In retrospective, some years seem to make complete sense. For example, 1989 was a year in which the moons were properly aligned and the world seemed a better place (at least for me). It was the year we were treated with great movies like "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" and "Back to the Future Part II". Our hips moved with the rhythm of the music from Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" and "Sowing The Seeds Of Love" from Tears For Fears. Yes, 1989 definitely was a good year to be alive. It was also the year Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon came out.
It's the second Space Quest game in line to truly feature Roger Wilco, the named hero of the series. Why isn't this the third time Roger Wilco appears, you might ask? Well, allow me to elaborate on that. Back in SQ1 the player could enter a custom name of the character, the default however was Roger Wilco, named after the voice procedure term "Roger, Will Comply". It was only until SQ2 that Roger Wilco's name was etched in stone. Aren't you glad you now know this random fact?
Storywise, it picks up after SQ2. After involuntary euthanizing Vohaul and escaping his asteroid, Roger Wilco is enjoying some well deserved cryogenic sleep. After his pod is being picked up by a garbage freighter, Roger now has new problems to deal with. Apparently his first concern is escaping the freighter, but just as important, Roger must stay alive and avoid getting killed by the hazards that are onboard the freighter. Like most Sierra games, the character can die and if not being careful, Roger will die in lots of different ways. Most of these deaths are followed by an hilarious end scene, so it might be rewarding to see what actually happens when crossing a certain ledge or picking up an Antarean slime devil.
The first part of the game has you figuring out where to find ship parts to rebuild the Aluminum Mallard and fly your hunk of junk right out in the open space again. After that, the player (sort of) has the freedom to pick where to go. Want to do some sightseeing and buy some souvenirs for example? Go visit the lovely purple-ish planet Phleebhut. Or if you're more interested into exclusive culinary events, go and visit the always tasty Monolith Burger! And of course you can drop by on the boiling hot planet of Ortega. Finally you will need to discover the small planet Pestulon to finish up the plot.
Visiting the Monolith Burger in fact, is the key to discover the whole plot of SQ3. Only after playing around there, Roger can can discover the wrong doings of a company called Scumsoft and their vile actions against the Two Guys from Andromeda. Notice the word "can" there? It's in fact possible to just leave the whole plot, but still discover the planet of Pestulon and continuing from there. They've kinda pulled that of in a smart way, leaving Roger oblivious to the missing information and his reactions to stumble on the planet and the villains on Ortega. In a way, SQ3 almost seems a bit non-linear, either you discover the whole plot, or you don't. You can visit the planets in any particular order and there are also multiple ways to get rid of a certain Arnoid the Annihilator. It's all your choice. Of course in all honesty it's still very linear, just solve the puzzles by finding and using the correct items to progress further in the story.
Sierra used the whole space theme perfectly in creating all the different scenes you encounter in SQ3. Numerous references to Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune and several others can be found during Roger's adventures. True SF-fans will have a blast here. Sure, the typically American sense of humour (Planet Fleab Butt...really?) can be a bit corny, but most of the jokes work as far as I'm concerned. Most puzzles are straight forward and I've never felt like getting really stuck somewhere. Once you start playing, the story really flows you into the right direction.
This title in the Space Quest franchise certainly made a leap forward on several points. The overall look of the game is just wonderful, especially considering the fact all the art is made from a mere 16 colours. Recently I've also had the pleasure to play the game with lovely Roland MT-32 support (Munt and Dosbox anyone?) and the sounds are really amazing. The musical score is wonderful and all the sound effects really bring out all of the scenes. Right from the start in the freighter you can hear the ominous music start to play. While several areas further, you can hear the dreadful machines of the ship doing it's work. It really is worth all the credit. Roger Wilco himself is just the perfect type of anti-hero you need to guide and for some reason, he is more of a cool janitor instead of the more goofy one he grows out to be in the later installments of the series. I mean, this guy can build himself a ship Han Solo would be proud of, he can outsmart Arnoid the terminator, win in a fight with Nuke'm Duke'm Robots and still be on time at the Monolith to grab himself a Jumbo Monolith menu. All in a days work.
Aren't there any drawbacks then? No, not really. Perhaps some criticism might be that SQ3 isn't all that hard to finish in a short period of time. Then again, that might be the case for me, because I've played it at least 42 times. If only I could redo playing the game for the first time. Perhaps when the Alzheimer starts kicking in.
In short, if you're into adventure games like those from Sierra, just go and play this. Enjoy and savour the moment. If not, you probably should have stopped reading about 56 sentences ago. For me it's my all time favorite, perhaps even amongst all the Sierra titles.