When Instant Death Was Only A Step Away

It's not until you look at the games of the past that you realise how easy the games of today really are.

Nearly every game these days has a "very easy" setting, some like Bayonetta - with its optional one-button mechanic - taking this to extremes. But in decades past, a lot of games prided themselves on their toughness. On how difficult they were to finish.

And while some people will point to games like Contra as examples of this, today I'm going to show you something a little different. I'm going to show you what adventure games were like before Lucasarts revolutionised the genre.

This is Space Quest 3. Before series like Monkey Island ruled adventure games' earth, Sierra's franchises - Police Quest, King's Quest and Space Quest to name a few - were top dogs. If you wanted a combination of puzzles and humour, Sierra is where you went.

You also went there for brutal, instant death, which I think is the toughest, cruellest death of all in video games. If you were too slow to dodge a bullet, that's your own damn fault. But killing you instantly in a game for doing what seemed the right thing to do? That's cold. And it's something these old Sierra games excelled at.


    I loved the Space Quest games. They were borderline unbeatable if you weren't using a walkthrough.

    Space Quest 3 was my favorite game ever, until I discovered Monkey Islands.. it's still up there in the top 10. Classic game.

    INSANE, i like the hard games from mega drive days this just looks like guesswork till you fluke it through.

    IMO Sierra adventure games were the greatest. Police Quest 3 is in my top 20 games of all time.

    Instant death didn't bother me too much in these games, especially in PQ, seeing as the game was based on realism. Not having a "difficulty" system, and dying from a single mistake adds to the realism of the game.

    Man, I'd love to see a new PQ game... sigh.

    I must have experienced about half of those back then. Those were the days!

    Man, I never knew Sierra made such gory games.

    My instant reaction is that modern games and their reduced difficulty are actually more fun because there is a much reduced frustration factor. However, I hadn't considered the adventure series in the hard catageroy. The adventure games you mentioned above where my staple gaming diet back when I was in school and only had a 286. I guess at the time I just accepted sudden and frequent death as part of the game. Now that I am older, slower and time poor I appreciate a reduced difficulty, but I do look back on my time with those punishing adventure games very fondly. Perhaps I can say I've done the hard yards and deserve a little leniency now :)

    It's been a long, long time, but I seem to recall one of the Police Quest games (probably the first one?) actually gave you the old "game over" if you neglected to walk a lap around your car before getting in...

    Man... Space Quest 3 was amazing. Still one of my favourite games of all time. Harder than steel, too.

    Not many game designers get to put themselves into the game as major supporting characters who are game designers. Two guy

      Accidentally the submit button...

      Two Guys From Andromeda. Best game designers ever.

    this is one reason i love kota, so many memories revisited here.

    Looks like games were a lot funnier back in the day too.

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