding the underwater cavern—I never even thought to look for such a thing.

Dead ends:
Spoiler:
Not getting the gem before entering the cave.

Best part:
Spoiler:
*Take deep breath—I believe you actually have to specify “deep.”
*Put gem in mouth—Outside the box for an adventure game, but very intuitive in real life. I recently explored a cave, and when I needed my hands for climbing, the flashlight went right in my mouth.
*Say the word—Makes you disregard the idiom and take the sentence literally.

Worst part:
Spoiler:
Having to run through all those corridors at the end.

My final score: 212/250
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Old 01-08-2011, 02:02 PM   #22
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Default King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (1988)



King’s Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella (1988)

King’s Quest IV marks the next evolution in Sierra adventures. The pixel count has been upped and, for the first time, sound cards are supported. The game is also significantly longer than its predecessors. These enhancements offer new possibilities for the genre. However, King’s Quest IV fails to use them to their full potential.

The game takes an intriguing twist in allowing the player to take on the role of a female. The story starts with a long cut scene, quite different from the previous games. I found the scene overly sentimental, however, and other missteps follow. The game takes quite an odd structure. You are given these little tasks without much of a clue as to how they are to be solved. You have to do things for people with no indication as to what it might accomplish. And then they give you something which you have to give to someone else for no apparent reason other than that this new person could have something that you might need. The game abounds with such absurd adventureisms that are ripe for parody. I’ve forgiven the series for the stairs of death up to this point, but now it’s getting rather bothersome. In fact, climbing steps is harder in King’s Quest IV than it was with its predecessors. One puzzle in particular takes this idea to new extremes of tedium.

The enhanced sound does lend something to the atmosphere of the game. There are several parts that are pretty creepy, which is helped even more when the game switches from day to night. One annoying thing, though, is that the sound stops every time you start to type something. The game also pauses, which took some getting used to after learning to type-in commands before you finished walking in previous games. I also preferred having the command line at the bottom rather than blocking the middle of the screen.

It's interesting to see all of the technical improvements that King's Quest IV brings. But with increased ability comes increased responsibility. It is with this game that all of the charming flaws of the series start becoming just flaws.

Additional Notes

Hardest puzzle:
Spoiler:
*Swimming is actually used for something in this one?
*Waiting for cupid to appear
*Seeing the gold ball, bridle, and bones are difficult (why can you only take those bones and not the ones in the whale’s mouth or Lolotte’s dungeon?)

Dead ends:
Spoiler:
*Entering the whale before getting the feather
*Leaving the island without getting the bridle

Best part:
Spoiler:
Exploring the old mansion

Worst part:
Spoiler:
Climbing the whale’s tongue

My final score (in the game): 226/230
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Old 01-09-2011, 05:44 PM   #23
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Ahhhhhhh the memories.
Has anyone tried "Laura Bow's - The Colonel's Bequest"
Thats another early sierra adventure which I vaguely remember it being set in a big old mansion...
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Old 01-09-2011, 06:26 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weare6 View Post
Ahhhhhhh the memories.
Has anyone tried "Laura Bow's - The Colonel's Bequest"
Thats another early sierra adventure which I vaguely remember it being set in a big old mansion...
Looking forward to Lagomorph´s reviews of the Laura Bow games

I personally liked them.
Especially the first has a very dense atmosphere (at least back in the early 90´s when I played them)
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Old 03-26-2011, 11:00 PM   #25
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Great thread! I'm really hoping it will be continued, really looking forwards to reading more reviews of Sierra classics.

Very interesting and entertaining to read, and I find that I agree with a lot of is said (I do seem to like both the first SQ games quite a bit better than the reviewer here, though).
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:00 PM   #26
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Keep 'em coming...
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Old 04-09-2011, 11:25 AM   #27
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Default Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) (1988)



Leisure Suit Larry Goes Looking for Love (in Several Wrong Places) (1988)

Though the second SCI game, Larry 2 deserves the credit for taking Sierra games to the next level. Whereas King’s Quest IV hesitantly carried with it all of its antiquated baggage, Larry 2 leaps to new terrain with confidence.

While Larry 2 departs from the series-defining goals of the first game and adopts a more conventional and tamed-down plot, the sophistication of the writing elevates it above the original. Dropping Larry into a more standard adventure is really a rather clever approach. The game plays up the difference between the player and the player character in an intriguing manner. You are privileged to knowledge that Larry doesn’t have. The conflict derives from the disparity between these two perspectives. While having to die to figure out a puzzle is generally frowned upon in adventure game theory, here it brings humor to the relation between the player and the character.

The game also plays with aspects of the first game and with Sierra conventions in general. For example, in the first game money was a big concern. You had to constantly work the casino to maintain funds. Here, however, the concern is reversed to a ridiculous extreme. Early on, Larry wins a million dollars without hardly having to do anything. The challenge becomes how to get less money, as Larry’s bills are too large. The negative consequence of sleeping with girls also presents a reversal from the previous game. In another scene, the classic Sierra cliff walk is encountered, except you can’t actually fall off (anticipating the later parody in The Secret of Monkey Island). However, it subjects you to another typical Sierra challenge:
Spoiler:
You will almost inevitably hit a dead end after completing the section.

The artwork is a step up from King’s Quest IV, with a lot of detail and variety of locations. The music is also quite good (I particularly like the love theme). The sections of the game are arranged in a linear manner, resulting in many dead ends (the most I’ve seen in a Sierra game thus far). It is one of the longer and harder Sierra games I’ve played. It also feels like it has more depth in regards to various responses given and the overall large number of text.

Larry 2 really is a step forward for Sierra. For the first time, a Sierra game begins to match the depth and humor offered by the LucasArts games I grew up with.

Additional Notes

Hardest puzzle:
Spoiler:
Getting breasts. There’s little indication that you need to stuff the bra in the changing area.

Dead ends encountered:

Six, at least.
Spoiler:
*Pulling switch too early.
*Left before getting drink.
*Changed too late (an intentional dead end).
*Not picking up the pamphlet.
*Not getting the pin (if you type in the wrong thing, it says “there’s nothing worth buying here”); the puzzle also plays with the “fault” of having to die to figure out a puzzle.
*Not getting the sand.

Best part:
Spoiler:
*Game show sequence
*Breaking the million dollar bill

Worst part:
Spoiler:
Throwing sand on ice? That doesn’t make much sense.

My final score: 496/500
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Old 04-09-2011, 07:33 PM   #28
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EDIT - sprry for writing such a long and rambling post, I tend to do that sometimes... so if you read it before I removed it, sorry about that.

All I really wanted to say is - thanks for continuing this awesome thread, your reviews are a joy to read!

Last edited by laffer; 04-09-2011 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:56 AM   #29
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I'm glad you've enjoyed the reviews. I'd welcome any thoughts by others, even if rambling.
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Old 04-10-2011, 12:24 PM   #30
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Somehow I lost track of this thread after posting in November, never even read your reply until now. Enjoyed reading your take on KQ4: The Perils of Rosella even if you didn't enjoy it as much as I did.
One thing about playing this game for me was that it was the first time I had a choice to use keyboard or mouse and I recall thinking when I tried the mouse, "This will never catch on!" Of course, I was totally wrong about that, wasn't I?
I'll try to stay tuned in this time to see the rest of your reviews. They are really great and revive so many fond memories of the those early days. It was a hectic time back then when new changes were coming along almost faster than one could keep up, almost. Considering adventure games began with text only: "You are standing in front of a house with a mailbox!" Even that was considered amazing back then when my husband bought our first computer.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:20 PM   #31
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I found it easier just to stick with the keyboard for KQIV and Larry 2. It will be interesting to see what Sierra does with a true point-and-click interface as that's the way I first played adventure games.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:34 PM   #32
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Hi, Lagomorph:

Great thread (I have bookmarked it) and reviews. I grew up with adventures from both companies, Lucas and Sierra (I played Larry 1 and Maniac Mansion at the same time), so I don't have a preference for any one of them. I rather think they both have great games, ok games and bad games (well, maybe Lucas Arts doesn't have any bad games, but that's because -I think- they don't experiment as much with the genre as Sierra).

What I value the most about your comments is they attempt to be fair about the games without indulging in a nostalgic point of view, which would imply an exaggeration of the positive side, or criticizing them from a "Lucas games fan" point of view, that is, demanding the games to be just as Lucas´ ones (without deaths and dead ends).

In general, I share your opinions. For example, just as you, I find King's Quest 2 to be better than 1 and 3 better than 2, but I felt 4 to be not that good as 3. Regarding Larry games, if you liked the relation established between the player and Larry, you´ll find Larry 6 and 7 are specially great in this respect.

I can´t wait for the new reviews (I hope in the future you can comment Police Quest and Quest for Glory games; this last series is specially good, leaving aside the fifth game).
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:46 AM   #33
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On your "hardest puzzle" for LSL2:

Spoiler:
You are always told what the reason is for the soldiers not believing that you are a woman. If you haven't stuffed the bra, they say you are flat-chested, so the solution becomes obvious.

Incidentally, I would call all the trial-and-errors related to that puzzle "dead ends" (although it's been 8 years or so since I played it), but maybe you're considering them "deaths"? Same with the deaths on the lifeboat.


Very inspiring thread. I might have to start one for games that are new to me as well.
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Old 04-11-2011, 04:23 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belano View Post
Hi, Lagomorph:

Great thread (I have bookmarked it) and reviews. I grew up with adventures from both companies, Lucas and Sierra (I played Larry 1 and Maniac Mansion at the same time), so I don't have a preference for any one of them. I rather think they both have great games, ok games and bad games (well, maybe Lucas Arts doesn't have any bad games, but that's because -I think- they don't experiment as much with the genre as Sierra)...
Yeah, I like how Sierra and Lucas Arts have a different set of rules. Both offer unique opportunities for creativity. For example, Sierra will go to hilarious extremes to kill you in the most mundane of situations (toilet in Larry 1), whereas Lucas Arts will go to hilarious extremes to save you in the most dangerous of situations (cliff in Monkey Island 1).

I definitely plan on getting to Police Quest and Quest for Glory sooner or later.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Venkman View Post
On your "hardest puzzle" for LSL2:

Spoiler:
You are always told what the reason is for the soldiers not believing that you are a woman. If you haven't stuffed the bra, they say you are flat-chested, so the solution becomes obvious.

Incidentally, I would call all the trial-and-errors related to that puzzle "dead ends" (although it's been 8 years or so since I played it), but maybe you're considering them "deaths"? Same with the deaths on the lifeboat.
Spoiler:
Stuffing the bra was my first thought, but when you try stuffing it when you're not in the changing area, it just gives you a generic response telling you that you can't do that. If it had responded with "not here" like it did with the clothes themselves, then I would have found the puzzle much easier.

Yeah, I was thinking of those as deaths. Although the lifeboat sequence is so long that it might qualify. I found it hilarious that taking the spinach dip ends up killing you.
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Old 04-12-2011, 11:07 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lagomorph View Post
Yeah, I like how Sierra and Lucas Arts have a different set of rules. Both offer unique opportunities for creativity. For example, Sierra will go to hilarious extremes to kill you in the most mundane of situations (toilet in Larry 1), whereas Lucas Arts will go to hilarious extremes to save you in the most dangerous of situations (cliff in Monkey Island 1).
You picked some great examples there to illustrate your point, those are two moments from classic adventure games I find the most memorable... things that always come to mind when thinking about these games

I love little jabs at competing companies in games, like the rubber tree situation from MI1 you brought up... developers seemed to have more fun while developing games back then, not taking themselves too seriously to have a little fun like that.
One of the things I miss.
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Old 04-14-2011, 06:47 AM   #36
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v.cool thread
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Old 04-17-2011, 12:41 PM   #37
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Default Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (1989)



Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (1989)

The first thing one notices upon starting Space Quest III is the new theme music. Gone is the heroic PC speaker anthem of the first two. In its place, we find an upbeat melody that oddly carries with it a melancholic nostalgia for the 80’s. Beginning the game is like opening a time capsule and realizing that the essence of its contents could never be replicated again. It seems appropriate to begin in a mode of time travel on the meta-game level, for the game is both sci-fi and self-referential.

Space Quest III immerses you in a canvas of vibrant, detailed visuals. From the first scene, the graphics top any Sierra game that came before it. The numerous sci-fi references among the junk form an interesting metaphor—Roger must escape the remains of his inspirations to form his own unique destiny. He must write his own game (a theme revisited in the game’s conclusion). The world is laid out in a spatially interesting way. Not only do you exit screens by going left and right, but also up and down—aboard such unusual landscapes as conveyor belts and giant robot necks. Gone are the two-dimensional side-scrolling screens of the first two games. For the first time, we are also given the opportunity for nonlinear interplanetary travel. This helps heighten the games sense of exploration—it’s a true space adventure now.

However, the puzzles and plot often do not respond as well to this newfound sense of freedom. On board the junk freighter, I ended up solving the puzzles in reverse order. I had all of the parts to fix the ship before I was able to get into to the ship to know that it was broken. You’re not required to play Astro Chicken, but if you don’t, the plot won’t make sense. This happened to me just because I decided to explore the locations in a different order than the game expected me to (I soon realized I was missing something and went back to play it before proceeding further).

The plot is pretty fun though. This might be the first adventure game where the designers put themselves into the game. I like reading stories about the old Sierra development team and find it fascinating how they had their headquarters out in a small town among the California wilderness. It was neat to see the mythology of the game meet the mythology of the game makers. I believe Space Quest III is also the first Sierra game to reference LucasArts. It’s interesting to note that LucasArts had achieved archrival status after having released only two games. In its structure and self-aware humor, Space Quest III even resembles LucasArts’s later Monkey Island 2. They both also feature gutsy endings capable of alienating fans. But such a comparison serves to highlight The Pirates of Pestulon’s flaws as much as anything. In addition to the structural flaws mentioned earlier, Space Quest III feels much too short. The junk freighter seems to be only an intro sequence at first, but then you find out it’s almost half the game (and the harder half too!). Ironically, the game tries to trick you into thinking it is going to end even earlier than it does. Nevertheless, Space Quest III shines in its atmosphere and is probably the best of the series thus far. But word on the street is that the next game tops all other Space Quests. We shall see.

Additional Notes

Hardest puzzle:
Spoiler:
Getting the ladder. I just never thought about picking up something that big.

Dead ends encountered:

None

Best part:
Spoiler:
Killing the Arnoid.

Worst part:
Spoiler:
The “3D” corridor section—it was just annoying to navigate.

My final score: 718/738
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Old 04-17-2011, 01:20 PM   #38
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Cool review, keep em coming

I disagree about the "word on the street" though. In my opinion the best Space Quests are 3 and 5. 4 is okay, but not as good.
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Old 04-17-2011, 02:13 PM   #39
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Actually, a poll on this site has the fifth game as the best by a wide margin, so maybe I'm wrong. I was under the impression that Space Quest IV was the fan favorite though. It is the last to have been designed by both of the Two Guys.
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Old 04-18-2011, 08:59 PM   #40
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Interesting thread, I'm not sure how I missed it up to now. It is always fun to see new people discovering the games that many of us have cherished for years, even decades in some cases, now. Someone earlier in the thread mentioned about the speed bug in KQ7. This is easily avoided by playing the DOS version in DOSBox. The problem is that most of the releases did not come with a DOS interpreter. Most of the he stand alone releases were version 1.4 and 1.56, which included no DOS interpreter. The first collection only came with a demo of KQ7. The 2nd collection, The King's Quest Collection Series, came with KQ7 v2.00b, which had the DOS interpreter. The 2006 VU collection used v 1.4, which as stated earlier, had no DOS interpreter.

I have a number of modern installers and patches for most of the Sierra games, including the KQ series that can upgrade versions 1.4 and 1.56 to 2.00b and automatically set it up to run in DOSBox.

http://sierrahelp.com/Patches-Update...allers.html#KQ

For the 2006 VU collections and the Steam version, I have patches to fix the many problems with these releases, including upgrading KQ71.4 to 2.00b

http://sierrahelp.com/Patches-Update...xUpdaters.html

I hope these will help you in your quest.
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