Space Quest II

Author: Keith Campbell
Publisher: Sierra
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Computer & Video Games #91

Space Quest 2

Amiga versions of Sierra's 3D animated adventures are usually released quite some time after both PC and ST versions. Recently released is Amiga Space Quest 2, already around for some time on the other formats.

Loosely a follow-on from Space Quest 1, you have now been promoted to chief janitor aboard the space station Xenon 4 (shades of Planetfall). After a somewhat cinematic opening, the game itself starts off with you sweeping the station decks - clearing the space dust, I suppose. Soon, your wrist TV communicator starts to beep, and you are ordered to report for special duty.

As you move towards the airlock door, Sierra's animation shows off a little, by allowing your character to walk on walls and ceilings (being in a zero gravity environment) cleverly changing the perspective view of him as he moves from plane to plane through right angles.

Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge

Assigned the sickly task of cleaning up a space shuttle after a particularly rough trip, you make your way there, only to get mugged. You regain consciousness in the presence of the evil Sludge Vorhaul. Peeved at you thwarting his plans in Space Quest (you did, I take it?) he announces you are condemned to hard labour in the mines for the rest of your life, whilst he, Sludge, will conquer the earth by infesting it with thousands of genetically engineered door-to-door salesmen.

With that you are transported to the planet on which you are doomed to spend the rest of your days. Unfortunately for Sludge's guards, the hover-platform on which you are being taken to the mines run out of fuel in mid-hover - and it very soon ceases to be one! Being the sole survivor of the inevitable impact, you find yourself alone in a forest clearing. Or was that a pair of eyes you saw peering over that hedge just then?

Now is your chance to escape! But as if the problems of battling with a very sensitive root-monster in an arcade-like don't-tread-on-the-lines maze, dodging swamp monsters, and crossing the odd chasm here and there aren't enough, you also have to content with Vorhaul's men flying around searching for you. Seems there was an automatic 'Mayday' signal transmitted when you crashed - and if big V's lot spot you, you can forget anything as pleasant as working in a mine - it's Zappo!

Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge

Whilst the problems are not mind-boggling, some of them are extremely obscure. That in itself would be OK if there were sufficient cryptic hints in the text to gently edge the player in the right direction.

Here's an example of what I mean. Having reached a dark cave system, and suffered a few painful deaths whilst attempt to negotiate it, i decided I could really do with a good old fashioned brass lantern. I therefore cheated, courtesy of a C&VG reader who had sent in a few clues, and discovered that what I needed was a gem. Now the reader in question had obviously not thought the whereabouts of the said gem to be a problem, for its location was not mentioned. So I started back at square one, meticulously opening everything openable, and examining everything examinable. Still no sigh of a gem.

The trouble is, the game's vocabulary is rather limited, and the replies are not designed to give that little bit of help and encouragement by hinting when you're on the right track. Still languishing in the dark, my suspicions focus on an apparently empty mailbox, whose tray I cannot visualise, and a growth of killer mushrooms, that appears to be nothing more sinister than a booby trap. But I can't do a thing with them.

All this searching and sweating is not helped by the frailty of the program, which has the propensity to lock up without warning when your character attempts to cross certain screen boundaries. I assume this bug to be specific to the Amiga version rather than to the game itself, for although I have not played Space Quest 2 on ST or PC, I have not found any previous ST games from Sierra to suffer a similar problem.

All in all, this rather spoils what is, mostly, an interesting and exciting adventure. Or it would be if I could find that @*$%** gem!

Keith Campbell

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