Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter (DOS)

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Written by  :  *Katakis* (37914)
Written on  :  Feb 24, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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How a simple four-room demo turned into an excellent space adventure

The Good

Back in the Eighties, Sierra introduced us to their popular King's Quest adventure game series, with their next series being Space Quest. This would not have gone ahead had Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe (dubbed "The Two Guys from Andromeda") not programmed a four-room demo that impressed Sierra's CEO at the time. I'm not sure if the Two Guys intended to create more than one game, but this first one was successful enough that they decided to make the sequel.

The game centers around Roger Wilco, a space janitor who is stationed on the starship Arcada, where a device known as the Star Generator is undergoing testing. This device is designed to generate a sun that would replace the one on Earnon, a galaxy whose sun is slowly dying. An evil race known as the Sariens find out about the Star Generator, and get on board the Arcada and successfully take it under Wilco's watch. The device must be retrieved before the Sariens use it to conquer the galaxy.

I could not believe how impressive the title looks. Both the red outline used to create the title and the star background inside it blend well with each other. The quality of the graphics throughout the game reminds you, just like other games in the series, that this is purely a sci-fi adventure game set in outer space. The characters you meet through the game are alien-like figures, as you would expect. Most of them are unfriendly to Roger but at least they can be used to his advantage. Out of all the characters in the game, I found the spider droid on Kerona a bit scary. The way it looks and the way its animated is rather disturbing.

The music is brilliantly composed, and it serves as the theme tune for most of the Space Quests. I enjoyed listening to the music that was playing at the Ulence Flats bar, which sounds excellent coming from the Tandy speaker. Sure it is crap today, but the speaker was standard for its time. Also, unlike other adventure games from Sierra, there can be different music playing each time you enter the same scene. When you leave the aforementioned bar, for example, then come back in, you get to hear the likes of The Blues Brothers or ZZ Top.

I like the way that the game provides alternate solutions to puzzles, much like its cousin. The first one of these happen when Roger has landed on Kerona. I enjoyed solving one puzzle, then going back and solving that same puzzle in a different way. Some alternate solutions may not be the best, giving you less points than the other way. But I don't play for points.

The game is packed with humor. Not only are there funny ways to die, but to get past most obstacles in the game, Roger must do things that are quite unexpected by the player. Who would know that you can kill anybody with a water bottle? Also, there are unusual things happening in most scenes, like the slot machine that causes death to the player if they make a specific win. Finally, try kissing one of the Sarien guards. This type of humor continues in every SQ game.

The Bad

I have to agree with everyone here. Space Quest is a humorous sci-fi adventure game, so forcing the player to use a slot machine to try to win a hundred buckazoids not only is difficult without losing a lot of money or dishing up three skulls. Then there's the skimmer trek to Ulence Flats. These two aspects of the game not only are unnecessary, but a waste of time as well.

The Bottom Line

The Two Guys' first adventure game is not only entertaining, but excellent as well, packing good graphics and sound. In addition, it provides plenty of humor and multiple solutions to puzzles. The only drawback is the slot machine and skimmer arcade sequence, but other than this, Space Quest is worth playing at least once.