Unlike other entries in the Space Quest series, the main character is not Roger Wilco … well, not exactly. You get to enter your name before the game begins and that’s the name that will be used throughout. I really like this type of personalization as it makes for a far more immersive experience.
Since you’re still a master of the custodial arts, the game starts off with you sweeping the deck of Xenon Orbital Station 4, where you’ve the head janitor. The villain from the first game, Sludge Vohaul is out for revenge and captures you and ships you off to the Labion labour mines. Along the way you learn about Sludge Vohaul’s plan to eradicate sentient life from Xenon by launching millions of cloned insurance salesmen at the planet.
The Space Quest series does not take itself seriously, and this game is filled with puns and jokes. The writing is excellent and the descriptions of most things you can interact with are pretty funny. I found myself taking a little longer than usual looking around the various scenes to see what I could interact with and read about as a result.
As with most (all?) Sierra On-Line games you could very easily die on just about every screen. I was playing this game on ScummVM on a MacBook so I didn’t have a numpad, which meant I didn’t have extended directional control. If you wanted to go up or down stairs you had to drop the speed to slow, then alternate between up/down and left/right (depending on where you’re going).
This was particularly annoying at the very end of the game where you have to climb the stairs after beating Sludge Vohaul, and you have almost zero margin for error. I forgot to save for a while leading up to this point and fell and died after a couple steps …
Basically everything you do in this game requires you to pick stuff up and use it later … and you can miss things and end up stuck. Unlike the first game, to make this even more complicated if you figure out the right item to use to get out of a certain situation, you may also have to choose the right timing or you’ll still end up dead.
For example, if you think to stick the plunger to the wall to avoid drowning in a pool of acid, if you stick the plunger too early you’ll lose your grip and still fall to your death. Fun times :P
Some of these early AGI games rely a little too heavily on making you navigate mazes. Getting the berries on Labion is a pain in the ass as you have to be extremely precise so as not to touch the vines (or you die), so you end up having to just drop the game speed to slow and take a few steps/save/repeat. This isn’t fun - just tedious busy work.
Space Quest I had a couple of mini games in it (the slot machine and the speeder), which mixed up the game play a bit. Space Quest II has a sequence where you have to time the release of a vine so as not to get eaten, but that’s about it. The rest of the game is what you’d expect from a text-parser driven adventure game.
Visually this is an improvement over the original game, but not by all that much. The AGI engine is very limited, but Sierra’s artists knew how to get the most bang for their (and your) buck out of it. There are a couple of cut scenes and close ups, but mostly you just move your stick figure around and type in commands that paint a picture in your mind using words.
I really liked Space Quest I, so I’m harder on the sequel as I didn’t find it added much to the original. It wasn’t as much fun to play, though it was extremely well written. I found some sequences (like escaping Labion in the shuttle) frustrating, but overall this was an ok game.
Infamous Adventures did a VGA remake of this game in 2018, but I never gave it a spin. Honestly this looks extremely well done - as does their remake of King’s Quest III - so if you’re looking to play this game it may be worth starting there.
|Police Quest II: The Vengeance
|November 14, 1987
|DOS, Macintosh, Apple II, Apple IIGS, Amiga, Atari ST
See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.