May 12, 2010
Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter
The first game by designers Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy, a.k.a. The Two Guys from Andromeda, Space Quest I was released back in 1986 at the beginning of the adventure gaming mainstream era. The game used the early Sierra AGI engine, complete with 16 glorious EGA colours and beautifully stylized graphics, a nice soundtrack and a pretty impressive -definitely hilarious too- parser interface. The plot introduced series star Roger Wilco, a janitor, who started off his heroics by napping in a broom closet while aliens hijacked the spaceship he was supposed to be cleaning and grabbed the devastatingly deadly Star Generator, only to finally wake up and save the universe. The game introduced the series’ trademark humor, frequent -impressively varied too- deaths, difficult puzzles, arcade-y sequences and bad-guy Vohaul. Oh, and save often.
Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge
The first sequel in the series is another text-driven graphics adventure that apparently took less than a year to develop, and, well, quite frankly it shows. Arch-villain Sludge Vohaul returns to hunt a now-famous Roger Wilco in a frustrating game with below average puzzles and mostly flat jokes. Not really worth your time without a walkthrough…
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon
Space Quest 3 was simply stunning and one of the better looking games of 1989, especially when seen on the Amiga. It also sported a truly post-modern and particularly funny plot involving the Space Pirates, a shovelware/software pirating group, who had kidnapped the Two Guys, thus endangering the future of the whole Space Quest franchise. Unless, that is, Roger stopped them, which apparently he did. The game, besides being excellent and taxing as ever, also featured tactical space combat and a playable arcade game.
Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
The first 256-colour VGA Space Quest with full SoundBlaster support and the first point-and-click game in the series too, Space Quest IV comfortably remains among my top 10 adventures even to this day. It’s got everything you could ask for really: time traveling to previous and future SQ games complete with appropriate graphic changes, Roger’s son, a fantastic goodies-filled box, some of the toughest (but quite fair too) puzzles in the series, Lucasarts game parodies, a burger making mini-game, Ms. Astro Chicken, droids, quality voice acting, latex babes, elaborate easter eggs, a smell icon, a Gnome's Lair review (also a walkthrough) and the aptly named Monochrome Boys. An absolute masterpiece.
Space Quest V: Roger Wilco - The Next Mutation
This one I haven’t played, mostly because it was the first Space Quest game that wasn’t designed by both the Guys from Andromeda, though most adventurers seem to agree it’s a mighty fine game. Reviewers liked it quite a bit too. Released back in 1993, Space Quest V had Roger apparently take on the Star Trek universe by graduating from the illustrious StarCon Academy, piloting his very own garbage-collecting spaceship and boldly going where no man had gone before, or so they say.
Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco in The Spinal Frontier
The final installment in the series and the only one to do away with the silly places in outer space in order to focus on the silly ones inside the human body, as experienced by a highly miniaturized Roger of course. Actually, scrap that, as it’s just what the title implies. The game -an SVGA CD exclusive released in 1995- has Mr. Wilco exploring the vaguely nasty planet of Polysorbate LX while running into an incredible number of farcical video game, computer, pop-culture and movie references. Oh, and you’ll definitely love the cartoon-quality graphics and vastly updated point-and-click interface.
Now, as Space Quest 7 -or would it be VII?- never managed to survive the demise of Sierra and no more Space Quest games are to be released in the foreseeable future, seasoned veterans could go around and google for some mostly brilliant fanmade sequels and remakes. Alternatively, both them and gamers looking to dive into the taxing and surreal universe of Space Quest can go for Vivendi’s Space Quest Collection. It might not be the best collection possible (lacking a few game versions and coming with PDF manuals only), but it’s got the basics covered, runs brilliantly on the latest PCs and is rather cheap.
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May 6, 2010
But why, you ask? Is it because those lazy fat-cats of the public sector are losing some of their privileges? Is it because those over-payed Greeks can't be bothered to work? Is it because people fail to understand the necessity of the IMF intervention and the benevolence of our dear EU/US-backed government? And, above all, why did these three innocent people die?
Well, let's start from the dead. Three young people that were chocked to death inside a burning bank building. They were murdered and nothing I can say or do will change this fact or bring any condolence to their friends and families. So, whose fault is this bit of murderous handiwork? I won't answer, I can't answer, but I will give you some of the facts I can more or less be sure of: a) someone or a small group of people wearing masks broke the glass window of the -admittedly hated- Marfin bank and either threw a petrol bomb or some other form of incendiary material inside, b) people were working inside on a day of a mass general strike against their will, c) those people had been forced to work despite their expressed will, d) said bank is on a street the march was bound to enter, e) said bank was locked and operating without security, fire exits or a fire extinguishing system, f) the workers inside were cut off from the outside world - even their Internet connections were cut off by their bosses, g) the workers inside had been pleading for hours to be allowed to leave, as they were justifiably afraid, h) as soon as the fire started both the police and the protesters tried to break the bank's doors to free everyone inside but failed, i) the fire squad turned up late, j) a mainstream TV station was eager to report that firemen were attacked by demonstrators only to be proven wrong by hundreds of videos and the other channels, k) the police or their collaborators have been know -and shown on TV- to dress up as rioters with covered faces in order to provoke violence, l) this murder was far to convenient for the government and the conservative political forces, and m) there are indeed tiny barbaric groups of rioters with a total disrespect of life.
Now, on to the demonstration. For starters it was huge, possibly even over 300,000 strong and was not solely comprised from civil servants. Far from it. The two major unions of workers were also participating, as were a variety of unions (covering everything from engineers and lawyers to shop owners and small businesses), students and a wide spectrum of political organizations, groups and parties. Secondly, it was angry, confrontational and generally peaceful, but was still drowned in chemicals and attacked by the riot police, who were generally pushed back, only to retaliate in the afternoon by invading homes, shops and political centers and being excessively brutal to ordinary people. How brutal? That brutal (via):
The demonstration, politically fragmented as it was, demanded a variety a things ranging from socialism to the end of police brutality, but ended up agreeing on some crucial key points: we don't really care much for the IMF and its imperialist and socially brutal (devastating actually) policies, and are pretty sure that the mainstream politicians of the two parties that have been governing Greece for the past 35 years are to blame. Them and their big business, publishing, TV-owning friends. We are also not going to wait to get passively and quietly raped. Not this time at least.
But why? Why are so many people so enraged? Why is this latest crisis so radically politicizing the Greek people? Simple really. Greece -well, the popular classes of Greece- has been enduring constant and progressively tightening austerity measures since the mid-80s. We had to accept cuts to salaries, pensions, education, health and the quality of public services, as well as increasing taxes (not for them big corporations or major capitalists of course), rising unemployment, shrinking of our (young) democratic rights and intensifying police brutality in order to achieve grand targets like entering the Eurozone, saving the country or hosting those bloody Olympic games. Now though, it seems that all these were lies. Nothing has been solved and all the sacrifices were in vain. They ask us for more. Much more. And the outcome can't be guaranteed, because -they say- we are all to blame.
Yes, despite the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, despite the fact that the average pension is way lower than the EU-average or that our salaries are quite frankly ridiculous, beside the fact that I personally worked for 30 hours a week in the university for less than 50 euros a month, we're told it's our fault. Years of scandals, billions of military spending on useless junk, thousands of public sector golden boys, untaxable rich and a quasi-colonial way of privatizing public property and, apparently, it still is our fault.
Well, finally, we understood. It isn't.
May 3, 2010
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