Have You Played… Spaceship Warlock?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Space may be the final frontier, but it doesn’t have to be so serious. Back in the ’90s, space games were more than happy to poke fun at themselves, from the Muppet-like live-action puppeteering of Commander Blood to Sanctuary Woods’ light-hearted Orion Burger.

That’s why I’m in love with 1994’s Spaceship Warlock, a first-person adventure game that feels as far away from conventional space exploration games as anything ever could. It’s an odd mishmash of surrealism, space pirates, and the strangest characters you’ve seen this side of Harvester.

You’re not a pilot, or even a plucky young soldier. You’re just a normal “Terrie” stranded in the slums of Stambul City who eventually makes his way onto the luxury spaceship Belshazzar. It’s soon taken over by Captain Hammer, space pirate extraordinaire, and your new boss…if you want to live.

Spaceship Warlock is classic pulp sci-fi, riddled with camp straight out of the ’80s, ray guns, and a disposable romantic subplot with a woman whose hair looks like someone forgot to fill it in with MS Paint. It’s also otherworldly locales, praying mantis-like crewmen, and cheeseball FMV sequences that looked fantastic at the time.

If you’re looking to take up ‘90s space piracy, Spaceship Warlock is the way to go.

13 Comments

  1. Kestrel says:

    I played a ton of it as a kid. The voice acting and sound effects still stick with me. Especially the intro theme, which was almost operatic in its bombast. Also, I loved that the game let you roam about on your own spaceship. I spent the next two decades furious that this wasn’t common to every space game ever made.

  2. Bracknellexile says:

    Just for a moment there, seeing the image, I thought there was an Insketors game starring Drumsturdy and Greeb that I’d somehow missed years ago….

  3. Maxheadroom says:

    For probably the first time since this ‘Have you played’ series started, I have to answer – No (I can thank spending the majority of the 90s working behind the counter of a computer shop for that)

    Never even heard of that one though

  4. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    The intro theme song pops into my head at least two or three times a year, every year. Since 1994. It’s maddening.

  5. orborborb says:

    This actually came out in 1991 for the Macintosh, two years before The 7th Guest, The Journeyman Project, or Myst.

    • Brittany Vincent says:

      Yup! I didn’t have the chance to play it on Mac originally, though. Speaking of The Journeyman Project, that’s a series I’d love to revisit!

  6. rexx.sabotage says:

    Spaceships: Check!

    Warlocks: … ???

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      No, no, not warlocks… SPACESHIP warlocks.

      It also has regular, non-warlock spaceships, obviously.

  7. spiche says:

    Oh my god, this game! my brother friggin terrorized me with it as a little kid, the bombastic opening, the eerie and definitely-not-human aliens’ animation… I always remember it very fondly lol

  8. bennewhouse says:

    Loved this game. I remember there was this wonderful part near the end where you had to make a speech for some reason, and it was just free text, and the crowd would cheer or maybe boo depending on what you said. We figured out that no matter what you said, so long as you slipped in something about “captain hammer” the crowd would cheer.

  9. flojomojo says:

    This was one of the first CD-ROM games and ran on Macromedia Director. 1991 is correct, it was a Macintosh exclusive for many years before getting a Windows version. We were all into DOOM by 1994.

    The whole thing weighs 50MB and really should be redone as an interactive web page, or a little mobile app.

    • Brittany Vincent says:

      I just wanted to pop by and address the fact that yes, this was originally a Mac game and released in 1991 originally. I originally played the PC version and it is available on PC, so I focused on that for this blurb since RPS is PC-centric. I wish I had the opportunity to play it as soon as it had been released though!

      I think it should definitely be re-released! Wouldn’t that be awesome? More people would be able to get their hands on it, which would be rad.

      • flojomojo says:

        It’s totally abandonware, no one is making any money from it. I thought I read somewhere that Saenz and Sparks have had a falling out (kinda like Braben and Bell from “Elite”?) but it would indeed be “rad” as well as totally tubular to see this again, updated or not.