Like I said before, we’ll continue our Sierra retrospective by going to SPAAAAAACE! More specifically, Space Quest I.
After the success of King’s Quest I, other game designers at Sierra started to play around with the AGI engine and two of them, Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy (you know, those Two Guys From Andromeda) designed a sci-fi comedy featuring a janitor as the protagonist.
Space Quest: Chapter I – The Sarien Encounter was originally released in 1986 for the Apple II, DOS and Atari ST and a year later for Amiga, Apple IIgs, Macintosh and a 2nd version for DOS.
This prompted at least 3 different covers:
While I do like the title lettering, the rest of this cover is very unimaginative. It looks more like a manual cover than box art. Also, “3-D animated”? I know this wasn’t the first or the last game of the time to claim it, but I wouldn’t call the ability to walk in front and behind background objects, exactly “3-D”.
But the second cover is sort of an improvement:
Again, I like the title and the space car, but the background is just empty. 3 flare effects imitating stars doesn’t exactly screams “SPAAAAAAACE”. And adding a screenshot at random doesn’t help.
Although there’s a variant cover that’s better:
Yes, much better. Although that space car doesn’t appear in the game, this looks like a proper sci-fi cover.
But enough star-gazing and time to boot this bantha:
As seen above, in a galaxy
far, far… several light-years away, Xenon’s sun is dying, so a Star Generator is created to revive it. You play as a janitor employed on the starlab Arcadia, where the Star Generator is being transported back to Xenon. But a group of evil aliens called the Sariens, board the ship, kill the crew and steal the Generator to use it as a weapon. You escape the massacre because you were asleep inside the store closet. Your mission is to escape Arcadia, find where the Sariens are hiding and stop their evil plans.
You can even name your character and if you leave it blank, your character’s default name is Roger Wilco.
Space Quest I is more linear compared with King’s Quest I and just as hard (the first 2 locations are infamously difficult). But one can say is no more difficult than any other Sierra AGI adventure title, but then again the real gem here is the humor.
And it’s quite funny, especially the death animations! Don’t forget to save before trying one.
The game is littered with several references to classic titles, sci-fi and otherwise. But again, the music is almost non-existent and the title theme is a bit grating on a PC speaker. And again, regarding this, the Apple IIgs version wins over all other versions.
There’s even a small arcade sequence that appears unexpectedly and it’s quite hard to master. I recommend reducing the game’s speed in order to make it easier.
The game isn’t too big, but still a solid experience. Like I said before, the first 2 locations are hard because you need to be always on the move and there are several traps and dangers to avoid, which are harder than the puzzles themselves. But it’s the slot machine located in the Ulence Flats bar that takes the cake. If you run out of credits or get 3 skulls, it’s game over! But spite that, Ulence Flats (the 3rd location) is still my favorite part of the entire game, ranging from the bar to the droid shop.
And like other titles, this one was also remade using the SCI1 engine.
Renamed Space Quest I: Roger Wilco and the Sarien Encounter, it was released in 1991 for DOS, Amiga and Tandy and a year later for Macintosh.
And check out this cover:
Instead of focusing on sci-fi imagery like the original covers, this one focus more on the comedy elements with 3 (presumably drunk) aliens partying with poor Roger.
And it shows:
Isn’t just the audio, the animation and the music that have been improved, the art style and new visual gags are more than welcoming sights. Almost everything is improved in the remake. There’s even more references included.
The new gags are funnier than ever, including a sports-type replay commentary from the Two Guys from Andromeda on some of Roger’s deaths.
The new art style is based on 50s sci-fi b-movies bringing a new visual presentation to the game fitting the comedy. Especially inside the Sarien ship!
While the game makes some parts easier in comparison with the original (like the slot machine and the arcade sequence), other parts have become harder (like avoiding the Sariens on board of the Arcadia).
But not only I strongly recommend this game, I also recommend the remake over the original version.
We’re now halfway through our retrospective and how are you enjoying it so far? Leave your comments below.
Next week, not only are we back on Earth but we’re going to take it to the streets.
Till then, keep on playing.