Lamentations about a sadly underappreciated form of geekery.

Over this past month, I’ve made a few long-overdue geek purchases. These included the second season of “The Simpsons” (two down, sixteen to go) and the complete “Clerks” animated series. Perhaps the most important one, however, was the Space Quest Collection, purchased for twenty bucks at GameStop.

Space Quest is, of course, one of Sierra’s best-known adventure game franchises, and with good reason. The games are loaded with plenty of humor, puzzles ranging from the amusingly simple to the frustratingly (but hilariously) difficult, parodies of and references to everything from Sci-Fi movies to other adventure games by Sierra (and its competitors), and, naturally, the classic high-dreaming-but-underachieving everyman hero, who unwittingly finds adventure thrust upon him time and time again.

While the games themselves are immensely enjoyable, the collection itself, much like the King’s Quest package I had previously purchased which was released at the same time, shows very little effort or care. First of all, the sets just have the games, and no additional features. That’s not a huge deal, since the point of the set is to buy the games, but it would’ve been nice to have at least one or two extras, like the interviews with Ken and Roberta that the King’s Quest 15th Anniversary set from the early nineties had. Second of all, it only includes the DOS versions of the games with a copy of DOSBox thrown in for compatibility. Sure, for the early games, when DOS was the only thing available, that’s not a problem, but some of the later games, such as King’s Quest VI, had slightly better graphics in the Windows version. Again, not a huge deal, but still a slight disappointment.

Third (and probably actually the most insulting), the sets only include the VGA remakes of the first game in each series, not the original. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t even bother to include the original low-graphics text parser games in these collections. My only theory is that they thought these games wouldn’t appeal to as wide an audience, but after they complete the remake of game one in each series, they’re gonna move right on to the original of game two, in all of its AGI glory. Would it have been that hard to include the games that launched these franchises in the first place?

Fourth, and perhaps not a major deal, but certainly a strong indication of the lack of effort that went into these sets: there is no printed manual booklet in the box with these games. Instead, we get a PDF that is merely a scan of the manual from the previous collection of each series.

That’s right. They couldn’t bother to make a freaking manual for each of these collections, they had to recycle the old ones.

Sure, all the information is there (including the all-important “getting past the copy protection” info), but it’s still insulting. (It’s worst of all for the Space Quest collection, where there was no previous collection that included all the games, so they included the manuals for 1-5 from the previous collection, and then a scan for the original manual of 6 thrown on in the end.) I realize that Vivendi Universal doesn’t really see a wide market for old adventure games. I’m sure they just threw these collections in an afternoon to make a quick buck and to shut up the few fans who were crying out for a new set. They didn’t really think anybody would really care, they just figured it’d appease two or three old farts who wander into GameStop.

But take a look at, say, Adventure Game Studio, and all the incredible games people have made for it. Look at all the fan projects that King’s Quest alone has spawned, from AGDI’s remakes, to Infamous Adventures’ remake, to the highly-anticipated upcoming Silver Lining. Isn’t it obvious that adventure games have a passionate audience? Shouldn’t said audience be treated with respect? Shouldn’t LucasArts be working on another Monkey Island game (WITH Ron Gilbert, to make sure it doesn’t suck) instead of ten million expanded universe variations of Lego Star Wars? While we’re at it, can we also get another non-sucky King’s Quest installment and pretend that “Mask of Eternity” never happened?

I’m glad that these collections I’ve bought at GameStop exist, and I hope they somehow draw new people in to the wonderful world of adventure gaming. I just wish the guys in charge cared half as much as the fans do.

Leave a Reply