Lots of gameplay
Incredible amount of locations
INSANE octopus maze!
Since Sierra On-Line released the Space Quest series in 1986, a lot of fan-made SQ games have seen the light of day. Unfortunately, the majority of them have been rather short or below average in quality. However, there are exceptions, and Space Quest: The Lost Chapter is definitely one of those.
The long and interesting story, great gameplay and numerous neat locations (ranging from underwater civilisations to spaceships) of SQ:TLC will make it an instant hit for any SQ or old-school Sierra fan.
The game itself takes place in between Space Quest II and Space Quest III and begins with Roger Wilco floating aimlessly through space in suspended animation. But even though he is fast asleep, Roger still manages to get involved in a huge experimental bomb detonation, with the result that his life pod is thrown into the gravitational pull of an alien planet. As the pod crashes on the surface, the life support system kicks in and our hero wakes up. It's time for another adventure in space.
Since the game is so incredibly huge, you will find yourself stuck several times. Especially as this game breaks completely with the standard Sierra style: While most Sierra games took place on solid ground, SQ:TLC's main focus is underwater, which means there are plenty of new approaches to puzzles. While most solutions are fairly standard, there is one puzzle that will make you tear out your hair in despair: the octopus maze.
The octopus maze is basically a sleeping giant octopus, and you need to swim through its tentacles to get a bone on the other side of the screen and then swim back. This may sound easy, but it's not without reason that this particular maze has been declared the most difficult maze ever presented to the adventure gaming community. You, literally, have no margins. Swim one pixel too far, and you are octopus snack. Which means you have to save the game each time you make a small advancement, or suffer the agony of having to do the whole thing over again from the beginning. I suspect many players will give up at this point, but once you have solved it you can sit back and enjoy the rest of the game. And you won't even be halfway through the game yet at that point.
Space Quest: The Lost Chapter is without a doubt one of the best fan-made SQ games out there, but sadly there are some flaws with the game. It has several bugs, which will cause frustration from time to time. One bug is that it is possible to get stuck inside items in some rooms if you are unlucky when crossing over to that room. If you become a victim of this bug, you will have to restore an earlier save and have to avoid walking into the next room from that exact point. A second bug is that items in your inventory will mysteriously disappear from time to time, forcing you to go back where you got them and pick them up again, which can be quite irritating. I had to order the Fiery Frost drink three times, before it finally decided to follow me all the way to the last scene. Another fairly irritating bug is the "blown stacks" bug. This bug will jump into effect on set screens depending on your system, it seems (on my computer, this happened when I was swimming inside Tiny the Terror Fish's cave and tried to swim into the huge cave complex at the back of the cave tunnel). In order to fix this bug, you will have to download the offical patch for the game, overwrite your game files, and run the game with AGI.EXE. While this sounds like an easy solution, the patch itself makes the game unstable. It solves the current blown stacks issue, but it predispositions you to get "out of memory" bugs. Which is why you should NOT install this patch, before you get the blown stacks bug. Doing so, will just cause you to get memory issues instead (before you would get the blown stacks bug). And that brings me to the "Out Of Memory" bug: While the official site claims you can solve it easily by using the SQTLC.COM executable, this is wrong. The game files have changed to only accept commands from AGI.EXE, so trying to start the game with SQTLC.COM will do nothing but give you a messed up screen. What you need to do, is to overwrite the game files with the original game archive (basically re-install the game without the patch). Then the old executable will work again, and you can continue the game. But if you get another blown stacks issue later, you will have to re-install the patch and use the AGI.EXE file. And so on and so on...
But it does say something about the quality of the rest of the game that all those bugs weren't enough to make me give up on it. It is a good game, but all those bugs had to weigh down heavily on the rating. The final score for me is 3 points, although I really wanted to give it more. Damn those bugs.
Review by: Tom Henrik
Safe for all ages
Windows, DOS, NAGI or DOSBox