Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Game 87: Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel (VGA Remake) (1992) – Introduction

Written by Alex

Alright people, let me fire up my computer, have I got a treat for you. You see, I’m finally going to get out of Sierra Land and talk to you all about a cool little game called Lure of the--

Oh brother, who’s at the door now? Maybe they’ll go away if I ignore them. Where was I?

Lure of the Temptress is a point-and-click adventure developed by Revolution Software, a British company also known for—

I guess they won’t go away. Looks like I’m going to have to go give whoever this is a piece of my mind.

Hold on a second.

*gets up to answer door*

Look here pal, I’m trying to do a review oh my God!

“Slight change of plans, buddy!”
Ah! It’s Jim Walls, former California Highway Patrol officer and legendary developer of the Police Quest series of adventure games from Sierra! What are you doing here?! Am I under arrest?!

“You will be if you don’t calm down. Now, what’s this I hear about you trying to review some other game there Alex?”

What, Lure of the Temptress? I mean, it’s the next game on the schedule, and—hey, why is your text in boldface and not mine?

“Because I speak with the full authority of THE LAW. But forget that Lore of the Temptation junk; I’ve got your next game right here.”

What’s this? Is it—oh. I see. Thanks, Jim . . .

Is this my destiny? Am I consigned to play nothing but Leisure Suit Larry, Police Quest, and Robin Hood-themed games?

*checks list on advgamer.blogspot.com*

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (VGA remake)

Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does A Little Undercover Work

Police Quest III: The Kindred

Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood

Robin of Sherwood: The Touchstones of Rhiannon

Yeah, I guess I am.

Alright, you can’t fight city hall. Or Jim Walls. Whatever. Hey, Jim, are you going to just stand there, or do you want to come in for a cup of coffee or something?

Nope! I’m staying right here until you finish that game . . . and give it a good review. I haven’t forgotten what you said about Police Quest III . . . or me.

*Gulp* Okay, big guy. You just . . . hang out there, which is kind of creepy but hey: you’re the cop here, not me.

So Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel was one of Sierra’s flagship games that kicked off the entire Police Quest series, spawning several sequels and even an entirely different series. Trickster reviewed it way back in 2012, and liked it well enough, rating it a 52 on his PISSED scale. Its sequel, Police Quest II: The Vengeance, upped the stakes, garnering a respectable score of 57 from Tricky.

I reviewed Police Quest III and it didn’t fare so well. A score of 47 is alright, but the game had problems. Lots of them.

Tellingly, Police Quest III was the last game to feature supercop Sonny Bonds and to be designed by Mr. Walls himself. The fourth game, Open Season, turned to former L.A.P.D. police chief Daryl F. Gates to develop a game that—

“Do you really want to bring that up?”

Sorry Jim. I forgot you were there.

Anyway, in the early 90s, Sierra got it into their heads to remake several of their old adventure games using their then-state-of-the-art VGA Sierra Creative Interpreter (SCI) to give these games a Clinton-era overhaul. More colors! More music! Better graphics! And because they thought the old parser-based games were completely unplayable to the oh-so sophisticated modern gamer of the day (complete speculation), these titles now had a brand new point-and-click interface.

The first games in the Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Quest for Glory got this treatment . . . and in 1992, so did Police Quest.

I am very familiar with the original Police Quest, but have only played this remake once close to twenty years ago. So let’s see how it stacks up to the original, as well as the series’ only other point-and-click offering to date, Police Quest III.

“Don’t forget to mention that it’s so realistic, police forces actually used it as a training tool and—”

Yeah, okay Jim: That was like one article in one magazine back in 1987 that you slap on the box of every single game you put out.

“Do not!”

Sure. Anyway, the plans for remakes of the rest of the early games in Sierra’s library was scrapped, leaving the existing VGA overhauls unique curiosities in the Sierra library.

The Police Quest remake comes with a manual in the form of the Lytton Police Gazette, the department’s informational newsletter that doubles as a copy-protection mechanism, as well as containing some hints for the game, such as an explanation of poker hands.

It’s a quick read and pretty entertaining. And it also has a map of Lytton.

Yes, this game will have a driving mechanic. In the original Police Quest, you controlled a speck-sized car on a map that looked similar to the above. In Police Quest II, you just typed “Drive station” or “Drive airport,” which was awesome. And Police Quest III . . . Police Quest III had one of the worst driving interfaces in the history of Western Civilization. I can’t wait (*makes rude gesture with free hand*) to relive the driving interface in this one.

Enough backstory. On with the game! Leave your guesses for the PISSED score in the comments below, and come join me, and wish me God’s blessings, as I return to the mean-streets of Lytton to combat . . . THE DEATH ANGEL!

“This game’s going to get a 100.”

That’s . . . that’s pretty much impossible, Jim.

“. . . is it?”

Oh boy. Looks like this is gonna be a long one . . .

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Admin's note: So, we know plenty of you were hoping to get your daily dose of smu... ummm, cultural enlightenment, in form of a review of Leather Goddesses of Phobos 2. It turned out that some peculiar Californian law  explicitly forbids reviewing that game before reviewing its even more classic predecessor. Because the source of this information was none other than that trustworthy law enforcement officer, Jim Walls, we felt obliged to review instead the Police Quest remake. But don't worry, rumor says that the original Leather Goddesses is going to be soon reviewed as a Missed Classic on this very same blog! Stay tuned...


  1. "
    The first games in the Space Quest, Leisure Suit Larry, and Quest for Glory got this treatment . . . and in 1992, so did Police Quest."

    King's Quest also! And, er, Oil's Well...

    "the plans for remakes of the rest of the early games in Sierra’s library was scrapped, leaving the existing VGA overhauls unique curiosities in the Sierra library."

    Hey, eventually the super-fans at AGD Interactive did an excellent job of picking this thread back up!

    1. The King's Quest remake (which was reviewed here at few years ago) is notably different to the others in that it changed the graphics (to a whopping 16 colours!) but didn't switch to a mouse interface like the VGA updated other games did.

      And... ... ... ... 51!

    2. I actually wish Sierra would have kept that up. A graphical refresh of every game every few years (if they could have found a way to do so at low cost) could have been nice. I think the biggest issue was switching UIs which necessitated redesigning puzzles.

    3. I would have loved it if they redid all the parser games to point-and-click too. As you'll find out very soon, parser games frustrate me immensely. They didn't at the time, when that was all we had, but as soon as developers started using mouse interfaces, my patience for a text parser fast approached zero

    4. I agree with that with the early mixed text/graphics games but I have come to love the Infocom parser. The best thing about reviewing all those old games is falling back in love with textual storytelling. We'll see how I feel in a few more games as we get away from the "classics" of Infocom.

    5. The problem was mainly Sierra's particular parser. It was crap.

    6. @Rowan: You're right! I had VGA/point-and-click on the mind, and completely overlooked the KQ I remake. I'll show myself to the corner...

    7. @Joe: I too would have *loved* to have seen what Sierra could have done if they kept remaking the parser games to match the then-current VGA/point-and-click aesthetic and format. The second volume of most franchises seemed to be the forgotten ones, at least in my recollection.

    8. As far as I know, the "fan" games start to come around 2001 with the release of the fan-remake of KQ1. There may be others. The "fan" games do not count towards our playlist by our current rules, but in the many game-years between now and 2001 we may adjust some things. We'll have plenty of extra time to play in our retirement homes.

    9. We do, we do.

      Honestly, while I've enjoyed the fan games, most of them feel a little . . . off. I can't help it, but I don't consider them canon.

      I will say, though, having played ADGI's QfG I, KQs I, II, and III, the other KQ III, and the SQ II fan remakes, their quality *is* astounding.

    10. @Joe: I don't think our rules have anything against "fan" games:

      "A Potential candidate for inclusion on the playlist must be either listed on MobyGames as part of the adventure genre (excluding interactive fiction games) and it must have at least 10 votes, or it must appear on the Wikipedia List of Graphic Adventure Games (formerly Notable Graphic Adventure Games) list.

      A Potential game is automatically Accepted on the playlist, if it satisfies three criteria:
      1) It has at least 20 votes on Moby Games
      2) It is listed on the Wikipedia List of Notable Graphic Adventure Games
      3) It is undeniably a graphic adventure game. This is of course entirely subjective.

      A Potential game that satisfies at least two of the above criteria, but not all three, is classified as Borderline and a potential game that satisfies only one of the above criteria is classified as Disregarded."

      Checking the AGD KQ2 remake, it has already 36 votes in Mobygames and is definitely an adventure game, so it will definitely be Borderline.

  2. Replies
    1. As good a guess as any! Honestly, I doubt it'll be worse than PQ 3...but we'll see.

  3. Well that was certainly a curious introduction. Without wanting to offend Mr. Walls too much, I think it'll only score a few points better than the original. I'm gonna suggest a nice round 60.

    I may also play along, once I finish Kyrandia which I'm pretty close to except for a slightly obtuse puzzle.

    1. Which puzzle ? Cannot imagine it hehe

    2. Ok now I'm worried about these comments, guys!

    3. No, honestly, the puzzles may not be the best around, but they are far from the worst. If you manage the maze, I think you can manage the rest

    4. @Andy: I'm just a curious guy I guess. I agree that it'll likely score around the same as the original. That said, I only played the remake once YEARS ago...maybe 20 years ago, and I remember it little.

      Having gotten a bit into it for now, without spoiling anything...it's pretty good!

  4. I'm going to go for a 50. In my opinion the driving sections in the remake are just boring while they were pretty quaint and funny in the original.

    1. Compared to the PQ3, I think they were an improvement (if only a slight improvement).

    2. Honestly, so far the driving in the remake is a bit cumbersome, but FAR better than in PQ 3.

      I liked PQ 2's the best: "Drive station." "Okay."

  5. It'll score one point higher. 53.

  6. Of all the Sierra remakes, this one I enjoyed most. It almost seems like a completely different game, because a) the characters feel a bit more fleshed out due to the better graphics and b) even Lytton seems like a big city (with a state-of-the-art police station), instead of the cozy backwater of the original.

    Let's say 58.

    1. So far, I am noting many differences. Small ones, but a lot actually clarify certain puzzles.

      It's like a new game to me, though, seeing as how it's been a long while since I played this remake, and I only played it once.

  7. What? Nobody's guessing 100? I for sure don't want to argue with Jim Walls, so... 100!

  8. The dice says... 50. If the dice don't kill me in the next DnD session I fear Jim Walls will get me.

    1. Hm. Well, 50 is a nice, round number. Perhaps you can round up if the Wall Man ever comes to your door (looks nervously over shoulder). Ah...hi Jim...

  9. So, was Jim Walls involved in the making of the remake? At least he isn't mentioned in Mobygames: http://www.mobygames.com/game/police-quest-in-pursuit-of-the-death-angel-

    1. More importantly, is he still blocking Alex's front door?

    2. @Ilmari: He was not in the intro credits!

      @TBD: I'm afraid I'll have to go all Glomar on you and neither confirm nor deny (please send help).

    3. Understood.

      I've called the police and they said they've got someone in the area who's just been working undercover as a candy striper... ... oh!

  10. >we felt obliged to review instead the Police Quest remake

    One thing I think is really neat about the current system of having two main games at the same time is that how efficient it is: even when there is some complication affecting game play order, the other "thread" will continue fine, and (after the complication's been sorted out) it will sooner or later correct itself without affecting the pace of the blog too much. It's a bit like v-sync.

    1. If I knew what a v-sync was, I'd agree!

      I still agree, just with less authority...

    2. http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=358751

    3. Ask and ye shall receive!

  11. I´m guessing 56, even im Jim Walls won´t agree

  12. Okay Officer Walls, you've inspired me.

    Even though I'm busy for the next little while with some Leather Goddesses, if I can manage to get ahead of schedule with my blog posts, I'm going to be playing along!