By John Walker on July 24th, 2009 at 10:50 am.
I’m stuck at this point. The problem is this: for years and years we had to suffer every mention of an adventure game being accompanied by a phrase somehow relating to adventure games being dead. I mean, I wrote them myself when I was young and stupid. They would go, “The adventure game may be dead, but here’s one last gasp,” or more optimistically, “The adventure game’s not dead, but in a coma,” or whatever. The idiocy of these comments was the frequency. Here’s what happened: adventure games, in their abundance, weren’t very good any more. Apart from the good ones. The point of all this is to say how much I want to respond to the news, that following LucasArts’ releasing classic adventure games on Steam, Activision-Blizzard are putting some classic Sierra adventure games on the download service, by writing, “Adventure games may be dead, but their ghosts are coming back to haunt us.” But I cannot, because I’d be One Of Them. So I won’t.
Hidden amongst that drivel you may have noticed the glimmer of news. Activision have decided to parry LucasArts’ (Oh God, is this going to be a Monkey Island insult fighting reference? Oh please say it isn’t – A Reader) cunning move rejuvenating love and attention when re-releasing some favourite adventure games by doing the same. (Phew, that was close. Although not close to grammar – A Reader).
Today they’ve added (along with Aces of the Galaxy, TimeShift and 3D Ultra Minigolf Adventures) the Space Quest and King’s Quest Collection packs. Which is a mixed collection.
My memories of King’s Quest games are an awful lot better than King’s Quest games. The rule tends to be, the earlier the better. But there’s some odd decisions made in this particular box, for instance pretending that King’s Quest VIII didn’t happen, but far stranger, using the pre-VGA versions of games that had since received VGA updates. Anyhow, if you want some super-twee fairytale adventuring, there’s your choice.
Far more interesting, however, is the Space Quest Collection. These are the adventures of hapless space janitor Roger Wilco. The first couple of games are criminally short, but for me the box is all about Space Quest IV. I have a theory that when people start getting dizzy with excitement about LucasArts’ games from 90 to 92, they’re accidentally remembering a lot of what Sierra were doing in that mix. The game packed with details, hundreds of hidden jokes by combining objects incorrectly, and so on – that’s Space Quest IV. It’s astonishing. The volume of gags in that game is just remarkable, with lines written, for instance, for using the mouth icon on just about everything you encounter. It’s also a game that does some wonderful frame-breaking gags, none more smart than travelling back in time to Space Quest I, and its CGA graphics. I have a lot to say about this game, and I will say it somewhere soon. In the meantime, I strongly suggest investing in this pack and checking out what I believe to be one of the most important adventure games ever.