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The first three entries in the Space Quest series are unique in the early Sierra line-up in their contemporary subject matter, and the rather linear flow of the puzzles and story.
The more linear story progression helped immensely to make these games more fun than some of the others, because early PC games like these were limited by technological constraints. All of these games may have been graphic games, but they were all still parser-driven at this time, so the games were very limited to what words they could process or recognize.
Therefore, most of the puzzles were to figure out what word was the right word to use to advance the story. The other puzzles were pixel hunts, which were excruciatingly boring in these early low-res games, and not so much more fun today.
Basically, I felt as though the logical progression, and far more linear storyline of the Space Quest series greatly helped to mitigate the frustration of the pixel hunts and death scenes.
This is because you had more information to work with, so the puzzles were less obtuse and more contextual.
Furthermore, with the continuation of the series in the next three games, Space Quest really served as a template for action/adventure story interaction in the following three decades more than other popular series of adventure games.
The Space Quest Series, along with "Quest for Glory," are my favorite Sierra titles from their classic period, which I would define as the late 1980's.
The sci-fi and fantasy atmosphere of the Space Quest titles was very in touch with a number of movies and television shows of the time, and they felt more prescient than some of the other adventure games of the day because of it.
Furthermore, Space Quest never took itself too seriously. All three of these games features a fun plot and amusing story elements. You may even find time to laugh at all of the many death scenes that are possible.
Final Verdict: I would recommend these games to any fan of early adventure games, and I would absolutely recommend them as an introduction to the genre to newcomers. The more linear plots and fun pop culture references will doubtlessly be a boon to anyone who has not died over and over in an early Sierra game yet. Furthermore, I would recommend playing these games again to anyone who hasn't played them for a long time because there are so many little easter eggs buried in the story, that it is fun a second time around.