Space Quest 2 logo

Activision/Sierra On-Line
Amiga: £24.99

As Roger Wilco, ace janitor aboard the Xenon Orbital Station 4, you are ordered to the shuttle bay to clear up a newly-arrived craft following a serious case of space sickness. Once aboard, you are mugged by a couple of interstellar ruffians, and carted away. So begins the second in the Space Quest series.

You awake to find yourself in the clutches of the evil Sludge Vohaul, who is angry with you for ruining his Sarien operation (see Space Quest 1). Condemning you to a lifetime in his mines, he boasts that he is about to take revenge on the Earth. 'I have a plan so horrible, so frightening, so diabolical, that no-one will be able to stop me!' he boasts, and proceeds to explain how he intends to infest the Earth with thousands of genetically engineered door-to-door life insurance salesmen. With that, you are carted off to a nearby planet, and under armed guard, taken for a ride on a hover-platform to the mines.

Unfortunately for Vohaul, things do not quite work out quite as he expected. En route, the platform runs out of fuel, and before the argument between the guards over whose turn it was to refuel it is resolved, you have plummeted to the ground. Luckily, you are the sole survivor of the crash, one of the guards having broken your fall. Now is your chance to prevent Vohaul from implementing his deadly plan. But first you have to evade the search party that comes after you, and deal with such hostile phenomena as man-eating mushrooms, monster-infested swamps, and all sorts of beastly things, including a hunter who rather fancies you - spit roasted!

Your character can be controlled through the joystick, mouse, or cursor keys. I found the cursor keys to be more accurate, especially when negotiating tight passages.

A speed control allows the character one of four different speeds, and slow is often the most useful, for the planet is not without its unexpected tight corners, which make the gameplay almost arcade-like. One of these occurs early one, when you meet up with sensitive tendrils draped over the ground. Tread on one and it will cocoon you in no time. A careful study of the tendrils will reveal that there is a clear if perilous path through, which in turn suggests that you must now travel though it.

But were there more than a couple of bugs in the program, or was my copy faulty? To the back of the clearing where the hovercraft crashed, for example, I went exploring behind a large tree, and then decided to walk out of the back of the picture. For a while nothing happened, until the Guru showed up meditating, and I had to reload - Workbench and all. There were a number of other occasions where the computer locked-up altogether, freezing the current picture, when I had tried to use a marginal exit. However, with sufficient saved game positions, this should not altogether spoil the game, however annoying it might be.

I am only just about the get into the meaty bits, Guru permitting, and SQ2 is proving an exciting and often hilarious adventure. If you have not already played it, now it is the time, before the arrival of the next in the series, Space Quest - The Pirates of Pestulon due soon.

Space Quest 2 logo

Sierra/Activision, Amiga £19.99

Space - the final frontier. I'm a big fan of Star Trek, me, so anything to do with space and all that googly stuff gets me really excited. So - you remember Space Quest, don't you? Course you do. That was the time you, humble 'brain the size of a peanut' interplanetary janitor, managed to save your planet Xenon (now, where have I heard that before?) from certain death by Volhaul's secret Star Generator. Woo!

Volhaul sounds just like my kind of guy, actually. He's slimy, fat, purple (personally, I prefer green) and really, really gross. And he's got a plan. Unless you manage to blitz him in time, Xenon' going to be invaded by thousands of genetically engineered life-insurance salesmen synthetically designed to make the life of every single citizen a misery. Oh no!

Oh yeah. And if your skimmer hadn't crashed on the way to the labour camp Vohaul's picked out specially for you, you wouldn't be able to do anything at all about it. Luckily, if you're clever enough, you can make it through the planet Labion, back to Vohaul's asteroid fortress and try to STOP THE PLAN.

Zzap's Thing: 'Rockford never changes his underwear!'

Action's presented in typical Sierra style. You wander around the 3D environment using your joystick and typing in commands (to pick up objects and so on) just as in a normal text input adventure.
According to the back of the box, the graphics are in 'incredible 3-D'. Erm... Well - we all know what 3-D is and this isn't it. You can walk behind bushes and trees but they look more like a pile of spinach (yeuch - really hate the stuff) than a shrub. I know you can't have brilliant graphics if you want a decent amount of memory devoted to the gameplay but you don't need to have badly defined blobby sprites instead. You can see from Lucasfilm's Zak McKracken just how much detail you can cram into this type of game it takes just one look at blockland to see Sierra haven't done as much.

Yeah, yeah but what about the game itself? Well, I suppose it's OK if you like dying a lot. As for me, I'd rather spend the afternoon with a couple of tons of billy-goat spare ribs in Bar-B-Q sauce than spend an hour of so getting killed every time I find a new location. So what if you can save to disk! Looks to me like they just ran out of ideas for a more interesting storyline.

Personally, I did not go a bundle on this one but if you liked Space Quest, you will probably find something to enjoy in it. 3-D and movement is a fair bit faster than the original (though the controls are still a bit fiddly now and then) and the parser is adequate. If you can stay alive long enough, there's plenty of puzzles to solve, but once you've died 56 times in the first half hour, does anybody really care?

Zzap's Rockford: 'Splatford!'

Unless you are really into the Space Quest theme, take a long look at this before you fork out 20 quid. It may have nice presentation and a glossy box but when get right down to it, it's just... well, your average lizard's toenail sort of romp. And who wants that, when you can sell a few buckets of snot for an extra fiver and buy a nice, shiny copy of Lucasfilm's Zak McKracken instead?