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Remember the bumblingly-heroic space-janitor Roger Wilco? Indie developers Infamous Adventures, and another, unrelated developer called Team VSB have recently released a couple of free, fan-made efforts sure to please fans of Sierra On-Line's classic Space Quest series. Infamous Adventures has rebuilt Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge from the ground-up, implementing a number of significant updates, and Team VSB has created Vohaul Strikes Back, an unofficial new chapter in Wilco's comedic space saga.
The Space Quest series carries with it some of my fondest early PC gaming memories, so naturally, when I noticed the report on IndieGames.com, I downloaded both games posthaste to give them each a brief test drive.
The Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge remake by Infamous Adventures (also the maker of a free King's Quest III reboot), remains the same game at its core. It's presented in glorious 320x200 resolution with a 16-bit color palette and over 4,000 lines of recorded dialogue. The game's controls have also been updated to support a mouse-only interface (and a couple of puzzles have been altered slightly to accommodate that change), and a few new cut-scenes have been added. The biggest changes are cosmetic, but they make a pretty big difference. It's a labor of love the developers have been working on since 2006.
The second bit of Space Questy-ness comes via a group calling themselves Team VSB. Their game, Vohaul Strikes Back, (unofficially) adds a new feature-length adventure to the Space Quest canon. I've only played a short bit of it so far, myself, but from what I can tell, it's well written and funny, and seems to do an adept job at capturing the irreverent style and humor of its six official predecessors. All of the dialogue in VSB is text-driven, but the one of the developers has since revealed that a speech add-on pack for the game is currently in the works.
Of course, it remains to be seen if all of this awesome fan-service will draw any ire from Activision, which currently owns the Space Quest IP. Back in 2010, you might remember that the publisher put the kibosh on the fan-made project King's Quest: The Silver Lining, before reversing its position at the request of the series' fans. Activision ultimately granted the Silver Lining developers a "fan license," permitting them to release the game.
The fact that Activision has also re-released the entire original Space Quest series digitally in bundles of three on sites like Steam and GoG.com might not bode well for the future availability of fan-made projects.
The developers at Infamous Adventures have at least tried reach out for permission from the original design team to use the IP, but according to their on-site FAQ, the only response they received was an endorsement from one of the original Space Quest developers (one of the so-called 'Two Guys from Andromeda'), Scott Murphy.
"I'm impressed you're all putting so much effort into it through your passion for adventure games," Murphy said. "It's great to know that there're people like you guys out there. You and your team have my blessing. I can certainly appreciate that kind of spirit."
Infamous Adventures also has language in the "About" section of the Space Quest II remake page, explaining the unsanctioned nature of the project. "In fact, we encourage you to go and buy [Activision's] recently released packs with all the original games," it concludes.
All that aside, if you want to get your hands on these games you should strongly consider downloading them sooner, rather than later. If you're curious or undecided, you can check out the trailers for both games, below.
Launch Trailer for Infamous Adventure's free remake of Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge
Launch Trailer for Team VSB's unofficial free Space Quest sequel, Vohaul Strikes Back