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Video Game / Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon

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Annihilator droids, overpriced space fast food and an evil software developer. Just another ordinary adventure for our Roger.
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon (also simply known as Space Quest III) is the third game in the Space Quest series, released in 1989. Taking place immediately after Space Quest II, Roger Wilco's escape pod is captured by a garbage freighter. As he manages to escape it with an abandoned ship, he'll discover that he's being hunted down by an android for not paying for a whistle in the previous game. Moreover, he finds another sinister company known as ScumSoft, who are creating mediocre games by unethical means.

This video game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: All the weapons used by Scumsoft members encase their target in jell-o blocks.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: You don't actually need to beat the Astro Chicken game to get the next plot detail. The hidden message appears after failing ten times for anyone who just can't get a hang of the arcade gameplay.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • Most of Roger's stuff from the last game is gone, leaving him only carrying the gem he found. Ironically one of the items that's disappeared without explanation is the whistle Arnoid's chasing Roger down to collect payment on.
    • When Roger infiltrates Scumsoft and steals a company uniform, he discards all of his old inventory with the game saying outright it's doing the player a favor by clearing out all the stuff they don't need anymore.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Scumsoft was Mark and Scott taking a shot at the hostile work environment they felt Sierra had at the time. Even going so far as to include Ken Williams and Rick Cavin (head of productions at the time), as two authority figures who routinely crack whips at the programmers.
  • Border Patrol: Three instances, two on Phleebhut, one on Pestulon. On Phleebhut, going south too many times resulted in Roger encountering (and if he didn't go back up, being eaten by) a gigantic snake; going north too many times meant he'd get hit by lightning. On Pestulon, Roger can't walk past the Scum Soft building without activating the forcefields and being electrocuted.
  • Boss Button: Purportedly, one of the menu options. However, upon selecting it, the screen would cut to black and open a long series of pop-up windows saying that the player's boss wouldn't be happy if they knew how long the player had been playing the game, and showing the total time the player had been playing up to that point.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • In the final stage, one of the Two Guys will turn to the screen and ask the player if he's enjoying the game and whether it was worth $59.99.
    • An unused animation shows the other one turn to the screen and tell the player that he thinks Roger has been in space for too long.
    • In the end, Roger and the Two Guys land at the Sierra studios, and the two guys are recruited to program Space Quest video games.
  • Breather Episode: In-game, Roger going to the Monolith Burger for a bite after selling his Labion gem from Space Quest II. This is even how he stumbles upon the main plot.
  • But Thou Must!: When the Pushy Counter Clerk asks Roger whether he'd like something to drink, Space Spuds, and a Blattfruit Pie with his order, the two options available are "Yes" and "Yes". He'll also offer a special, for which the only option is "Okay". (None of these add to your total though.)
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ortega. It's the first planet you'll see when you first look at where you can go, even though you'll have no reason to go there until near the end of the game.
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover shows Roger eating fast food, while being pursued by Skull Fighters, as clerk ladies at Monolith Burger look on in shock, from what looks like pay/pickup windows. In the actual game, Monolith Burger has no such windows nor any (visible) humans working there. The game also won't let you enter your ship with food, saying that "you're likely to get crumbs all over the computer or something." And while Roger does come under attack by Scumsoft Skull Fighters, it (fortunately) happens far away from there.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Double Subversion; stepping out onto lava planet Ortega without special protection will cause you to die instantly from the planet's high surface temperature (Well, not instantly, but before you'll be done for sure). The protection in question? Thermo-cooled underwear. Really.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: In the beginning, Roger must leap off a conveyor belt before falling into a trash grinder at the end of it.
  • Death World: Ortega is this, by virtue of being a lava planet you can't land on without protection. Phleebut halfway qualifies, since it has its bits of lethal fauna and flora, but is mainly a boring place.
  • Deflector Shields: On the Aluminum Mallard. They are required to survive escaping the garbage freighter, and to successfully battle the titular Pirates. If you're not careful, they can and WILL be depleted.
  • Direct Line to the Author:
    • Roger Wilco had written his memoirs and sent them back in time to Sierra, who turned them into the Space Quest games, and the raw memoirs were the Peter Spear hintbook-slash-Novelization The Space Quest Companion.
    • In Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, Roger delivers in-game versions of the creators of the Space Quest games to Sierra on Earth, with whom they presumably go on to make... the Space Quest games.
  • Eaten Alive: Roger gets eaten by a snake and pulsating pods in 2 of the deaths.
  • Gelatinous Encasement: ScumSoft's security system consists of drones and pistols that encase the guilty party in a block of green Jello. If Roger screws up and gets caught while infiltrating their headquarters, this will be what happens to him.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The fusion reactor that must be obtained early in the game to repair the Aluminium Mallard, even though it's hidden behind the scenery. You have to look at the wire to even be told that there's a hole in the room and then look into the unseen hole to see the reactor.
    • You have to win the game of Astro Chicken (or just play it ten times) and buy food at the Monolith Burger joint to decode the message. Nothing tells you that you need to do these things. You're just supposed to do them because they're there.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!": The main plot of Space Quest III kicks off with Roger discovering a secret message from the Two Guys from Andromeda calling for help while playing a game of "Astro Chicken".
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: At the end when the light-speed drive kicks in with no course set, and the Two Guys are scared they're going to die.
  • Human Popsicle: Roger starts as this, woken up when the garbage freighter picks up his Escape Pod, which triggers the recovery mode on his sleep chamber.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: For once it's on the player's side. Arnoid is unable to cross the edge of dunes in the foreground, so if you can make it past that or stay in the background, he can't get you.
  • Invisibility Cloak: Two examples.
    • A planet-scale one, to hide the titular Pirates' homebase of Pestulon, enforced by a giant piece of machinery on Ortega.
    • A personal one with Arnoid's belt, which Roger puts to use on Pestulon.
  • Jumped at the Call: Roger when he finds out the hidden message in Astro Chicken. Unlike every other game in the series, Roger does this entirely of his own volition: all the other games in the series force him into the situation, while this game has him getting involved simply because it's the right thing to do, which allows him to finally be called a true hero.
  • Last Lousy Point: You can win the game without doing some things, such as searching the captain's chair in the Aluminum Mallard and getting a high score on Astro Chicken. However, of the two ways to defeat Arnoid, only one gives you full points: tricking him into going under the carnivorous pods. If you push him into the gears, you get less points for some reason.
  • Lighter and Softer: One of the lighter installments. Still many ways to die a horrible death, but no actual galaxy-saving, and the Pirates come off as comedic thanks to their jell-o guns and master plan of...releasing crummy video games.
  • Nitro Express: Features a thermal detonator you had to use to disable a shield generator on an unstable volcanic planet. Trying to take one with you back to your ship across an unstable piece of land or pole-vaulting over the resulting rift results in scattering yourself in a five meter radius.
  • Player Nudge: The death messages start to give out hints in this game and will continue on for the rest of the installments.
  • Poke the Poodle: Compared to most villains in the series. ScumSoft run a hostile workplace, but the end result isn't that they're destroying planets or subjugating entire civilizations, just that they're selling crummy video games.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg composed the score.
  • Robotic Psychopath: The robots on the garbage freighter are this, as they have no regard for organics, and will simply kill Roger on sight.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: The Ratoids. They seem to have a primitive understanding of technology.
  • Series Continuity Error: Arnoid the Annihilator is chasing down Roger for an unpaid whistle that he ordered in the second game. However, the whistle was clearly stated to be free for Roger. It was later handwaved in The Space Quest Companion.
  • Serious Business: The Gippazoid Novelty Company deals with debtors using robot assassins. Remember to read the fine print on that whistle, folks; it just might save your life.
  • Shout-Out / Take That!:
    • According to Scott Murphy Scumsoft is a plug for Scott Murphy's own personal company, with Elmo being patterned off of Ken Williams and evil side of the Sierra company. Elmo is also a generic nerd, and is related to all the other nerds in the company, described as the 'secret society of the nerds'. They all share same general physical appearance and face.
    • The Aluminum Mallard is an obvious shout out to the Millennium Falcon, complete with emergency repairs and a faulty hyperdrive.
    • Another Star Wars reference with the thermal detonator.
    • The Bowtie Fighter in the junk freighter. If you look at it, it says it's from the Cologne Wars, all references to the Star Wars tie fighters and clone wars.
    • There's what appears to be a wing off an X-wing in the room where Roger finds the reactor.
    • Arnoid is an obvious spoof of the Terminator.
    • Nukem Dukem Robots is a reference to Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots note .
  • Stripped to the Bone: This can happen to Roger in two ways. One way has him falling into lava with his flesh melting off. Another way has his charred skeleton remain untouched after being hit by lightning or electrocuted.
  • Tech-Demo Game: The intro was a popular demo for the Roland MT-32. Sierra promoted the game, along with King's Quest IV: The Perils of Rosella, as a showcase for sound cards in general.
  • Terminator Impersonator: Arnoid, a deadly collections agent robot, coming for Roger for that Labion Terror-beast whistle (despite being a free giveaway in the second game). He's called a terminator by the narration.
  • Time Skip: An unknown amount of time (estimated to be a century, or less depending on source and parallel universe) has passed since Space Quest II. Enough for Roger's unpaid whistle to amass $400,000 worth of interest.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • To progress the plot without either reading spoilers or stumbling onto the next plot point, the player will need to play the "Astro Chicken" arcade game and get a high score.
    • The Nukem Dukem robot battle against Elmo Pug.
    • The dogfight with the Pirates at the end.
  • Unwinnable by Design: If you buy anything other than the kid's meal at Monolith Burger, you won't get the decoder ring to decode the hidden message and can't advance the plot. The only indication you get that you're supposed to buy the kid's meal is the price, $7, the same amount you find in the Aluminum Mallard, even though you get up to $425 for selling the Labion gem.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: If you eat the Big Belcher at Monolith, when you go back to your ship and try to fly away, Roger gets out and goes around the corner and vomits.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Aluminum Mallard, a literal piece of junk you get from a garbage freighter and repair back to working order with whatever materials you have available at hand.

Alternative Title(s): Space Quest III