By Joe Pranevich
Nearly six months ago, I was asked by this blog
about my “favorite” adventure game. I remember thinking about that for a long time and answering that Quest for Glory IV was my favorite game now, but that as a kid I absolutely would have picked Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers. I played the hell out of this game as a youngster. I bought the floppy version shortly after it came out, loved it, then bought it again when it came out on CD. I must have played this game through a dozen times before I left for college. So why is it that I can remember almost nothing about it now?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I remember some things about the game. I remember time travel between different games rather than years and that at some point you visit “latex babes”. That is certainly something my teenage self would have latched onto and remembered. I recall a sequence in a futuristic shopping mall where I had to flip burgers to (I think) buy a hint book. I even remember that they changed the name of one of the stores in the CD version. When the latter came out, I remember loving the voice narration. But that’s it. I do not remember how this game starts. I do not remember how the game ends. I do not remember the puzzles. I suspect that I will remember more as playing jogs my memory, but for right now this is it. I am looking forward to rediscovering this game and, perhaps just as importantly, rediscovering what my younger self saw in it. I hope that I had good taste.
|Deliberate title confusion? Or just poor box design? |
For some fans, Space Quest IV is the last of the real Space Quest games because this is the last of the series to be designed by the Two Guys From Andromeda, Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy. They had collaborated on the Space Quest series since 1986, but after this game had some sort of falling out. More recently, they must have had a falling back in because they launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund a spiritual successor
called SpaceVenture. There would be two more Space Quest games made, but they only featured one “Guy From Andromeda” each: Mark on SQ5 and Scott on SQ6. That can be something that we talk about when we make it to 1993!
I think it is illuminating as we turn the pages of computer gaming history to look at the growing number of people it takes to make a game in 1991 versus just a few years prior. For example, Space Quest III boasted just five programmers (not counting those on the development system, which I assume are the folks creating the engine). SQ4 had nine. Perhaps more illuminating is that SQ3 did not credit any artists or animators, but SQ4 has a whopping fourteen team members just doing the art. There were three credited composers and sound effects artists in SQ4, but only one each in SQ3. I could keep going, but the point is that we have to expect a more polished product with exactly 2.8 times better art and 3 times better music. That is a mathematical fact.
|Nice. But still not as cool as a TARDIS.|
The manual for Space Quest IV is given to us in the form of a futuristic magazine filled with lots of fun advertisements and a few pertinent features. There is an interview with Roger Wilco as he catches up the reader on the events of Space Quests 1 through 3, a real ad for the SQ4 hint book intermingled with numerous fake ones, and a few other features. With all of that, there isn’t actually that much room for a manual in there. I suspect that some of the fun stuff will be useful in-game (and there is a brief walkthrough for players that are stuck in the first section), but there is nothing like King’s Quest V’s tutorial on how to navigate the new Sierra point-and-click interface here. Either they figured that the player could work that out him or herself (likely) or they just had so much fun coming up with ads for fake products that there wasn’t any room left. For my money, I’m just looking forward to discovering if anything I’ve read for the last fifteen minutes will matter when I’m actually playing the game.
|Hoverboards are real!|
For this playthrough, I will be using the GOG.com version of the game. After some research, this appears to be a DOS version of the CD-ROM re-release of the game. As that version was initially available only for Windows and has some problems on modern systems, this seems to be the best of both worlds. If you would like to play along with this version, it’s available now for around $10
and the bundle includes the fifth and sixth games as well!
Since I am playing the version that came out in 1992, rather than 1991, I will try not to bump the score too much for the vocal narration. If I have the option to turn it off and return to written captions only, I will do so after my first play post so that I can have a feel for the narration before I turn it off. I suspect that if I leave it on I will get frustrated by the speed: we read a lot faster than we can listen and I am an impatient person.
Enough writing! I am excited to play this game! It’s time to find out of me-from-the-past had better taste in games than he did in clothes.
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 20 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.
Rating: 55, like SQ 1 and 3?ReplyDelete
Looks like Roger has some seriously open hips in that cover art, must be doing space yoga.
I remember getting Space Quest 4 for my first decade birth day present. It was my first experience with a non-parser adventure game and I remember trying to type things, just to see, if something would happen. I played it till Christmas and couldn't get anywhere near the ending - and then I got a hint book as a Christmas present. I still occasionally see nightmares where I am trying to play some part of the game and the hints just don't make sense or don't work like they should be,ReplyDelete
Quite a lot of nostalgia with this one, and I am one of those who say that Space Quest never got better than this. I don't know if it was because Two Guys broke up, but somehow the later SQs just didn't feel the same - they had too much relationship drama, which didn't fit so well with the simple space opera parody that Space Quest was.
That said, Space Quest has always managed to be quite frustrating, with all the action sequences and root maze -style puzzles. I am pretty sure some of the sequences in SQ4 would drive me mad these days. I'm interested to see how it scores. Rest of the Space Quests have stayed in 50s, but perhaps this one will rise to 60s, with its improved graphics and interface? Let's say 61.
57, and I still own my copy in the original box. Loved it to pieces when it came out!ReplyDelete
I absolutely love this game, I must have played it a dozen times or more. The setting, humour, art and music are all great. I'd probably give it a really high score, but perhaps another might be a bit more harsh.ReplyDelete
It does have a few... interesting puzzles, but I don't think they are really that bad. I'm sure others will disagree though!
I'll give this a nice high 70.
Played this last year or so. Pretty cool concept but otherwise nothing really special. IIRC some puzzles suffered from Sierra Design Syndrome too. 59.ReplyDelete
I don't feel it ridiculous to say 64 or so. It's a good game which sucks you in, even if the puzzles are horrid in parts. The music in particular immediately comes to mind the second I see the title screen (and the child in me has a rather soft spot for the Astro Chicken theme, too.)ReplyDelete
Hoverboards: So freaking real.ReplyDelete
I'll give it a 61!Delete
My nostalgia is telling me to give it 68! Don't fail me now, nostalgia.ReplyDelete
I'll go for 62. Space Quest IV will get extra points for the improved graphics and music. It may have been the strongest game in the series.ReplyDelete
54. The game looked lovely (that title screen with the moving background, wow!) but I recall feeling disappointed with the adventure itself.ReplyDelete
Welp, just checked the score other games got and realized my scale is off. Not to mention I'm contradicting my own predictions for the top 5... ignore 54, I'll go with 60!Delete
I'll go with 63. I don't remember it being better than Maniac Mansion but the graphics and music are such a great improvement that coupled with a very funny game can take SQIV over it. Although I have to admit that I enjoyed the Star Trek spoof from SQV a lot more than SQIV... (hides behind a blanket waiting for the mass to lynch him)ReplyDelete
I say its not going to be as groundbreaking as KQ5 in the technical department but the comedy is good and the voice acting is spot on from the small part of the game I've played so far. Can't say much about the puzzles yet.ReplyDelete
I say 53!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
56 for me! I haven't played it more than 30 min. so I don't really know what to expect from it.ReplyDelete
I think I just don't like this game. Way too much unavoidable random death for my liking.ReplyDelete
I often have no time to think about a puzzle before being killed by a random event. Game make Hulk mad!
There's lots of death in KQ5, but there you have to do something to be killed. Here you get killed by standing still while thinking
I'll go with 61. I quite like the Space quests, but if I recall correctly there were a couple of bugs in this. That may depend on the version you're playing though. Anyway, I think you'll have to turn the speed down to avoid some issues at various parts in the game.ReplyDelete
Oh no, 61 was already suggested. Twice. Then I'll change my guess to 65. Feeling luckyDelete