Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter

aka: SQ1VGA, Space Quest 1: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter, Space Quest Chapter One: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter
DOS Specs [ all ]
Buy on Amiga
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(prices updated 9/30 9:35 AM )

Description official description

Space Quest 1: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter is a remake of the original release of Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter. The new version has enhanced graphics (256 color VGA) and soundblaster support. It uses the SCI game engine (point-and-click interface, icons along the top) rather than the AGI engine (mixed point-and-click with text parser). Some of the puzzles have been slightly changed to accommodate the new interface and it is also possible to skip the arcade part. There are a few additional scenes and more elaborate text descriptions, mostly enhancing the humorous effect.


  • Space Quest Chapter 1: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter - Alternate in-game title spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

40 People (38 developers, 2 thanks) · View all



Average score: 70% (based on 15 ratings)


Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 61 ratings with 4 reviews)

Outsmart fierce Orats on your way to Ulence Flats!

The Good
Back in 1986, King's Quest was still the hottest (actually, the only) "3D" adventure series on the market. Things began to change when two Sierra employees, utilizing the same template that brought the miraculous Daventry escapades to life, created a humorous take on the formula, dubbing their creation Space Quest. This was the first challenge to King Quest's dominance, and the starting point of the first series of humorous graphical adventures in history.

Space Quest is more than just a sci-fi variant of the older franchise. First of all, its tone is quite different, relying much more on the silly extravagance of Zork than on the mild, kid-friendly style of Roberta Williams' flagship series. Taking cues from popular sci-fi movies, Space Quest is a merry melange of cliches, pop culture references, and genuine elements of an adventurous space saga, happily embracing the goofiness of exotic monsters creeping beneath planet surfaces and aliens playing slot machines in bars.

The humor is indeed one of the main selling points of the game. The entire premise of the game is humorous: instead of a familiar valiant adventurer, you control a lazy janitor who survives an alien onslaught only thanks to his own incompetence. Your actions aren't commented upon as dryly and matter-of-fact as in King's Quest. On the contrary, the omniscient narrator has quite a lot of ironic and sarcastic comments at his disposal, and the game's text descriptions are one of the chief reasons for its humorous impact. Another one, of course, are the famous death scenes. You could die in King's Quest, but it was never really funny. Space Quest is actually the first Sierra game that started truly focusing on black humor accompanying the many possible failures of the hapless hero.

Another thing Space Quest brought to adventure game design is tight scripting. King's Quest games had assorted hazards and random character appearances, but for the most part they were free-roaming games with much of the playable area available right at the beginning. I usually prefer that design philosophy, but Space Quest, being a comedy, needed more events, more focused storytelling. It is considerably more linear, but it makes up for that with its variety of locations and a continuous string of occurrences that contribute to the feeling of being on a grand journey. It was probably the earliest adventure game with real setpieces, dramatic happenings, and suspenseful atmosphere.

The game starts with a tense, nerve-tickling sequence: you must figure out how to escape from a doomed spaceship within the allotted time limit. Afterwards, you travel to a desert planet where hazards abound and where only your wit can help you in your confrontation against ferocious monsters, environmental dangers, and bad weather. Then you relax for a while at a civilized outpost, shopping in places such as Droids-B-Us and listening to live bands in the local bar, before you infiltrate an alien ship and use cunning and disguise to reach your ultimate objective. As you can see, this is a real story divided into several clearly defined, contrasting episodes, each with its own ambiance and style of playing. You may like this more or less than the open-ended King's Quest, but this type of experience was fresh, exciting, and quite influential in the long run.

The version I'm reviewing here is a remake. I rarely favor remakes over original versions, except in the case of those wonderful VGA games Sierra released in the early 1990's. The new version of Space Quest has everything the older game had, with the addition of lovely graphics, MIDI soundtrack, excellent interface, and even a few enhancements: there are more elaborate text descriptions and more varied feedback to your actions. Undeniably, this is the definitive version of the game.

The Bad
Space Quest is fairly short and simple. Paradoxically, the game owes much of its life span to death sequences. Once you figure out how to avoid them, you discover there isn't that much left to do. In fact, almost the entire game is based on various situations where a deviation from the prescribed path leads to the hero's untimely demise. If you decide to replay the game, you'll notice how easy some of its puzzles actually are. The game smartly uses the ever-present lethal dangers to make you panic and cloud your judgment, but when you know what to do it becomes just a matter of a few simple actions to solve any problem.

Granted, you could complete early King's Quest games very fast as well if you knew what you were doing, and death traps played a role there too. But part of the experience in those games was gradually uncovering their worlds, familiarizing yourself with the structure, looking for convenient paths, shortcuts, etc. Space Quest is much more straightforward: locations change dynamically without a "hub" area of any kind. They felt the need to sacrifice open-ended design to its scripted nature, but perhaps there could be a way to have both. You can get stuck in the game if you failed to collect a particular item in an area that has since become inaccessible - some people hate this design element, but at least it forces you to be careful and spend a bit more time in every place you visit.

Like some other Sierra games, the remake of Space Quest suffers from compatibility issues. On faster computers, Roger is always thirsty on Kerona's surface. If you don't react extremely quickly, three messages appear one after the other at head-spinning speed, killing the hero outright and ruining his vacation plans on the gorgeous 256-colored orange planet. Slowdown utilities and tampering with BIOS cache may solve this problem, but I wonder how they overlooked so many programming quirks.

The Bottom Line
Space Quest is hardly the most fulfilling adventure game in history; it is probably not even the most interesting and rewarding experience within the series its started. And yet, it is a strong beginning of a future janitorial space saga, one of the first graphical comedy adventures around, and a pioneer of tightly scripted, suspenseful, imaginative, humorous games we've come to love and enjoy.

DOS · by Unicorn Lynx (180489) · 2014

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.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43051) · 2014

A fun game, a pretty good remake

The Good
One of the neat things about Sierra's remakes is that each one gave the game a new artistic flair. This one tried to go for a retro sci-fi feel, like a 50's cheapo flick. That doesn't exactly work, but the art is still pretty well done, and gives the game a goofy personality. The same goes for the music, the opening credit sequence is very well done, and the Space Quest main theme that plays during it is very well done. The puzzles for this game were fairly well done for the AGI version, and there isn't much of a deviation this time around, and they managed to hold up over time so, its good in that respect as well.

The Bad
As to be expected of an AGI (Sierra's original adventure game engine, what this game originally was in) remake its pretty short, since the original was short. Playing this makes me wonder why they didn't bother making it an 'expanded remake' or something to that effect, because all this great art and music is almost wasted on a fairly short game.

This game isn't as funny as its successors, either, and there isn't any real character interaction until midway through the game. There are a few laughs here and there, but its more of a light hearted adventure than a rollicking comedy in the tradition of Monkey Island.

This game also has a fairly jarring start. You show up on a spaceship, and if you don't move right, you die. Certainly, its fairly easy to avoid the Sariens, but if you're someone not used to Sierra's policy of millions of deaths for everything, there should have been some gameplay before troops are shooting at you.

The Bottom Line
A fun little game with nice graphics and music, and fairly easy puzzles. Its a fun diversion, and a reminder of a time when Sierra was one of the finest developers around. The game isn't incredible, but it doesn't really present itself as such. Its worth a weekend.

DOS · by Benjamin Vigeant (7) · 2005

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Mail order HunterZ0 (16) Aug 9th, 2009



Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter was available in four different packages. A 16 color version (supported EGA, MCGA, VGA and Tandy/PCjr) with either DD 3.5" or HD 5.25" disks and a 256 color version (supported MCGA and VGA) with either HD 3.5" or HD 5.25" disks.

The game was also made available to customers via a special mail-order offer, and some or all of these were shipped in boxes from the original 1986 version.


  • The reference to King's Quest in which Roger Wilco would crash land into Daventry by pressing a button on the escape pod has been changed for the remake. You now crash into the outskirts of Nottingham Castle, as featured in Conquests of the Longbow: The Legend of Robin Hood. Furthermore, all references to King's Quest on dialogues have been removed.

  • As a parody of all the instant replay hype in the pro-sports world at the time, two of the funnier deaths in the game feature a replay with commentary from the Two Guys, complete with pseudo-chalk markings on the screen.

ZZ Top

ZZ Top made a cameo appearance in the bar on Cameo. ZZ Top threatened to sue and therefore they were removed from later releases of the game. Mark Crowe:

The ZZ Top thing was a problem for us. Somehow after a couple of years they found out about their satirical cameo appearance. Even though we didn't portray them in any bad light, someone there had no sense of humor about it. We then got one of those real solid envelopes in the mail with return address overloaded with names of supposed importance, at least in their eyes. The policy decision at Sierra was that it is easier to make a change to the game rather than go to court and spend a bunch of shark money (legal fees -ed) even if we were found to be within our rights. We do have free speech in this country, but it ain't cheap.

Information also contributed by Indra was here, WizardX and Zovni.

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Related Sites +

  • Space Quest 1 comic book!
    Downloads of all 3 issues of Malibu Comics' 1992 adaptation of SQ1 in comic book form: "The Adventures of Roger Wilco." (Written by John Shaw and Paul O'Connor, released under the Adventure Comics imprint.)
  • Space Quest Downloads
    A site with several Space Quest-related materials, including a copy of the Space Quest FAQ.
  • SpaceQuest.Net - Space Quest 1
    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.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Donny K..

Amiga added by POMAH. Macintosh added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: Trixter, MAT, Roedie, Servo, Katakis | カタキス, Sciere, Pseudo_Intellectual, General Error, formercontrib, HunterZ0, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger.

Game added August 9th, 1999. Last modified August 27th, 2023.