Roger Wilco’s Janitorial Log #2 - After escaping from the destroyed city, I managed to snag myself one of Sludge Vohaul’s time pods. With a bit of luck, I found myself in Space Quest XII, a strange aquatic world filled with dinosaurs, sea slugs, and very attractive women. Me-from-the-future used to date one of them (go me!), but I seem to be stuck in the friend zone now. I saved her life and now she wants to go shopping? Perhaps my leaving makes sense after all...
|Roger admires the view while we have a little chat...|
A Change in Plans: SQ4 Bugs
In my last post on Space Quest IV, I died a lot. More than a lot, actually. It was pretty much wall-to-wall death there for a while and that wasn’t very fun for me and also probably not all that much fun to read. Several posters commented on that as being part of a “timer” issue with the specific version of SQ4 that I am playing, the GOG.com version which is based on the CD-ROM version from 1992. There was some debate whether this problem was real or just because of faster computers, so I decided to get to the bottom of the situation through experimentation.
Searching the seedier corners of the internet, I located a download of the original floppy version of Space Quest IV and spent a few minutes playing it up to the beginning of my wall-to-wall deaths, to the point where I emerged from the manhole to try to sneak into the policemen’s aircraft.
|Memories... I saw this screen a lot last post.|
I lined up “identical” saved games in the GOG/CD-ROM version as the floppy version, ensured that the DosBox settings were exactly the same between the two of them, and checked the setting for game speed in the SQ4 control panel. With everything exactly the same, I confidently strolled out into this screen in both games and watched my fate unfold.
In the version that I have been playing, Roger is shot by the Sequel Police in around eight seconds after walking into the screen.
In the floppy version, Roger has 50 seconds before he is shot, plus he has a few seconds after the police arrive before they shoot.
A difference of a couple seconds could have been the developers increasing the difficulty level, but a 6x difference in time cannot be anything but a bug. If that is the case, it is a bug that all modern players have to deal with as the original version of SQ4 is no longer available. (Commenter Gregory Brown points out that a fan-made patch for this problem can be found here.)
So what does that mean for me? I am going to switch to the floppy version of the game, but not until sometime during or after the next post. This has the advantage of being a more “true” 1991 experience. Depending on whether I see any differences, I might do a fast recap or just continue the narrative uninterrupted. Either way, this post is based on the GOG version that I was playing before. We’ll figure out what this switch means for the PISSED rating when we get there.
Enough of this nonsense. Let’s get back to the game.
|Time to explore!|
At the end of the last post, Roger had boarded the Sequel Police aircraft and used it to sneak into Vohaul’s base. Once the ship lands and the guards leave, play resumes and we are able to explore. I first check out the ship, see if there is anything I can do with it here that I could not back in the city. Again, I am struck by how much simpler the icon interface is for doing things you don’t actually intend: “using” the ship causes Roger to board it again, the guards come, and we are whisked back to the planet’s surface. It seems that I can re-explore the first area at my leisure, but I do not find anything new or obvious that I missed. I do run into one of the zombies by accident, my first death of the post!
I restore back to the hangar deck and explore Sludge’s fortress. I’ll go right, first!
|Round doors... is Vohaul a hobbit?|
On the right side of the hangar deck is a round door with a keypad lock of some kind on it. Unfortunately, it is also well-guarded and I do not see a way to get there right now. Even with my speed turned all the way up, I am shot on sight. Death #2. Nothing to do here, so let’s head the other way.
|Did you know Infamous Adventures (the guys behind "Quest for Infamy") did a fan-remake of Space Quest II? Maybe we'll play it when we get to 2011.|
The left side of the hangar is more promising: a police dispatch station. One guard stands beside a time pod, but as Roger moves into the screen a second pod appears. A sequel policeman steps out of that pod and distracts the first guard with his report. (He had been looking for me in Space Quest II.) This looks to be a great moment to sneak into the just-arrived time machine. I use my handy “hand” icon and moments later Roger is sitting in his very own time machine!
|You know, this ship seems smaller on the inside.|
Did I miss something in my exploration of the city? or of the base? I did not find any time coordinates, so how to do I know where to go? I press the button by the window to leave the pod, but then I remember that there are guards outside. Death #3 comes quickly and painlessly. I restore the game.
Is this copy protection? Some other puzzle? I search the manual for time codes; I even read all of the advertisements! There are a ton of places listed in the “Galaxy Galleria Mall”, but not one of the ads provides coordinates for the mall. I remember being in a mall when I played this game as a kid, so I must be going there eventually. But perhaps not yet? This is where a distant memory pinged off my brain, but I am embarrassed to say that I probably would not have figured it out without that: there is no time code here. If I enter gibberish codes enough times, Roger will stumble on one that works and get the heck out of there. I try that and sure enough, a few seconds later Roger is traveling through time!
|...and ruby and olive and violet and fawn|
And lilac and gold and chocolate and mauve...
|Are we there.. oh... yeah, we're here.|
|She's actually just pointing at the screen and making fun of me.|
I head back up the stairs. The tense music is still playing. I get the sense that someone is watching me. And then this happens:
|It's a bird... It's a plane... No... actually, yes, it's a bird. Mostly.|
A few moments later, the creature’s nest comes into view and I am dropped into it, shaken but not stirred. A sequel policeman, dropped seconds later, is not so lucky: he is impaled on a sharp branch and dies instantly. This is a comedy, right? I keep forgetting.
|Why does this seem familiar?|
|King's Quest V did have more interesting camera angles at times.|
I search the rest of the nest but find nothing except a path down… by falling. Just when I expect to see yet another death screen, I land in the water and survive. Whew! As soon as I break the surface, I am surrounded: the titular Latex Babes have arrived. They are armed and they have a submarine. The submarine is really the coolest part.
|Uhh... take me to your leader?|
|Victory or Sovngarde!|
|Wait... you aren't a babe.|
Okay. I can breathe. Let me try again.
|It's as if the Bond girls all chipped in together and got themselves their own evil lair.|
|This doesn't look so bad.|
|In retrospect, shaving seems nice.|
Now that I am out of the chair, I could either fight or run. I should have run to see how the monster would have killed me, but in the heroism of the moment I looked for a better way. Right near the chair, there were pressurized containers of some sort, probably oxygen or fuel tanks. I pick one up and use it on the monster, but I do not seem to do it in time. I die a martyr’s death. That makes five this post.
I restore and the next time around, I am able to push the exploding something or another into the monster’s mouth, blowing it up from the inside. It has a well-animated cartoon death and I revel in my victory. The monster slinks back into the ocean and the Latex Babes come out of hiding, acclaiming me as their hero. We apparently agree to just be friends (poor Roger) and before I know it, I’ve agreed to go shopping with the ladies. God help me.
|Some days, you wish you never crawled out of your algae pool.|
|Yes. Yes I was.|
Deaths: 5 (39 total), not counting the several during my version testing Inventory: Pocket Pal (with battery), Unstable Ordnance, Bunny (sans Battery), Jar of Goo, and one (?) Buckazoid, Gum Wrapper
Total time: 4:35
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 points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!
Science Fiction References Contest!
Andy_Panthro has kindly agreed to donate a game to the commenter that posts the most obscure sci-fi reference that they can find in Space Quest IV. Man, this is a game series that just takes and adapts science fiction, so it should be a lot of fun to find the little elements that I suspect I am missing. Is the sea monster from some Japanese monster movie? Are the futuristic zombies adapted from a book? Does Roger’s uniform strongly resemble one from a certain popular series? These answers or similar might win you a game, so I hope you participate.