Friday 3 July 2015

Space Quest 1 (VGA) - Part 1: Sarien Surprise

Written by Andy Panthro

You know, life as a space janitor isn't that bad. You're basically your own boss, the breaks are great, and you get to travel the universe. Of course, the perks of the job can come to a brutal end when your ship is attacked by some sort of space pirates. Those Sariens even woke me from my nap!

A rude awakening

Someone has started the self-destruct sequence, so I better make my escape before it's too late. Everywhere I turn there's either Sarien soldiers, or the corpses of my former shipmates. Pretty grim stuff, but there's no time to mourn. Mind you, you have to look on the bright side, and the silver lining is that I've got a chance to get off this ship before it explodes.

Poor Jerry

As I wander through the ship, I search the bodies I find, and one turns up something useful. It's my old friend Jerry, who doesn't look so good these days. He used to work down on the lower decks, where the airlocks and the escape pods are. Hopefully his keycard will still work!

The Star Generator room, usually a hive of activity

I have to move quickly from room to room, the Sariens are everywhere. I hear footsteps in the distance, and then quickly run before they catch me. Running and hiding, some might call this cowardice, but I call it survival! I quickly dive into the Star Generator research room to avoid a patrol, only to be greeted by death and destruction.

I can only guess as to what the Sariens want with the Star Generator, but I suppose they think it's some sort of weapon. I fell asleep during the film presentation about it, and when I woke up I think they'd moved on to an adaptation of Moby Dick. Anyway, I checked the room for anything that I could find that might help me out, and found a strange magnetic device.

He remembered my name!

Time was running out, so I thought it best to move along, and headed back through the Data Archive room. I'd cleaned in here a lot, but never paid much attention to what they were storing. I guess with a crew full of scientists and engineers it must be some pretty technical stuff, so I left it alone. As I was leaving though, the door opened and one of the Arcada's scientific staff came in. He was in dire need of medical attention.

I went to help him in whatever way I could, but dammit, I'm a janitor not a doctor! He was less concerned with his own well-being though, and far more concerned with the Star Generator. He told me the ship was under attack, told me to escape if I could, then muttered something about "Magnetic Fields". He seemed to be looking at the Data Archive, so I guess if saving some of his research is his dying wish, then I should oblige.

I bet this little robot would be helpful if I could bring him with me

Sitting at the console, I typed in the appropriate code, and the little robot librarian retrieved the archive cartridge for me. You would have thought there would be copies of all of this information elsewhere, perhaps on some sort of galaxy-wide network. With the cartridge safely stored with my other belongings, I made my way towards the lower decks.

Those Sarien patrols are as lazy at searching rooms as I was at cleaning them!

I'd never been down on the lower decks before, which is odd because you'd think they'd need cleaning. I guess they probably get robots to do it, which would make me worry about my job if it wasn't already a bit complicated. I hope my redundancy package is good! I notice as I make my way to the airlock that the screens are showing one of the Sariens. The green alien looks pretty angry, and as I stare at the screen I hear footsteps! Using my quick wits, I dive into a dark corner of the room and hide from the Sarien patrol. Thankfully, they don't search the room, and instead make their way back the way they came. A close call!

A spacesuit with classic fishbowl helmet!

After evading the Sariens, my next job was to get off the ship. I made sure to open the shuttle bay doors before heading down to the airlock. Once there, I found myself a space suit and some strange gadget in a drawer. Considering everything will get vaporised in a few minutes, I decided to pocket the gadget in case it came in useful later (or could be sold for a few buckazoids).

This whole area is a health & safety nightmare

Passing through the airlock to the escape pod, I again saw the angry face of a Sarien ranting about something. Ignoring it, I went inside the pod and took a quick look around. These pods are small, but comfortable, and are designed to get you to the nearest habitable planet as soon as possible. With a little luck, I might be able to find myself a nice bar somewhere with cold beer and wait for all this to blow over.

How do I work this thing?

Sitting in the pilots seat, I made sure to use the seat belt (safety first!), and powered up the pod. Pushing forward on the stick, the engine roared into life and the pod flew out of the hangar and into the darkness of space. Not a moment too soon either, as the Arcada exploded behind me in the distance.

Farewell Arcada, we hardly knew ye!

Without the self destruct alarm, the Sarien patrols and the adrenaline rush, I suddenly felt quite alone. My ship, my colleagues and my job were all gone. I didn't know where to go, or what I should do when I get there. I was a long way from home and I suppose I better try and find a way to get back to Xenon.

Kerona sounds nice, I bet they have beer there

Pressing the autopilot button, the scanners found the nearest hospitable planet, and in a matter of minutes the pod had taken me to Kerona, a harsh looking red planet. It wasn't exactly a soft landing either, as I crashed down into the desert. I grabbed the survival kit from the shuttle, and looked out on the desolate landscape. There were some rock formations nearby, and that seemed as good a place as any to explore.

There surely is no living thing on this remote, forbidding planet. The chances are a million to one!

Interesting Death Of The Day (TM) There are many ways to die in a Space Quest game, and I wouldn't have it any other way. You can be shot by Sariens, forget your space suit, forget to open the shuttle bay doors, not wear a seat belt and fall off the walkway to the escape pod (where are the hand-rails? It's a health and safety nightmare!).

Hey, don't tell me what to do!

Today's best death comes from the shuttle pod, which has a curious button: "THIS BUTTON IS NOT TO BE PUSHED AT ANYTIME", so of course when you are away from the Arcada, what is the first button you push? (after saving your game, of course!) It turns out that the Sequel Police from Space Quest IV got their tech from the Arcada, and you travel through space and time to Nottingham, a time of outlaws and adventure (coming soon on this very blog!)

Sponsored by English Heritage,


  1. The name of the ship is not Arcadia as mentioned in the text. It is Arcada (note the missing i). I noticed this because for us spanish speaking people "arcada" has a funny meaning: "retching". I don't know if that was the intention of the authors though.

    1. Ah, I guess I should have done a bit more proof-reading before I sent this in!

    2. Fixed! Though we could have claimed Roger was incompetent enough not to know the name of the ship he's working on. :)

  2. I've gotta admit that I quite liked, more than anything else they did here, the fact that they went from the KQ jumpover when pushing the red button in the original to Conquests of the Longbow - they never were shy about finding ways of finding cameo appearances in the Sierra days.

    I'm trying to remember - was it the catalog computer that works as in-game copy protection? Any time I've replayed through these games I've pretty much stuck to the EGA version because the hop over to 2 and 3 feels less jarring because of.

    1. Yes, you need a code from the manual to get the cartridge.

  3. For some reason, I prefer the look and layout of Arcada in the original game. Perhaps it's because in the original Arcada seemed a more believable ship. Just look at the room with the escape pod. In the original, it looked like a realistic ship hangar, here, it seems to be designed by Anton Gaudi - it's all groovy and dandy, but would it really work?

  4. It might be easier to keep games straight if in future you put ones in the same series further apart when possible. But given hour far behind I am, you might have changed the format on me.

    1. Actually our plan is to play games in release date order, or as close as we can approximate. It's just bad luck that not enough other games were released between SQIV and the remake of SQI this year.

      Good to see you reading and commenting again, Canageek!