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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:

  • The Ahnold/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).
  • Boss Button: Purportedly, one of the menu options. However, upon selecting it, the screen would cut to black and say that the player's boss wouldn't be happy if they knew how long the player had been playing the game, showing the total time the player had been playing up to that point.
  • Breather Episode: In a way. Roger is not chased by any Evil Overlord, or forced on some planet by outside circumstances, the galaxy is in no real peril this time, and Roger is far from Xenon and responsibilities, and far from Vohaul waiting for him in Space Quest IV. ScumSoft is ruthless for sure, but the main thing they're doing is just releasing low-quality video games.
    • 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.
  • 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.
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  • 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.
  • Dummied Out: In some production stills, a large green monster can be seen stalking Roger on the screen with the TIE Fighter and ACME rocket. Any way of triggering its appearance in the final game has yet to be found.
    • In fact, there is no graphic in the game at all for a large monster on the garbage scow diskette.
  • Eaten Alive: Roger gets eaten by a snake in one of the deaths.
  • 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. Worse, the game provides no clue that it even exists unless you already know to specifically look for it. One suspects that hint book sales were lagging at the time.
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    • The fact that the arcade cabinet contains a vital clue to understanding the plot. It just barely misses being Unwinnable by Design by the fact that you can still beat the game without it; you'll just have a MUCH harder time.
      • To be fair, you ARE given a very slight hint that you should be doing this, as you will gain 5 score points for every safe landing of the chicken, until you gain 50 points. (It should be noted you "win" and get the encrypted message for landing the chicken 10 times safely in one play)
      • But they thought of Anti-Frustration Features, as Astro Chicken has actually a threshold for which it will show you the encrypted message once, as a "pity win": if you get a game over at your tenth buck inserted. Though, if you do get the pity win, you lose the opportunity to make the 50 points landing chickens.
  • "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: In addition to a few esoteric requirements (such as searching the captain's chair in the Aluminum Mallard for some buckazoids you will never need), there are also two ways to deal with Arnoid, only one of which gives you full points (tricking him into going under the carnivorous pods). You'll also need to demonstrate at least some skill at Astro Chicken.
    • This means not getting the pity win, otherwise the last lousy point will be Lost Forever.
  • 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.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: In-Universe. Implied by the ending as the two programmers that were rescued by Roger were taken to Sierra and possibly made the game itself. It's openly stated in the Peter Spear hintbook-slash-Novelization The Space Quest Companion.
  • 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.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg did the soundtrack.
  • 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!:
    • Scum Soft is based on Microsoft, with Elmo bearing a slight resemblance to Bill Gates.
    • The Aluminium Mallard is an obvious shout out to the Millenium 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.
    • Arnoid is an obvious spoof of the Terminator.
  • Time Skip: An unknown amount of time (estimated to be a century) has passed since Space Quest II. Enough for Roger's unpaid whistle to amass $400,000 with the interest.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change:
    • "Astro Chicken"... it's never stated that you have to get a high score in the game to get the plot moving, so to new players, it looks like a bonus arcade game you can play.
      • You do get a bit of a hint, because every chicken safely landed gets you +5 points up to 50 points.
    • The Nukem Dukem robot battle against Elmo Pug.
    • The dogfight with the Pirates at the end.
  • 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


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