Although I would prefer not to describe myself as gullible, I do have a little self-esteem left, I would willingly accept that I am an avid consumer. However, years of playing computer games has taught me the ability to spot a really bad game a mile off, however well it is diguised.
Space Quest is just such a game. Looking at the lavish packaging you would immediately think that the game was everything you had ever dreamed of in an arcade-adventure for the Amiga. Delve a little further, however, and this dream will turn into a nightmare. When I was first given the game, a quick scan of the back of the box, generally a good way of gleaning info, revealed that Space Quest was an arcade adventure with (to quote the bumph) "Out of this world three-dimensional graphics". The game starts with a pretty poor opening sequence, especially compared to the likes of the Karate Kid II (reviewed elsewhere in this issue), and gets even worse.
You take on the role of Roger Wilco and you must attempt to sort out the obvious mess in which the ship you are on seems to be. A little more reading of the manual will reveal that a group of baddies, the Sariens, are trying to capture the all-important Space Generator, and that you, Roger Wilco, are the only man who can render the Generator useless and thereby save the entire universe.
The graphics have to be seen to be believed. With backgrounds reminiscent of early Vic20 games in their lack of resolution and imagination, it would take a painfully naive man to believe the quotes on the back of the packaging were written in good faith. Nor are the characters any better. I was struck by the resemblance to early Ultimate Play the Game arcade adventures on the Commodore 64, with each leg drawn from three pixels, the middle one supposedly representing a knee!
Although I am not sure, it seems likely that the American company that produces this game, Sierra On-Line (or plain Sierra as they now seem to be known) have ported Space Quest from a machine such as the Commodore 64 and done little, if anything, to upgrade it to the Amiga. Even the animation is poor, with screen flicker and jerk frequently evident.
Perhaps not surprisingly, judging by the rest of the game, the sound is also very poor. Small spot effects, which amount to little more than occasional squeaks and bangs, and a dreadful tune to start is not really up to scratch, especially when compared to the fabulous tunes that accompany Starglider.
Another incredibly annoying thing about Space Quest is the continual disk access that seems to be necessary. As everyone who uses the Amiga knows, the disk drives are hardly fast in normal use, but somehow Sierra have managed to slow them down even more, to the extent that each time you move from one location to another within the game, you must sit through a good 30 seconds of grinding and banging as the disk searches for information. Control of Roger Wilco is by mouse, joystick or keyboard, but the real problem is the speed at which he moves. Sloths are more agile! Even if you map the game, it is also too easy to get bored to sleep before you can ever find somewhere new. Not even the fact that the game is the first on the Amiga in which the actions of your man are dependent both on joystick and text input makes any difference, this game's dullness runs very, very deep.