Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter

aka: SQ1, Space Quest, Space Quest 1, Star Quest
DOS Specs [ all ]
Buy on Amiga
Buy on Apple II
Buy on Apple IIgs
Buy on DOS

Description official descriptions

Roger Wilco is one of the most important men on the starship Arcada: he is the janitor! Just when he was doing what he does best (dozing off in a closet), the shrill sound of an alarm penetrated the air. Arcada is attacked by the evil Sariens! Before Roger realizes what is going on, he discovers that he is the only survivor. The Sariens have killed the entire crew and stolen the valuable Star Generator. Roger's immediate task is to find a way to leave Arcada, which is about to explode in fifteen minutes. And then he'll have to show the Sariens why they should never mess with brave intergalactic janitors!

Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter is a humorous sci-fi adventure game made with Sierra's AGI engine. The gameplay is similar to that of King's Quest: the player navigates Roger around with arrow keys and interacts with the game world by typing commands. There are puzzles to solve and plenty of situations where the player will have to use his wit to save Roger from death.

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Credits (DOS version)

7 People

  • Two Guys From Andromeda
Interpreter / Development System
Graphics / Artwork



Average score: 69% (based on 13 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 136 ratings with 5 reviews)

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.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2012

Wildly funny, yet frustrating enough to buy a hint book

The Good
Sierra did know how to make good bucks with their technology. They mixed a lot of different themes with their adventure games, and I guess that almost everybody had at least one Quest that they liked. Mine was Space Quest with its wicked sci-fi humor.

The two guys from Andromeda showed us that adventure games didn't need to be serious to be enjoyable. Space Quest, without being a total joke, was funny and refreshing. It was even funnier to play it two at a time, since new jokes popping up could be laughed even louder. Imagine the initial storyline: you're a janitor doing an on-shift nap in a closet and the first thing you know when you wake up is that your ship has been abducted by enemies from another planet. Now, it is time to get the hell out of there and save the world!

Technically, this game didn't have much more than King's Quest I and II. However, the designers managed to program a lame action sequence using Sierra's AGI interpreter. This at least showed that the AGI could be used for more than a graphical text parser and that might have spawned some other projects such as Manhunter. The graphics, while having a really low resolution (I think it was something like 160x200, a PCjr limitation) were colorful and nice for their time.

The Bad
I don't know if Sierra wanted to push the sales of their hint books (which by the way used a special ink that disappeared over the years, making them a less useful collection item), but this game was really hard, at least by my standards of the time. I just can't see how I could have had the patience to finish it without the book.

Until LucasArts got it right with their "adventures in which you could go back and don't die", Space Quest suffered from the lack of flexibility most adventure games had in this era. That means that you ended up dying for stupid reasons without warning, and that could be frustrating. That also means that if you messed something up early in the game, you might not find out about it before hours of gameplay.

For example, if you forget to get a cartridge on the spaceship when the game starts (for which you need to know a password given by scientist who shows up out of pure random luck), you won't be able to use it around the middle of the game and you'll be stuck. Of course, all your saved games until then will be crap, so you then have to replay from the beginning all over again. Ah, well...

One last thing: there is a part in the game in which you need to play slot machine in order to have enough bucks to buy yourself a spacecraft. No, you can't buy the cheapest one, try it out and you'll understand shy. This is the long and boring part of the game, as you have to play a while (and save your game often) in order to win enough. I really would have liked an option to bypass that useless sequence.

The Bottom Line
No matter its problems, this game is worth it.

Space Quest fans must try it out. It started the whole series and while it is certainly not the best, it gives you an idea of what Mark and Scott were up to back when they started. It is also an interesting alternative to those who dislike the medieval theme of King's Quest. Just don't leave the spaceship without the cartridge!

DOS · by Olivier Masse (443) · 2001

One of Sierra's best(THE best Sierra game IMO)

The Good
The sense of humor is very good, but there's just enough seriousness for the game to feel like a genuine story of a humble, somewhat lazy and clumsy man who is forced to fight for survival and then ends up with a shot at beating the enemy and saving his race. Space Quest:The Sarien Encounter and Police Quest:In Pursuit of the Death Angel were just about sharing the top of my list of Sierra's best games, but now I'd have to put Space Quest above Police Quest. So I guess I like playing the role of a very average person who grows into a hero. Sonny Bonds in Police Quest is similar, he's supposed to be a 15 year veteran(as Jim Walls was I believe), but you get the sense that he's a rather average cop at the start of the game, not particularly favoured by his superiors. It can be great to play the role of someone who is a tough hero right at the start of the game, but I liked playing the role of someone who was a rookie in heroism, like a lot of gamers would be.

Another thing I like about Space Quest is its division into three parts , like 3 stages i.e your home space station, planet Kerona and the enemy battle cruiser, which I suppose makes it feel more like an arcade game and I loved arcade games before adventure games.

The Bad
I liked a lot of the problem solving, but there are some puzzles that drag the game down a bit, the worst being the gambling at Ulence Flats Bar(there is actually a code phrase cheat that makes you win every time). But even in the Arcade at the start, I felt that the keycard required to escape was a little too randomly placed. Other puzzles were interesting and probably worth the effort. The skimmer challenge, dodging rocks, is quite difficult, though there are a couple of strategies to make it easier.

The Bottom Line
My opinion is that it's Sierra's best game, not only that, the best adventure game ever, better than any I've played by LucasArts, Revolution Software, MicroProse and all the rest. Of course the game was made fairly early in the timeline of computer adventure games, but I think it has a heart and soul that the more visually and sonically impressive adventure games don't have.

DOS · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2018

[ View all 5 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Space Quest Collection readme file MerlynKing Feb 28th, 2021
Anyone knows what that plant is for? General Error (4320) May 31st, 2007


Vohaul's first name is referred to as "Slash" in Space Quest 1. In subsequent episodes, it was changed to "Sludge".

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  • ScummVM
    supports the DOS, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari ST and Apple IIgs versions of Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter under Windows, Linux, Macintosh and other platforms.
  • Space Quest Treasure Trove
    Your key to the Golden Mop lies here! This site provides a complete graphical walkthrough for Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter.
  • SpaceQuest.Net - Space Quest 1 Story
    The most comprehensive site about Space Quest 1, both EGA and VGA versions: Basic game information, hints (with scans of the official hint book), documentation (downloadable PDF manual), demos and even design sketches.

Identifiers +


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Olivier Masse.

Amiga added by POMAH. Apple II added by Guy Chapman. Macintosh added by Servo. Apple IIgs added by Garcia. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Unicorn Lynx, Jeanne, Jayson Firestorm, General Error, Macs Black, henck de beredoder.

Game added May 12th, 1999. Last modified August 14th, 2023.