Space Quest III

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Space Quest III:
The Pirates of Pestulon
Space Quest III cover art.png
Cover art by John Shaw
Developer(s) Sierra On-Line
Publisher(s) Sierra On-Line
Designer(s) Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy
Series Space Quest
Engine SCI0
Platform(s) DOS, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST
Release date(s) March 24, 1989
Genre(s) Adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon is a 1989 graphic adventure game by Sierra On-Line, and the third game in the Space Quest series.


Roger Wilco's escape pod from the end of Space Quest II is floating in space until it is picked up by an automated garbage freighter. Finding a derelict spaceship amongst the freighter's garbage, Roger sets out to repair the Aluminum Mallard and leave the scow.

Roger visits a variety of locations, including a fast food restaurant called Monolith Burger and a desert planet called Phleebhut. At the latter, he encounters trouble, as Arnoid the Annihilator (an Arnold Schwarzenegger-like android terminator) hunts him for not paying for a whistle in Space Quest II (a continuity error in that the order form for the whistle clearly stated that it was in fact free). From information he picks up there and at Monolith Burger, Roger eventually discovers the sinister activities of a video game company known as ScumSoft, run by the "Pirates of Pestulon".

Pestulon, a small moon of the volcanic planet Ortega, is covered in soft, moss-like vegetation, and dotted with twisted tree-like growths throughout. Elmo Pug, the CEO of ScumSoft, has abducted the Two Guys from Andromeda and is forcing them to design awful games.

Roger manages to sneak into the supposedly impregnable ScumSoft building and rescue the two programmers. He is discovered, and must battle Pug in a game that combines giant Mecha-style combat with Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots. After winning, Roger and the Two Guys escape. In the game's conclusion, Roger delivers the two game designers to Sierra On-Line's president, Ken Williams, on Earth.

Technical details[edit]

A scene from the garbage freighter, showing some typical Space Quest science fiction allusions: wrecks of a TIE fighter, an ACME Rocket, and the Jupiter 2 spacecraft.

Space Quest III was released on March 24, 1989, and was developed using an early version of Sierra's SCI engine. Unlike the series' previous installments, the player is no longer able to choose the protagonist's name. From this game onward, the character is known as Roger Wilco, the name that had previously been the default.

It features music composed by Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg, and was one of the first games to support the new Sound Blaster sound card. Sound effects include digitized audio sampling, such as the voice of Roger saying "Where am I?" during the introduction. The digitized effects can be heard in the Tandy, Amiga and Macintosh versions of the game. Though Space Quest III was designed to utilize the Sound Blaster's ability to play digital samples, the inclusion of an incorrect audio driver left the effects unavailable to IBM PC users with the Sound Blaster card.

PC versions of the game support mouse movement and a new, heavily improved text parser. Mouse movement was still in a primitive state at the time of the game's release, so Roger is unable to automatically find his way around obstacles in the game world, instead stopping if he encounters a barrier. Computer mice were relatively new at the time, and Sierra's mouse movement would greatly improve in subsequent games.

Astro Chicken[edit]

Astro Chicken is an arcade minigame which can be found in Space Quest III. Gameplay consists of attempting to land a chicken on a trampoline. The mechanics of the game are similar to those of Lunar Lander, with the exception that the chicken rebounds unharmed if it strikes the trampoline too forcefully. Achieving a high score reveals a hidden distress message left by the Two Guys from Andromeda. The Astro Chicken theme music is a variation on Chicken Reel, a traditional folk song best known for its use in animated cartoons. Sierra released the Astro Chicken minigame as a demo to promote Space Quest III.


UK magazine C&VG gave the ST version a score of 83%, calling it "enjoyable and addictive".[1]

In 1989, Dragon gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.[2] The Macintosh & PC/MS-DOS versions of the game were also given 4 out of 5 stars.[3] Compute! praised the game's graphics and sound card audio, stating that they were the best of the series.[4]Computer Gaming World gave the game a positive review, noting improvements in the presentation and action sequences over its predecessors.[5] In 1989 the magazine gave it a Special Award for Achievement in Sound.[6]

In 2014, Space Quest III was featured in the debut episode of the retro gaming YouTube series Blast Backwards. Series director Aaron Steinke gives a fond recollection of the game calling it a "cult classic."[7]


  1. ^ Campbell, Keith (September 1989). "Space Quest III". Computer and Video Games (94). p. 68. 
  2. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (September 1989). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (149): 78–79. 
  3. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (December 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (176): 62. 
  4. ^ Guerra, Bob (November 1989). "Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon". Compute!: 134. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  5. ^ Lombardi, Chris (August 1989). "Review: Space Quest III". Computer Gaming World. pp. 36–37. 
  6. ^ "Game of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World: 8. October 1989. 
  7. ^ Steinke, Aaron. "Blast Backwards - Space Quest III (PC)". Retrieved 5 November 2014. 

External links[edit]