Space Quest II Review

Screenshot from Space Quest II
Roger Wilco prepares the shuttle for take-off

  • Reviewed by: Mark Goninon
  • Developer: Sierra On-Line
  • Publisher: Sierra On-Line
  • Release Date: 14 November 1987
  • Time played: 1.5 hours

What is it

Every adventure gamer or gamer that played games in the 80s and 90s, would've heard of the company Sierra On-Line and if they played one of their "Quest" games during that period, they probably played one of the Space Quest games, sci-fi adventures developed by "the Two Guys from Andromeda": Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe.

Released in 1987, Space Quest II: Chapter II – Vohaul's Revenge follows the events of Space Quest I: Chapter I – The Sarien Encounter, where a simple janitor named Roger Wilco saves the galaxy from the Sariens who were intent on using a powerful experimental device known as the Star Generator as a superweapon. Despite receiving praise and recognition by the people of Xenon for his valiant efforts, Roger resumes his job as a janitor at Xenon Orbital Station 4. His relatively humdrum existence is interrupted when he is abducted by Sludge Vohaul, the real mastermind behind the events of the first Space Quest, and sent to a labour camp on the planet of Labion as punishment for Roger foiling his plans. Vohaul's nefarious plan in Space Quest II is to invade Xenon with millions of insurance salesmen clones, which makes the plot even sillier than the first game and sets the tone for the rest of the series.

As the game was developed using Sierra's older Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) engine, moving the character is performed by using the keyboard's arrow keys or Numpad and interacting with the world is done by typing commands in a text parser.

The entire Space Quest series sold 1.2 million copies by 1996 so it was quite the commercial success back in the day; it ended up spanning six games from 1986's Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter to 1995's Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier.

How I got it

As I played quite a few Sierra adventure games back in the day it only made sense for me to acquire the entire Space Quest and King's Quest collection when they went on sale on GOG (which was back in April 2011).

The games sat dormant for a while until recently when Choona suggested I revisit all the Sierra adventure games as part of my Pile of Shame Initiative. I've already reviewed a few of the AGI King's Quest adventures so I decided I'd continue to look at other AGI adventures prior to moving on to SCI. After completing the first Space Quest, it was only logical to start on Space Quest II next.

Screenshot from Space Quest II
The About screen actually changes when you die!

What I like:


I just have a natural affinity to the Sci-Fi genre in general. I love anything Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. so a game that parodies elements from these franchises and beyond is going to appeal.

Appealing colour palette

Despite the game being rather low in terms of resolution (160x200! This is the AGI engine we're talking about here) and only 16 available colours, I actually like what they've done with this colour palette when compared to the original Space Quest. The animations in general seem to be better too.

No ridiculously narrow walkways

Despite one particular puzzle where you have to navigate through a maze made out of a hideous, pulsating, brain monster, there aren't any ridiculously narrow walkways like you'd experience in the early King's Quest games, which is a relief.

Mostly logical puzzles

Unlike some of the puzzles I encountered in the King's Quest series, most of the puzzles in Space Quest II made a lot of sense which means I actually was able to complete the game without a walkthrough! Mind you, I have completed the game before but I was amazed that I was able to remember all the puzzle solutions – that or it means most puzzle solutions were rather logical, with the exception of a couple of instances I will talk about later.

Variety of death messages

It wouldn't be a Sierra adventure game with a myriad of ways to die but this seems to be one of the first early Sierra adventures where the death messages start to get humourous: I mean even the About Screen message changes depending on whether you've died in the game or not.

No need to save scum

Unlike many of the early Sierra adventures (e.g. Leisure Suit Larry, Space Quest, Police Quest, even the King's Quest games) you either have to gamble in order to build up your funds or wait until a critical event occurs by random chance: both situations require you to perform "save scumming" in order to win (i.e. restoring saved games until you achieve the outcome you desire). Space Quest II is a breath of fresh air since it doesn't have any of these situations.

No hidden objects

Unlike the original Space Quest (and some of the early King's Quest titles) there is no annoying puzzle which requires you to know that you have to acquire an item without even a hint of its existence (or standing at the right place, at the right time) which is a huge relief.

Screenshot from Space Quest II
The game is pretty old, and it shows.

What I dislike:

There are still rather unforgiving puzzles

I managed to get through the game without a walkthrough but there are still a couple of parts in the game that can be rather unforgiving for those coming to it with fresh eyes. Firstly, there is a part in the game where you're meant to use the mating whistle to lure a Labion Terror Beast onto the screen. It's not entirely clear why you have the mating whistle in the first place and why you need one either which makes this puzzle probably one of the most unforgiving (but, in the spirit of later Sierra SCI point ‘n' click adventures, it helps to try out your inventory items on almost everything and in this regard, you'll eventually figure out how to acquire it and what it's used for).

There is also an alien that can kiss you and it seemingly has no effect, but later in the game it can truly ruin your day. Not a problem for veteran adventure gamers because they save early and save often, but a newbie would probably falter.


Admittedly, I had a rough idea of how to complete this game but even so, 1.5 hours is a pretty short game.

It's old

I'm grasping at straws here because in terms of gameplay, this is definitely one of the better AGI adventures I've played, however at the risk of stating the obvious, this game looks like an old game, sounds like an old game and plays like an old game. It would be pretty cool if they made a remastered version of this for modern audiences (even if they kept the text parser)…. Oh hi 2012 VGA remake of Space Quest II by Infamous Adventures…. guess I now have another game to try out…

Score – 6/10 (Not too bad)

Space Quest II is one of my most memorable experiences with early Sierra adventures… in fact, it may have even been my very first, and despite it being short and not aging well (this is a game that's over 30 years old after all) the game was still a blast to play with very few opportunities for a new player to get lost (unlike other Sierra adventures of the same era). Consequently, I think this is probably one of the best AGI Sierra adventures for someone who has never played an older Sierra adventure before and wanting to actually have a chance at beating the damn thing.

(I've placed the following disclaimer when reviewing Sierra games before and I'll say it again: before I get burned at the stake by the Sierra fans, I'm trying to judge this game on its own merits, playing it today in 2019. No doubt the game was highly regarded by fans in the 1980s, but nowadays, things have evolved and, in my humble opinion, generally for the better).

Is the game worth $14.59 AUD?: No. Although it really depends if you're an old fan (so you've probably already got a copy anyway) and what price you would put on retro games in general. The $14.59 is not only for Space Quest II though; it also gets you Space Quest I and III, so when you think of it as $5 per adventure, it doesn't seem as bad.

If you like this game, you might like…