Game 57: Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter (VGA remake) (1991) - Introduction

By Andy Panthro

That classic 90s Sierra logo!

Roger Wilco, our intrepid hero of both space and time returns... back to Space Quest 1! Again! Sometimes a location is so good you can't resist visiting it three times in five years. This time, we'll get to see the entire game in glorious 256-colour VGA, rather than just Ulence Flats. From what I remember from playing this not so long ago, other than the obvious visual and audio upgrades the game is basically the same as the original with a few minor changes. It's the first and only Space Quest game to get the official VGA upgrade, but there is a fan-made Space Quest 2 VGA game which I'm sure we'll get to in the distant future.

Were any of the other games referred to as "chapters"?

The Space Quest series is a firm favourite of mine, a wonderful mixture of science-fiction and humour that is not done often enough! (this series, Red Dwarf and Futurama being the most obvious examples I can think of, which have a number of similarities.) The game begins with an attack on the ship Arcada, of which Roger is perhaps the lowliest crew member. Woken from his slumber in a cosy janitorial closet by a rather loud alarm, he stumbles out to find the ship being boarded by Sariens, who are very much in the "shoot first, ask questions later" mindset.

"Encounter" sounds a little less hostile than the reality!

In my early years, playing the original, I found this initial section punishingly difficult. Sarien soldiers would appear all too quickly if you lingered in many of the rooms and corridors, and figuring out where to go and what to do was particularly challenging (it didn't help that I didn't have a manual to give me any background information!). These days it surely shouldn't present too much of a problem for me, unless I've forgotten something since the last time I finished it.

The Sarien ship stalks it's prey...

The first major change from the original game: Roger now has bright blonde hair, rather than his muddy brown from before. I can't actually remember why this is, perhaps just an advantage of having the extra colours? I'm sure it was mentioned in another Space Quest post, so answers in the comments please! The rest of the graphics are very well done, bright and colourful and with a cartoon-ish quality that suits what is a comedy game at heart.

Before beginning it's attack..

There's not a lot of music in this early section, the main audio being the alarm and the footsteps of approaching soldiers, but it's a vast improvement over the original (unless you're a fan of the rather limited sounds available to 1980s computers?). Sometimes less is more when it comes to game music though, and having no music and just ambient sounds can create a more tense atmosphere.

A rude awakening

I'm playing this on the Steam version of the game (well, sort of, I've copied the game into my normal dosbox directory), since the GOG.com version doesn't come with the VGA version for some reason. Hopefully I shouldn't have any issues with game speed, there is an arcade section but I think it can be skipped if I have any issues.

Unknown intruders? Didn't they watch the intro? They're Sariens!
So, beginning in the next post I'll see if I can get Roger out of this mess! No death count here though, I don't find it unfair to kill off the player character (most of the time), especially when you have the opportunity to save anywhere. I'll try and highlight a few of the more interesting death screens though.

Only 15 minutes to escape? Good thing I know this ship like the back of my hand!
Time for everyone to guess the score, and it will be interesting to see how the scores compare between this and the original, and also Space Quest IV which was released at a similar time.

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There's a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no CAPs will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. As this is an introduction post, it's an opportunity for readers to bet 10 CAPs (only if they already have them) that I won't be able to solve a puzzle without putting in an official Request for Assistance: remember to use ROT13 for betting. If you get it right, you will be rewarded with 50 CAPs in return. It's also your chance to predict what the final rating will be for the game. Voters can predict whatever score they want, regardless of whether someone else has already chosen it. All correct (or nearest) votes will go into a draw.

Post a Comment