Space Quest V: The Next Mutation

aka: Roger Beamish, SQ5, Space Quest 5: Die nächste Mutation, Space Quest 5: La Mutation Suivante, Space Quest 5: La Siguiente Mutación
Moby ID: 144

Description official descriptions

After travelling back and forth through time in the previous game, Roger Wilco is back in the Starfleet Academy, serving as both a cadet and a janitor. Cheating his way through the Starfleet Aptitude Test, Roger is finally given the rank of captain, his own ship (a garbage scow) and a mission: to explore strange new worlds (which no man in his right mind would explore), to seek out new life and new civilizations (which grew out of the massive amounts of trash Roger will collect on his way), to boldly go where no man has gone before. Step by step Roger will have to unveil a galaxy-wide biohazardous material dumping scheme, solve the mystery of the disappearance of a fellow Starfleet captain and his ship, and confront an agent of an old nemesis.

Space Quest V: The Next Mutation is an adventure game in the Space Quest series. Like its brethren, it is characterized by humorous writing and situations, as well as plenty of opportunities for the hero to die horribly. The game is entirely mouse-controlled: the player interacts with the world by clicking on locations, people and objects on the screen, cycling between various actions (walking, looking, touching or taking, talking, etc.), by clicking the right mouse button or using the icon bar. The latter also contains icons that allow the player to access Roger's inventory, quit the game or change the settings.

Commands for smelling and tasting have been removed, but a special icon for giving orders has been added. It can be used on any object or character in the game, but its actual purpose is to issue specific commands to the crew members: Roger's garbage scow, the Eureka, has a crew over which he presides. The game is plot-driven and contains cutscenes done in a comic book-like style. Plot development is linear, but each planet the protagonist visits usually consists of several screens and contains its own objectives and puzzles. There are also hazardous situations that may occur on the spaceship itself and must be dealt with.

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Credits (DOS version)

56 People (54 developers, 2 thanks) · View all

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Reviews

Critics

Average score: 83% (based on 16 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 85 ratings with 6 reviews)

The weakest Space Quest tries to be an all-out Trek spoof.

The Good
Um. Not much. Some of the graphics were pretty. And the space monkey bit was funny.

The Bad
Besides the fact it generally sucked? The humor was all but gone in this one, or at least the sarcastic one-liners which, for me, was the heart of Space Quest. It's left as a rather lame parody of Trek, trying to illicit chuckles with characters like the villianous "Captain Quirk." Har Har. Seeing Rog do the "Picard Tug" once when getting out of his seat is funny. Seeing him do it EVERY TIME he stands up gets old. Gameplay was equally shallow and uninvolving, broken up by some inane pseudo-arcade sequences that are just there to pad out the game. (the worst being one where you have an extremely limited amount of time to pick up a crewman stranded in space)

The Bottom Line
It should tell you something when this was one of the few Sierra games of its time for which they didn't shell out the money to do a talkie CD. Definately the low point in the series, and best skipped by all but the most die-hard Wilcoids.

DOS · by WizardX (116) · 2000

Without a doubt, the best Space Quest

The Good
One thing I always thought Space Quest was lacking was characters. Sure, SQ4 had a few, SQ2 had Vohaul, and you could probably make a case for the other two as well, but none of them really have characters who Roger spends a long amount of time with. In this, Roger has Flo, Droole, Cliffy, and to a lesser extent WD-40 to keep him company, and they all have relatively interesting back stories, as well as are quite funny. Quirk is a decent villain, and Bea makes for an excellent love interest. As far as the goofy humor, it is pretty well done, from the quiz at the beginning (some of the questions were quite funny) to the final scenes, there were quite a few interesting jokes, a lot of them quite visual. The puzzles in this game were fairly well done, especially those in Kiz-Urazgudbi (which I won't give away the solution to).

The Bad
A fairly long maze at the end, and the fact that it was too short. In fact, the game gives a feeling of being unfinished, or at least rushed. The beginning and middle are fairly well designed, and keep a good pace, but once you get to the end game sequence there is a long maze and one or two other puzzles. The game doesn't provide enough resolution, either.

The Bottom Line
An excellent comedy adventure, which has a rushed ending.

DOS · by Benjamin Vigeant (7) · 2005

Janitorial romance

The Good
Space Quest V occupies a somewhat unique position within its series. One of the two famed "guys from Andromeda", Mark Crowe, collaborated with his new colleagues at Dynamix to create the only adventure in any of Sierra's major series not to be developed in-house. The result is a rather noticeable change of tone and pace, which has its ups and downs, with the former outweighing the latter in my opinion.

You can feel pretty clearly after a few playing sessions that this game is considerably less chaotic than its predecessors. Sierra's games generally tend to be erratic, moving from open exploration to tensely designed, confined areas; they are moody, rich in contrasts, and unpredictable. Space Quest V, on the other hand, is well-proportioned, well-structured, comfortably flowing forward at its own pace. There are less surprises in the game, but also less uneven occurrences and unpleasantly drastic changes.

That is not to say that Space Quest V has boring and predictable gameplay. On the contrary, it is actually richer and more involving than in the previous entries. The game doesn't have expansive non-linear areas, but every planet you visit presents several screens dedicated to some exploration and diverse activities. Some of the best setpieces include outsmarting a fearsome female terminator relentlessly chasing you through the mountain paths of a sunny planet, and turning into a fly in order to infiltrate a lab concealing important evidence.

In a not-so-subtly implied Star Trek parody, Roger Wilco, the protagonist of the series, commandeers an extravagant garbage-collecting spaceship, complete with a crew, navigation screen with scientific mumbo-jumbo, rooms with different functions, etc. The ship will often get in trouble, and you'll have to use your resources and wits to solve various situations - such as bringing a crew member who is lost in space back onto the ship. Traveling to distant planets on your own accord (or at least within the frames of an overarching assignment) rather than being simply transported there for not very apparent reasons is what distinguishes this game's structure most from its predecessors.

In fact, it is safe to say that Space Quest V is the only installment in the series with a clearly outlined, logically developing plot. Participating in a cohesive narrative tying together the planetary and ship-bound setpieces creates a sense of belonging and also contributes to the growing tension, making you eager to press forward and find out how the whole thing ends. The game, therefore, feels considerably warmer than its rather emotionally detached predecessors, which were mostly focusing on raw adventuring and amusing situations. You don't get as many funny death scenes, but instead there are real characters you can care for. Not to mention that there is even a love story in this game, done in a somewhat comical, but nevertheless endearing and even heart-warming fashion.

The Bad
I can see why some fans of the series have problem with the fifth installment. No matter how good the game is, it does lack a certain intangible spirit permeating the earlier entries. It is a more focused and coherent comedy - but perhaps that's exactly the problem. Previous Space Quests were silly and nonsensical; but there was more of that wild, abundant energy that Sierra injected into their adventures. Even flaws such as cheap dead ends, disproportional segments, etc. somehow contributed to the charm. Space Quest V is by far more pleasant, and you can feel that sometimes it doesn't dare to be irreverent and wacky enough. Somehow I felt that the game tried too hard to stay within a certain style, to be an "accurate" Star Trek parody rather than just an assortment of bad jokes. It's good that the game tried to have its own style, but sometimes I missed the nonchalant, unrestricted fun of the previous titles.

It did, however, remain faithful to Sierra's notorious programming issues. The crewman-rescuing sequence quickly became unplayable on faster computers. Later all sorts of workarounds (slowdown software, disabling internal cache, etc.) were found, but imagine the pain this inflicted on the poor players whose computer was just too powerful, causing the crewman to shake in convulsions and die before the rescue crew could pull him out of that predicament. And the copy protection is, as always, annoying. You have to input coordinates every time you travel to another planet.

The Bottom Line
Is it the worst or the best Space Quest? Depends on how you look at it. Fans seem to be very divided over this particular installment because of priority differences. If witty one-liners and hilarious situations are what you expect most from these games, then this fifth iteration will probably moderately disappoint you. But if you value balanced gameplay and prefer softer, warmer comedy writing with real characters and a plot you could actually care for, Space Quest V would be just the right thing for you.

Personally, I find myself somewhere in the middle; but I have a feeling that, as I grow older, I get more and more inclined towards games like Space Quest V, and will some day probably consider it my favorite in the series.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (181778) · 2014

[ View all 6 player reviews ]

Trivia

Space Quest 5 is the second Sierra adventure game to feature product placement by the US-American telephone company Sprint. The first game was Leisure Suit Larry 5. Instead of text messages like in Larry 5, this time Sprint paid for graphic advertisement. The Sprint logo would end any communication transmissions, as well as appear on a billboard in the Space bar. See the screenshot section for examples.

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  • MobyGames ID: 144
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andy Roark.

Additional contributors: Tomer Gabel, -Chris, Benoit Lambert, Jeanne, Jayson Firestorm, Pseudo_Intellectual, General Error, 6⅞ of Nine.

Game added May 29, 1999. Last modified January 20, 2024.