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Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter (DOS)

77
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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.8
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Written by  :  *Katakis* (37848)
Written on  :  Mar 13, 2003
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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Summary

It's Space Quest, now in gorgeous 256 colors!

The Good

Sierra has made some good games in the mid-Eighties, starting with the legendary King's Quest series, but as the Nineties rolled on by, the company decided that it would update their old games to SCI as part of their 10th anniversary. This meant getting rid of the text parser interface and replacing it with the new point-and-click interface and adding mouse support.

Now Space Quest I gets the remake treatment. If you haven't brought a PC before 1990, then you would be familiar with this version. The player assumes the role of Roger Wilco, a space janitor working on the spaceship Arcada. He is responsible for maintaining the Star Generator, a device that provides the only chance of restoring the galaxy to its normal state, but the effects would be fatal if it fell into the wrong hands. An evil alien race, known as the Sariens, knew this. While Roger was sleeping in the broom closet, they infiltrate Roger's ship, kill everyone on board, and steal the device. To make matters worse, they initiated the self-destruct sequence.

Roger emerges from the broom closet, wondering what just happened. He has the ten minutes to escape the Arcada. From there, his adventures continue on the sand planet Kerona, where he has to seek transportation to an alien settlement called Ulence Flats. There, he has to do some business so that he can afford further transportation to the Deltaur, where he has to infiltrate the Sarien spaceship.

Sierra added some nice touches to the game. For example, there are some multi-colored credits in the introduction that look amazing. Some other nice touches include an android skimming to the other side of the screen, followed by a computerized voice saying the ship he is on is about to self-destruct.

There are over 100 hand-painted scenes, and these look really good when I owned a 486, they almost took my breath away. Obviously, I can't name every scene I like, but two scenes that I admired is the underground cave on Kerona, as well as the ending scene where Roger is giving the golden mop. All of the animations are good and smooth.

The music is also amazing, and it really blends in with what you are doing. I enjoyed listening to the music while you're playing the arcade sequence, where you have to dodge rocks on the way to Ulence Flats. All the music in the game is impressive when using the Roland MT-32 sound module. The sound effects are right up there with the likes of cartoons set in the future.

Even though Space Quest I delivers the same sort of humor as its EGA cousin, the remake knocks it up a notch. It introduces the smell and taste icons (similar to the ones in Space Quest IV), designed to generate a humorous response if you click them on different objects on the screen. Also there are a couple of deaths that I like. I'm not going to spoil them, but they trigger an amusing an “Instant Replay” segment. Then of course, buying the wrong droids on Ulence Flats provides some interesting results.

Just as the EGA version of Space Quest uses disk-based copy protection, the VGA version has its own in the form of documentation that you need to look up very early in the game – in order to get a cartridge, and failing to get it will make the game unwinnable. You have to look at that same documentation again just before you get to your final destination in the game.

The Bad

Apart from the game being too short, Space Quest I suffers from a bunch of timer-related issues. For instance, you can't last five seconds on Kerona without dying of dehydration. If you decide to run the game through Windows with the Sound Blaster enabled, don't. From my experience, you will get nothing but static and the game ends up suffering from instability.

The Bottom Line

I got my first PC back in 1992 but the first look at Space Quest I wasn't the remake, but the original EGA one. I only got to experience the remake much later, and comparing that with the original version, it is amazing to see how the remake improved things. Not only do you get gorgeous VGA graphics and sound card support, you can also see that the humor has been extended with the addition of the look and taste icons, the “instant replay” segments, and the funny dialogue overall. If a CD-ROM version of Space Quest I had been released, then it would have likely feature Gary Owens as the narrator. If only it had been released.