Thursday, 9 July 2015

Space Quest 1 (VGA) - Part 2: Kerona

So this expensive heap of junk has saved me from a terrible space-based death, and deposited me on an inhospitable red desert. It's not that I'm ungrateful, but it would have been nice to have been near some form of civilization, or at least what passes for it in this sector of space.

This friendly fellow is called a Grell, and he lives in the sand

Even a little water would be nice, but I've picked up the survival kit from the crashed escape pod which contains the next best thing - dehydrated water! I also decided to carry around a bit of sharp glass from the window (the smashing of the glass doesn't exactly fill me with confidence about the quality of the escape pod, but I suppose I shouldn't complain too much since I'm alive... for now). My quest to get off this rock begins by trying to find anyone or anything that doesn't want to kill me.

The huge and majestic bones of a large creature are spread across this area
(feat. robot-spider-kill-machine)

I get the feeling moving further into the desert would be a very bad idea, even careful mapping and fortunately-placed oases would have little benefit. Instead, I head towards the rather scenic looking bone formations. I feel like these should be some sort of tourist destination. Some sort of gift shop with hats, thermal underwear and refreshing drinks would go a long way in this desert heat.

This skull looks very dinosaur-like, did Tyrannosaurus Rex travel through space?

The local wildlife seems almost extinct, with the vast fossil skeleton of a probably carnivorous animal creating a semi-sheltered area. The plant life isn't much better, and on closer inspection the local flora is quite sticky, and every attempt to remove the plant from my hand only ended up with it sticking somewhere else (currently on my leg, for use later).

The Orat and Robot-spider-kill-machine introduce themselves to each other

I'm definitely not alone here though, having bravely run away from some variety of gigantic sand snake and a wild Orat (I was just trying to rest in the cool cavern, when it practically bit my head clean off!). Meanwhile, the Sariens decided to drop some form of mechanical spider in my vicinity, which tracks me like an 80s movie serial killer (slowly, menacingly, with appropriate soundtrack).

Tumbling through a tunnel

The robot-spider-kill-machine (I couldn't come up with a snappier name with heatstroke) wasn't the most intelligent of opponents though, and I combined two of my problems by having the Orat take an unhealthy interest in my robotic friend, resulting in the termination of both of them. I try not to be violent, but in this case I had very little choice!

This guy seems a little clingy

This allowed me a little bit more time to explore, and to find out that this desert is quite remote and probably will be the death of me (it's tried a couple of times now, so I can't fault it for persistence). My heroic fumbling eventually gets me out of trouble, as usual, as I manage to trigger a trapdoor into some sort of underground lair.

Ah, The Big Giant Head!

The caverns down here, whilst cooler than the overground area, are predictably lethal. After grabbing a bit of stalacmite (or is it stalactite?), I venture forward only to find a grate monster. Quite what such a monster feeds off when there isn't a healthy supply of space janitors, I don't know. It turns out that sticky plant was just the thing to keep it occupied though, allowing me to sneak past while it tried to unstick itself.

Dr. Slash Vohaul seems like a nice chap, I hope to meet him (or a relative) someday

My next challenge was a door, apparently sealed and quite strong that was opened by merely dropping the stalacmite piece into a steam vent. Somehow it almost feels like I'm a rat in a maze, but I continue anyway. The next chamber contains a large pool of sizzling green liquid, which is almost certainly horrifically corrosive. I decide to keep my distance, and instead find my way past a laser barrier by the cunning use of the reflective glass shard I've been keeping in my pocket. Onwards and upwards, I have to dodge my way past dripping acid (where is it even coming from?), until I find myself in a dark chamber.

They're quick to get me to leave, but at least I get this free sand-skimmer

A massive alien face appears from nowhere, and I find myself pinned to the spot. At first I couldn't understand a word of it's bizzare language, but somehow I managed to switch on the strange device I'd found in the drawer near the airlock back at the Arcadia. Turns out it's a universal translator, which is awfully handy and it would have been quite upsetting if I had not taken it! My penchant for picking up everything that isn't nailed down came in handy immediately afterward too, as this alien creature wanted me to kill the Orat on the surface. Since my pal the robot-spider-kill-machine (still haven't got a better nickname) has already done that duty, I dropped the bit of Orat that I'd taken with me on the floor as proof, and was let into the alien's base!

Ah, an arcade sequence. Doesn't everyone just love these? I skipped it of course

It turns out these folks live underground, and are using thermal vents for steam power. Thanking me for offing the Orat, they give me a sand-skimmer to make my way to the nearest settlement. While I'm here though, I notice a computer that will allow me to look at that cartridge I've been lugging around. Turns out Dr. Slash Vohaul, inventor of the Star Generator, had suspected possible Sarien activity and had created a destruct code. Hopefully some brave, foolish man will be able to handle this task when I pass this on to the appropriate authorities (Where is the nearest Xenon embassy?).

Maybe you should try and make your arcade sequences a bit better!

Making sure I picked up the cartridge, I got in the skimmer and headed out to Ulence Flats. The skimmer was serviceable, but fragile as glass and had a nasty habit of smashing into rocks. I let the autopilot do it's job though, and soon found myself in what could generously be termed a settlement. The town itself seemed centred around a dive bar, and I could use a drink, so I parked up outside. It looked like a kind of biker bar, but there didn't seem to be many people around. The only notable fellow was a rather shifty looking man, who tried to buy the skimmer from me. His offer of 25 buckazoids was far too low though, so I told him politely that I wouldn't sell, and he wandered off.

I'm not sure what he wants with a sand-skimmer,
 but I know it's surely worth more than 25 measly buckazoids!

Next stop, the Rocket Bar to quench my thirst!

Interesting Death of the Day (TM)

Today's interesting death could have been one of many, as it seemed like everything was out to get Roger on Kerona. I'm sure Ulence Flats will be much safer. This particular death was caused, like so many others, by curiosity. Interested in the pool of green liquid under the Keronian desert, Roger decided to put his arm in and see what happened. It turns out that was a poor decision. But at least I spared you half a dozen grate puns by not going for the grate monster death!

I think this is what they use to make "Dragon's Breath"
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!


  1. Kerona is a definite improvement. The original looked like it was shot in Vazquez Rocks, while this feels completely alien.

    Did you notice any speed problems? I remember this section was a bit irritating at the time, since Roger had to stop drinking so often and the animation for that took so long that the spider was usually very near and killed Roger.

    Also, did you try whether the alternative solutions for Orat and spider work in the remake also? (that is, dropping rock on spider and throwing condensed water to Orat)

    1. What!? Vazquez Rocks *ARE* my definition of what an alien planet would look like. That's what they all look like...

    2. Unless they look like a BBC quarry ;)

      What I was trying to humorously say was that the original looked like any old desert/rocks-combination that one would see in a run of the mill -TV show, trying to pass it as an alien planet. The new one has interesting and more original and weird-looking features, like the skeletons and the reddish colour.

    3. You can definitely drop a rock on the spider-droid, although I didn't try (I did push the rock though, to see if I could). Didn't try throwing the water at the Orat, I hadn't even thought of it.

      No speed problems, in fact I think my DosBox settings are wrong in some way because the game crawls along sometimes (when opening the inventory it takes a few seconds to load all of the item pictures). I only had to drink once in this section, I assume this is as it should be.

    4. The Space Quest series would probably work very well as a sci-fi comedy TV show (similar to Red Dwarf in style), until it got to SQ5 at least (where the focus on parodying Star Trek gets a bit much).

    5. Does the dehydrated water dehydrate the Orat?

    6. It somehow rehydrates and thus expands, when it comes to contact with air, and when you throw the whole thing to Orat, it makes a big bang. Physics of the thing are a bit hazy.

    7. This is one if my issues with games. They are animated, modeled or drawn. Aliens and alien worlds can look like anything, yet very few of them don't feel like somewhere that could exist on earth with a pallet swap. As for aliens, Mass Effect I did those pretty well (jellyfish people, animus breathers, elephant people), but then the latter two did very little to expand on this.

  2. I'm slightly disappointed in the title for this episode, I spend a while trying to come up with an appropriate pun involving Mars. It was almost called "Is There Life On Kerona?" but I chickened out of that and just went for a more basic title.

    1. Take a look at the lawman beating up the wrong, wait, that's Space Quest IV.

  3. The skull made me think of Crocomire from Super Metroid, but a google search reveals that the image does look very, very similar to T. rex.

  4. This post is a real blast from my past.

    Growing up, my dad's old college buddy from the early '60s had a son my age, I would occasionally spend the night at his house. My dad is a computer scientist, and his college buddy a mathmatician with strong computer leanings, so they had the best PC available and a LARGE library of Sierra/Lucasarts games - under the prevailing theory that adventure games make kids think (kind of the anti-Nintendo) and develop critical problem-solving skills and were generally strong for the mind.

    So I learned rapidly to look forward to these visits, where I would suddenly have access to all the hottest games I was seeing ads for in CGM, or had seen on shelves of stores (back when that was a thing).

    That's where I first saw the VGA remake of Space Quest I - at a sleepover, when me and my friend basically retreated like sun-averse trolls into the safety of the basement where the happy computers hummed away in the corner, ready and eager to load our delicious games for our young minds to eagerly feast on.

    The only problem was that because my friend had full access to these games all the time, he often had already beat the games and had to suffer through my fumbling with adventure game logic. Few things are harder to resist than the instinct to show someone the correct solution to a puzzle you've already solved, and my friend's willpower was often not up to the task. I often sat through a series of "go there... click on that... no, that... yeah.... now, go over here.... use it on the door.... see, now you're through!"

    Which is maddening.

    However, my memories of this game are still positive and quite strong after allllllll these years. He had the original EGA version to, and I remember that version more vaguely, but I remember that we were BLOWN AWAY by the VGA graphics and better sound (he had a Soundblaster? I think? Possibly AdLIb).

  5. Feh... dehydrated water in the desert? About as useful as a solar-powered torchlight in a dark dungeon.