Tuesday 28 July 2015

Space Quest 1 (VGA) - Final Rating

I don't know about anyone else, but I really enjoyed playing Space Quest 1 again. I've played and replayed through many of the Sierra games over the years (previous to this blog, and also replaying them again alongside this blog), and I never tire of the good ones.


My very first experience with Space Quest 1 just involved the Arcada, as I couldn't make it off the ship. I was too young really, and wasn't sure what I should be doing. It was a similar case for the other early Sierra games, but they made enough of an impact for me to continue playing similar games until I was able to finish them on my own.

I've had changing opinions on remakes, and I'd say I'm usually positive about them these days. Problems only arise if the game is altered in such a way that it's not really the same any more, or if the remake is just badly made or buggy. I'm sure we will see all sorts as we progress forward on this blog!

So how does this compare with the original? Lets look at those scores:

Puzzles and Solvability

The puzzles are largely unchanged from the original game, which means they also left in a really bad one. Generally, I'm okay with puzzles that might give you a walking dead scenario, since the game is quite short and it allows you to save almost anywhere, so I won't mark it down too harshly for that. The problem arises as you enter Ulence Flats, where a strange gentleman tries to buy your skimmer. You have to turn down his first offer, or you cannot finish the game. Other wrong turns can lead to amusing endings/deaths, which is a much preferable way to go about this (such as buying the wrong droid).

This room is the most Star Trek-like, especially the console

A little bonus over the original game is the addition of the magnetic widget, which you pick up in the Star Generator room on the Arcada, and can be used to help you win big at the slot machine. Without this gizmo, the slot machine section requires a bit of save-scumming in order to get enough cash. If you run out of cash though, you can find some coins in the trash behind the bar, so you can retry the slot machine (until it overheats and blows up!). It's also a nice touch for the guy who buys your skimmer to give you coupons for both the droids-b-us and the bar, pointing you in the direction for the things you need to get to the final section of the game.

Score: 5

Interface and Inventory

The original was using the old Sierra text-parser interface, and required you to type commands. While this helped me a lot in my typing abilities as a kid, the graphical interface from this remake is unquestionably better. Each icon represents a different possible action, of which a couple (the nose and mouth) are used to give a bit of comedic flavour to the game. The inventory gives you nice graphical representations of the items you have, alongside a good description (in most cases).

A familiar-looking robot

Most of the items you need to interact with or pick up are colourful and obvious, and it is generally clear where you are supposed to go and what you are supposed to do. Even the death screens will sometimes give you a hint about what you did wrong, to help you out for next time and make the experience less frustrating.

Score: 7

Story and Setting

The story is a relatively simple one, and for the first game in a series this works very well. You are the lone survivor of a disaster, and although you have little or no experience, you manage to stumble through and save the day in the end. The Sariens are convincing bad guys, they will happily shoot on sight, and you have no doubt that they will use the Star Generator for evil ends. Roger is a good choice for the player character, clueless at the start but a hero through his/your actions (that mostly revolve around self-preservation!).

I'm sure Terry Nation wouldn't have minded this reference

The story and locations are packed full of references to science fiction: The star generator is a reference to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and the Genesis device for example, with the Sariens taking the role of Klingons (more of a Search for Spock reference there). I'm pretty sure Kerona is supposed to be a stand-in for Tatooine too, but I guess desert planets are common enough in Sci-Fi! (It does have worm-like creatures in the sand, so there's your Dune reference I'd say).

I liked Kerona the most, the red desert and the bones were particularly well drawn and certainly created the right atmosphere. The limited use of music there helped accentuate the harsh and uninviting location, and of course this being a Sierra game it does contain numerous ways to die, so there is a real peril!

Score: 7

Sound and Graphics

For the most part, the game is lovingly re-created in wonderful VGA graphics. As I said for the previous category, Kerona in particular looks great. Other locations can be a bit more varied though, and I thought the Sarien ship interior looked rather messy and incoherent. The character designs varied massively too, best seen in Ulence Flats which has an array of unique looking aliens (not all of which are drawn to quite the same standard). The character animations are good, if sometimes a little cartoonish. The contrast between styles for this and Space Quest IV was most apparent with the little cameo of the time pod, which looked far more detailed than its surroundings.

The Sequel Police look a little out of place

The music and sound are similarly upgraded, but the music is less memorable than some other games of this era, which is a shame because there are several Sierra games that have great music.

Score: 6

Environment and Atmosphere

The game opens with an alarm sounding, with Sariens patrolling the ship and leaves you with no doubt that you need to leave as soon as possible. It's actually quite graphic in it's descriptions of the dead crew members, and does make for a great opening. Kerona likewise is a very alien planet with death around every corner, at least until you get to Ulence Flats, which feels like it should have been more of a major section rather than a brief rest-stop before the final scenes.

I think we may have accidentaly strayed into the Neutral Zone

There are often plenty of light-hearted moments throughout, but you can see that the series has yet to hit its stride. Whereas some of the later games in the series are of a more consistent tone, this one is more of a straight sci-fi adventure with comedy as a background element, rather than a send-up of sci-fi tropes and conventions.

Score: 5

Dialog and Acting

The early game is mainly narration (in the form of large chunks of text), and so dialog takes a back seat. The only conversation you have is a one-sided exposition dump from a scientist just before he croaks. It's not until you reach Ulence Flats that the game allows you to converse with various different characters (although they often have little to say).

You spin me right round...

The only memorable characters are the two sarcastic robots, one working for Droids-b-Us and the other working in the Sarien armoury. They get a lot of the game's best lines, outside of narration, death text and item descriptions. The death messages are perhaps the highlight in general, and something that most players will see at least a few times.

Score: 5

That makes 5+7+7+6+5+5 = 35/60*100 = 58!

That's 3 points higher than the original, which seems fair since they are basically the same besides the upgraded graphics and sound. Looks like the closest score prize goes to Reiko and Ilmari!

Sci-Fi Reference Contest

There was a low turnout for this contest, which is a shame since the two games included (Space Quest IV and this one) both have quite a few great references!
TBD recognised Luke Skywalker's landspeeder in Space Quest IV, Robbie the Robot in Space Quest 1 VGA
Fry recognised the "DALIK" in Space Quest 1 VGA (not very subtle that one)
Ilmari recognised the link between the Latex Babes of Estros and the Leather Godessess of Phobos in Space Quest IV, and the Romulan Warbird in Space Quest 1 VGA.

Since there's only three people on the list, I'm going to offer a prize to each one. So if TBD, Fry and Ilmari wold like to choose a science-fiction adventure game from Steam or GOG.com ($10 or less). Congratulations for taking part!

For those wondering what possible other references there were:
Star Generator = Genesis Device (Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan)
Aluminum Mallard = Millenium Falcon (Star Wars)
Sequel Police = I've always thought they were a reference to Doctor Who: Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150AD
The zombies = The pointing and screaming is surely a reference to Donald Sutherland in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
Vohaul's takeover of Xenon = surely a reference to Skynet/The Terminator (also includes time travel!)
Star Trek shuttlecraft = outside the Rocket Bar in SQ1VGA
Green alien woman = A reference to Captain Kirk's love of green-skinned ladies, and also a reference to Total Recall (when looking at her it says, "You must be getting dizzy - you're seeing triple")

I'm sure there are many others that I've missed!

CAP Distribution

100 points to Andy Panthro
  • Blogger award - 100 CAPs - For blogging through this game for our enjoyment
55 points to Joe P.
  • Classic Blogger award - 50 CAPs - For blogging through Questprobe: Spiderman for our enjoyment
  • Companion award - 5 CAPs - For partially playing along
35 points to Ilmari
  • Psychic prediction award - 10 CAPs - For guessing the score
  • Orat Exterminator award - 10 CAPs - For giving an alternative solution to the Orat problem
  • Redshirt award - 5 CAPs - For giving an alternative death scene involving a Romulan warbird
  • Everything in Moderation award - 5 CAPs - For giving an alternative death scene involving beer
  • Captain America award - 5 CAPs - For getting a reference
30 points to Laertes
  • Grammar Sarien award - 10 CAPs - For correcting my spelling of the Arcada!
  • Universal Translator award - 10 CAPs - For letting us know that "arcada" means "retching" in Spanish
  • Code Cracker award - 10 CAPs - For spotting two scifi references in Joe's SQ4 titles
25 points to Torch
  • Code Cracker award - 25 CAPs - For spotting a scifi reference in Joe's SQ4 titles and four references in captions
25 points to TangoBunny
  • What's Your Story -award - 20 CAPs - For sending in her WYS answers
  • Mighty Morphin award - 5 CAPs - For indulging Joe P. in his wish to talk about Power Rangers  
25 points to TBD
  • Companion award - 5 CAPs - For partially playing along
  • Captain America award - 5 CAPs - For getting a reference
  • Code Cracker award - 15 CAPs - For spotting a scifi reference in Joe's SQ4 titles and two references in captions
20 points to Joseph Curwen
  • Childhood memories award - 20 CAPs - For telling us about his first adventure game experiences
15 points to Laukku
  • Sharp Dressed Man award - 10 CAPs - For giving information about patches including a musical improvement and how to restore ZZ Top to their former glory
  • Genre Lover award - 5 CAPs - For announcing a new adventure game Kickstarter
10 points to Reiko
  • Psychic prediction award - 10 CAPs - For guessing the score
10 points for Aperama
  • Psychic Prediction award - 5 CAPs - For guessing the score of Questprobe: Spiderman
10 points to Fry
  • Captain America award - 5 CAPs - For getting a reference
  • Spider Sense award - 5 CAPs - For blindly solving an adventure game puzzle
A late update of the the current rankings for the 1991 games:

1. Space Quest 4 - 65 points
2. Leisure Suit Larry 1 Remake - 60 points
3. Space Quest 1 Remake - 58 points
4. Hugo II - 18 points

It seems remakes are getting higher numbers than many of us suspected. Furthermore, the order of Larry and Space Quest Remakes has confounded many. But Charles' guess of top 5 appears to be quite promising!


  1. You should have docked me 5 CAPs for talking about Power Rangers... :)

  2. CAP distribution updated. Both Andy P. and Joe P. are rising in the leaderboard!

    1. I think it'll take quite a lot of guest blogging to get myself any closer to the top three! Or some sort of outrageous gamble.

  3. As for my prize, I think I'll take Under a Killing Moon, since Tex Murphy is a series I haven't really played.

    1. Not sure how much it counts as Sci-Fi, although I haven't played it so I can't say. It's set in the future though, so that's good enough! The only question is: Steam or GOG.com?

    2. Very generous of you Andy. Thanks.

      I'd call the Tex Murphy games sci-fi, as well as detective noir. You've got lasers and spaceships combined with bourbon and fedoras. That bizarre combination is a big part of the charm of the games for me.

      I'd love a Star Trek: 25th Anniversary which is coming up in the next gaming year (Just after Nemean Lion apparently - did some fan of greek mythological creatures hack our spreadsheet?)

      As for Steam or GOG, buyer's choice - I have lots of games on both so have no preference.

    3. I think I'd prefer GOG, but whichever is better for you is fine for me.

      Nemean Lion: That's actually just a secret code name to a certain long-term project with twelve parts we've been planning to do - you can see more mythological monsters coming up later in next and following year. Let's just say that if you look at the players and release dates of these "monsters" you might recognise which series of games is meant.

  4. I'm actually fond of the Time Pod looking out of place - it fits in with the 'monochrome brothers' suggestion thrown in by SQ4 instead of having the graphics all look on par.

    Good job! SQ1 is definitely a fond memory for me, though I've always preferred parser based versions of games as a rule so never really played the remake.

    1. For those that played the originals, there's a certain charm to them that gets lost in translation. But I'd have a hard time suggesting that any new player should play the parser versions. I'm OK with the remakes, sometimes I prefer them, but they don't feel the same. Perhaps it's a nostalgia thing, but the Quest For Glory 1 VGA remake just doesn't sit right with me. SQ1VGA I liked though, so I guess it depends on the series.

  5. I'm sure Terry Nation wouldn't have minded this reference

    Oh hey, and that's Ultron's head sitting on the desk!

    1. So it is! Surprised nobody noticed it earlier and commented on it, especially with Age of Ultron being out recently and I think he featured in one of the Questprobe games that was covered earlier in the year.

    2. I thing Terry Nation would have minded the reference. He (and after him, his estate) was very particular about how Daleks were used. The 2005 Doctor Who people almost didn't get the rights for the Series 1 Dalek episodes.

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  7. And a big thank you to Andy Panthro for turning our top twelve games list back into a top ten. Leisure Suit Larry 1 and 3 and Police Quest 2, your time in the limelight is over!

    1. It was fun, and I will surely volunteer again in the future, if the opportunity arises. I hope everyone enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it!

  8. King's Quest Chapter 1 (the new game) is now released on Steam, and you can now buy just the first chapter instead of the inaccurately named 'King's Quest Complete Collection' if you prefer


    I'm personally waiting for the whole thing to be released and reviewed but if anyone buys it and plays it let us know what you think.

    1. The more I see, the more I am unsure about the whole thing. John Walker (RPS) was suggesting on Twitter that it's terrible, but others have been more positive. I think I'd want to hear from someone like Richard Cobbett, who is very knowledgeable about adventure games.

    2. I am planning to buy it when I get some time, but "some time" may be early September at this point as I am finishing up Questprobe, the Scott Adams interview, and I have a family vacation coming.

  9. There weren't enough contest entries, so you're giving away additional prizes?! I am confuse.

    1. I felt I should reward those who took part!

      So what game would you like? (and Steam or GOG?)

    2. Hrm. Anyone have suggestions on upcoming games that would fit?

    3. Perhaps Tex Murphy: Martian Memorandum or Star Trek 25th Anniversary?

    4. Sure, I'll try Star Trek 25th, on Steam.

      That reminds me that a long, long time ago, I played some sort of Star Trek text adventure, and couldn't figure out how to accomplish anything, because I was too young at the time. Hopefully this game is better than that!

    5. Almost certainly The Kobayashi Alternative or the Promethean Prophecy both covered athttp://www.filfre.net/2014/12/simon-schusters-treks-to-nowhere/

    6. That made me try to find out what the first Star Trek game I remember playing was. Found it...


  10. I got zero CAPs again. I suck. :(

    1. Don't worry, I am sure you'll get some by the end of Timequest.

  11. A very interesting kickstarter for a third 7th Guest game has started...


    It's a fan-made game that's been on again/off again developed for 10 years that now (assuming they get the $40,000 funding) has official rights to develop and distribute the game.

    Fascinating and well done to the team.

  12. Good job with this one Andy. I remember not enjoying it as the original, but now I'm thinking it deserves a second look. I'm mainly remembering timing issues on Kerona in the pre DOSbox days.

    Very fair rating, too. The widget is a great addition to this one.

  13. Interesting point you made about the detail of the SQ4 timepod versus the rest of the game.

    I'd guess that was a budget issue, with the remakes getting a much smaller budget than the completely new sequels.

    1. It's also a style difference, the SQ1 remake is quite a cartoonish style compared to the more "realistic" looking SQ4. I'm pretty sure they were created in different ways, SQ1VGA looks to have far more stuff that could have been drawn directly on a computer, whereas SQ4 I think used a lot of hand-painted and scanned backgrounds, and Roger looks different too (both in looks and animations).

  14. I just noticed, there's no PISSED monkey graphic for the rating on this post. What happened to those?

  15. I know I'm over three years late on this, but I'm disappointed that no one mentioned the Ultron Easter egg. :(

    1. And... three years late but someone in the comments DID mention the Ultron easter egg. Look up a bit and see that Rown Lipkovits has it covered :)

      Also, just noticed we never took care of the graphic rating Reiko mentioned - oops - done three and a bit years later!