Fourth of Five

4. Space Quest


In 1986 there was a chain of stores called Egghead Software. Boxes the size of dictionaries contained fistfuls of floppy discs that held the code for games that today could be played on a cell phone. A cell phone that had been dropped through a washing machine and been picked up by an electromagnet. It was a primitive era but there were at least four colors on the screen at one time and in that era such prismatic bounty was mind-blowing for a home computer game.


Sierra ruled the PC gaming world through Adventure Games. King’s Quest, Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, et al. Not quite RPGs, not at all side-scroller action games, Adventure Games involved collecting random items and using them in bizarre ways to make progress. Often these items would languish in your inventory for days before a use for them was found. Most nefariously, failure to use an item might not have blocked your progress but would cause major problems or even death later in the game.


Need to get past the laser grid? I hope you picked up the view shield glass from the spaceship crash. Want to get past the leprechaun guards? You’d better know how to play the fiddle you found in the woodcutter’s house. And if Larry is to avoid dying of a social disease his player must remember to make him use a condom with that escort (Seriously. If you didn’t wrap it Larry would wither and die several hours later. Be safe).


My friend Erik and I finagled my mom into buying Space Quest from Egghead on a Saturday afternoon. At two in the morning I gave up trying to get past Orat, the lizard beast. At four in the morning Erik woke me up to reveal that throwing the dehydrated water at the creature would make him blow up, clearing the way. By Sunday evening we still hadn’t gone back to sleep.


That was my first all-night gaming experience, often repeated in the years to come. And like my first girlfriend (Shannon? Anna?…hmmm…) I’ll never forget it.


I pine for new Quest-style games. They were odd-ball intellectual entertainment, puzzle solving with a twisted, Monty Python-esque logic that suited me. When I heard there was a new Leisure Suit Larry game coming out in 2004 I nearly wept with joy and cried hosannas to the Sierra gods. Unfortunately it wasn’t a quest game, just a bunch of twitch mini-games. I would have been crushed but for the fact that it is one of the most involved, funny, and amazingly well-written scripts ever created for a video game. The sheer volume of story and dialogue is staggering. But you didn’t collect debris in hopes that it would come in handy later.


Anyway. Space Quest. Totally rad.


And if you want to experience the fun of an adventure game, check out Peasant’s Quest. These guys created a nearly perfect Sierra Adv. Game satire.


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