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Space Quest narrator Gary Owens passes away

Gary Owens (born Gary Altman) was an American disc jockey and voice actor. His polished baritone speaking voice generally offered deadpan recitations of total nonsense, which he frequently demonstrated as the announcer on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In. Owens was equally proficient in straight or silly assignments and was frequently heard in television, radio, and commercials. He was best known, aside from being the announcer on Laugh-In, for providing the voice of the titular superhero on Space Ghost. He also played himself in a cameo appearance on Space Ghost Coast to Coast in 1998. Likewise, Owens provided the voice of Roger Ramjet on The Roger Ramjet Cartoons. He later served as voice of the over-the-air digital network Antenna TV.

To the Sierra fans, Gary Owens was best known as the narrator of the Space Quest games. He first narrated Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers. The game's final line "Thank you for playing Space Quest IV. As usual, you've been quite a pant load" became his trademark line to the fans. He returned as narrator for Space Quest 6: The Spinal Frontier, the series final installment.

When Space Quest designers Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe reunited to Kickstart SpaceVenture, their first collaboration since Space Quest 4 in 1991, they announced on June 9 2012 that Gary Owens would be the narrator of their new space adventure. SpaceVenture community manager, Chris Pope (a.k.a. the Space Pope), had a live interview with Gary Owens about his life and collaboration with Sierra and SpaceVenture on June 10, which you can hear below.

Chris Pope of the Guys from Andromeda interviews Gary Owens (06/10/2012)

Sadly, Gary Owens passed away at his Los Angeles-area home on Thursday February 12 2015. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Arleta, and their two sons.

Following the news of Gary's passing, Mark Crowe posted the following on the SpaceQuest.net forums:

Scott and I are both very saddened by the news of Gary Owens' passing the the age of 80. What can we say- the man was a living legend in the entertainment biz whom we were both extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to work with and honored to have featured in Space Quest. It was definitely a high-point in our younger lives/careers and an experience I'll always look back on warmly. What makes this news doubly hard ,of course, is that (as you all know) Gary was to be featured as the narrator in Spaceventure. Unfortunately, Mr. Owens health fell into decline before we were able to record him. But what we want everyone to know is that, though we could never replace Gary as the narrator, we will work hard to find the right talent for the job.

Some of the reactions on Gary Owen's passing:

Scott Murphy (Space Quest designer): "I am totally gutted over the loss of #GaryOwens. He was a consummate pro & gentleman. 2015 has been the worst year ever. Thank you, Gary."

Mark Crowe (Space Quest designer): "Very saddened by the news of Gary Owen's passing."

Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry designer): "Thanks for all the laughs you gave us, Gary! You were the best."

Troels Pleimert (Space Quest Historian): "#RIPGaryOwens is a thing now. #SpaceVenture will not be the same without him. I'll never forget him scolding me for failing in #SpaceQuest."

F.E.A.R. Platinum now on GOG!

F.E.A.R. Platinum (the complete trilogy, including F.E.A.R., Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate) is now available on GOG! If you think Phantasmagoria is scary, try out these first-person shooters, preferably in the dark and with headphones :). Yes, they are first-person shooters (and very good ones at that), but they also deliciously mess up your mind! In fact, I bet most of you will be sweating and jumping from your chair on quite a few occasions. And you can hardly go wrong for a measly 5 bucks.

Purchase the trilogy DRM-free from here!

Space Quest 6: The Spinal Frontier is inserted in the Sierra Chest

Despite saving the universe from the Pukoids and reclaiming Starship Goliath in Space Quest 5: The Next Mutation, Roger has been found guilty by the Starcon Federation for abandoning his post, deviating from mission parameters, misuse of Starcon property, disintegrating a fellow officer, perpetrating a sequel without authorization and consorting with a female of higher rank. He is decommissioned to janitor second class on the SCS Deepship 86, under commander Kielbasa.

During a shore leave on Polysorbate LX, two goons try to kidnap Roger for unknown reasons, but Roger is rescued in time by corpsman Stellar Santiago, who took some leave from the SCS Heinz 57 to visit Roger and has strong feelings for him, something Beatrice Wankmeister probably wouldn't like, should she find out... Shortly after, Deepship 86 receives a new directive and sets course for Delta Burksilon. Sharpei, the old widow of Admiral Blundtphang, is building an off-world retirement center there and has requested assistance, including that of Roger.

Roger's required assistance however turns out to be nothing more than to mop the floor of the old woman, but then something unexpected happens. The widow's room fills with gas and Roger barely escapes, once again saved by Stellar. Stellar however did not escape the deadly trap and is presumed dead... until Roger receives a distress call from her. As the only one who believes Stellar is still alive, Roger sets out, once again against orders, to search Stellar, rescue her and find out the truth about Sharpei's true intentions, a journey that will take him through space, anti anomalies and even in the bowels of Stellar.

After the fifth episode, which was designed by Marc Crowe at Dynamix, the Space Quest series returned to Sierra On-Line and designers Josh Mandel and Scott Murphy. Josh Mandel, also known as the third guy from Andromeda, had also collaborated as co-writer and voice talent in Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers. Also Gary Owens returned as narrator.

Development ran into some issues as Josh left Sierra before the game was completed. Due to lack of communication and reportedly even strife, several parts of the original design were cut out, primarily in the latter stages of the game. It would also turn out to be the last of the epic Space Quest series. Although Space Quest 7 was in development, it was never completed or released.

Interestingly, the Space Quest demo, distributed with Sierra's Interaction Magazine, featured an alternate story not related to the main game, with Roger Wilco floating in space outside the bridge while the ship is invaded by toaster-headed mechanoids, the Bjorn. Make sure to give the demo a spin (available in the downloads section).

See the game here.

Ice Age 2: The Meltdown is inserted in the Sierra Chest

Based on the animated movie by the same name, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown brings you the adventures of Scrat, the saber-toothed squirrel. As the ice is slowly melting, the creatures of Ice Age are enjoying themselves on slides and in pools from melted ice in the valley's Water Park, unaware that the glacier which surrounds the valley is gradually breaking apart. Because of a silly stunt by Sid the sloth, Manny the wooly mammoth and Diego the saber-toothed cat discover that the glacier functions as a dam, holding back a sea of water which would flood the entire valley and kill all animals trapped in it. They warn all animals but can't convince them of the imminent danger. Luckily a vulture, who looks forward to feast on the countless carcasses, does convince them, and even tells them of a large tree at the other end of the valley which could function as a boat and save them all. All creatures head for the boat, hoping to get there before the valley floods. On their way, Manny, Sid and Diego meet some new companions: possums Crash and Eddy and their 'sister' Ellie, who is a mammoth but thinks she's a possum also. During their adventures, Diego is confronted with his fear for water, Sid nearly gets sacrificed to the Fire God in a sloth village and two sea reptiles, Cretaceous and Maelstrom, are hunting them down.

This third-person action adventure game places you in the role of Scrat, the pathetic saber-toothed squirrel, while you follow the adventures of the movie protagonists on their path to safety. Scrat travels through various worlds, collecting as many nuts as possible to unlock bonus features in the process. He'll start his journey in Water Park, and travel through the forest and Sloth Village and also through new locations like the Mud Bog and even inside the bowels of Maelstrom to finally arrive at the Glacier. Scrat can jump, climb, slide, use trampolines, swing ropes, sniff, dig and many more things - he can even ride swamp birds and use his tail as a torch! In addition he has a range of combat moves at his disposal, like stomp, roll and spin attacks and the ability to throw pebbles against the many angry creatures he encounters, from rock-tossing beetles to piranhas, birds, and polar bears.

The game also features several mini-games, introducing a nice variety in addition to the main game play: ride the Eviscerator as Sid, try catching Crash and Eddy as Diego, play penguin bowling, throw pebbles at forest monkeys and more.
The game, developed by Eurocom (which also designed Robots), features voice talents of the original move cast, like Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Chris Wedge. It was also Fox Interactive's last title. Ice Age 2 was released for the IBM PC, GameCube, XBOX, PlayStation 2 and, later on, also the Wii. It was also developed as a handheld game for the GBA.

See the game here.

Sierra to publish Shiftlings

On January 15 Sierra announced it has teamed up with Rock Pocket Games to publish the Norway-based studio's upcoming puzzle platforming game, Shiftlings , coming to consoles and PC this spring. Set in an intergalactic reality show, Shiftlings is a quirky puzzle platformer about a pair of space custodians who travel the cosmos completing complex challenges. Shiftlings' special twist is that these two oddballs are linked by a single air hose, allowing them to pass gas back and forth between their space suits in an instant. This feature lets one character expand massively in size and weight, reducing mobility but providing clever ways to solve objectives and reach new terrain. The full adventure, crafted for both single-player and two-player local and online cooperative multiplayer, sees our intrepid janitorial heroes conquering over 50 levels spread across five unique worlds.

Shiftlings is expected to arrive on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Windows PC in spring 2015. See the announcement trailer below.

Ken and Roberta Williams honored and new King's Quest trailer revealed!

At the Game Awards Show 2014 in Las Vegas, Ken and Roberta Williams were honored with the Industry Icon Award! Introduced by Neil Druckmann from Naughty Dog Studios and following a beautiful tribute to Sierra as a pioneer in the gaming industry, Ken and Roberta came on stage to accept the award in person, gave a speech and thanked the fans. Both appeared very touched by how their legacy still lives so strongly after all these years. It was also a very special and emotional moment for us, Sierra fans, many who followed the event live and commented on the Facebook page of Sierra Chest and Sierra Gamers.

Roberta apologized for not having a new game under development (it's been over 15 years since Mask of Eternity), but then introduced Matt Korba and Lindsey Rostal from The Odd Gentlemen, designers of the new King's Quest. Matt Korba, the lead designer, also gave a speech, stressing how important it is to the development team to have Ken and Roberta's blessing, and gave gamers worldwide a first look at the new King's Quest.

You can see the entire tribute and King's Quest trailer in the video below.

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