Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter
Sierra released this classic (originally under the working title Star Quest) in October of 1986 on two 360k floppies. It sported stunning 16-color graphics and no soundcard support (unless you count Tandy 3-Voice). This game introduced the concept of a janitor as a space hero and set the stage for the SQ series both in tone and structure. The satirical wit was definitely there in full force and this game also introduced the skimmer sequence--while arcade sequences were still a fairly new concept in adventure games. Anyhoo, Roger's janitor suit in SQ1 seems to be inspired slightly by the uniform of another great space explorer...maybe Jim Kirk's from Star Trek: The Motion Picture?
Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge
Space Quest II entered the gaming world in 1987, this time on three low density 5-1/4" disks. Still 16-color and soundcar-dless, this game was not much of a technological improvement over SQ1. Furthermore, it seems to lack the "Space-Questiness" of the other games in the series. Although still a great game, sometimes it seems more like Roberta Williams on a particularly funny day than the Two Guys from Andromeda. As for Roger himself, the uniform is a bit more stylish with the added purple areas (my guess is Sierra had to use the 16-color palette to its fullest and was forced to change it, though). SQ2 introduces Sludge Vohaul as its primary villain, a man who turns out to be a major factor in Roger's future. Most notably, this game features Roger sending away for the Labion Terror Beast whistle, an act which comes back to haunt him in the future.
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon
In Spring of 1989, Sierra made a huge jump ahead in this game with an enhanced graphics engine, a new text parser, and full (for the time) soundcard support. This game was a whopping three 720k disks long--larger than SQ1 and 2 combined! SQ3 features the Two Guys from Andromeda doing some of their finest work; the humor in this game in unbeatable and the character of Roger is really nailed down. This game details the repurcussions of Roger's mail fraud against the Gippazoid Novelty Company in the form of Arnoid, the Exterminator. Also, the Two Guys are introduced as characters in the Space Quest Universe and Astrochicken (a classic in and of itself) first appeared. To ice the cake, Roger gets to meet (an be turned down for a job by) Ken Williams. Roger's uniform is similar to that of SQ2, but with an added communicator thingie and a belt buckle. Oddly enough, however, Roger's mouth disappears in the graphics for SQ3 (and he talks more in this game than in either of the first two). Although quite short, this game definitely ranks in the upper echelon of Space Quest.
Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
This is the big one folks! No more chunky 16-colors (well, actually there was a Tandy version, which I own, but normal people have the VGA one); 256-color VGA had arrived. Also, say bye-bye to a text parser; it's all point and click. This 1991 game was quite a step forward in technology and was contained on five 1.44meg disks (a CD-ROM talkie was later released). SQ4 definitely had one of the more twisted plot lines of the series. Roger is sent on a trek through time by his son from the future to stop Sludge Vohaul from eventually ruling Xenon. This game sends Roger through SQ12, SQ10, and SQ1 (complete with EGA graphics) on this quest. This game is particularly funny and fits in quite well with the rest of the series. Futhermore, Roger is looking quite spiffy by this sequel. He still wears the old purple sleeves, but the tunic is back to white--a definite improvement, in my opinion. Oddly enough, this game marks a change in Roger's hair color from brown to blonde. Did he pull a Sonny Bonds between SQ3 and 4? The CD-ROM version of this game (one of Sierra's first) is quite well done for the time frame. It features the voice of Laugh-In's Gary Owens as narrator.
Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter (VGA Re-Make)
In 1990, Sierra decided to re-release the classic Space Quest I, this time with a VGA face-lift. The decision was also made to give the game a "1950's B-movie feel" in both graphics and sound, resulting in a purposefully cheesy effect. The project was met with criticism from many die-hard fans, but the game itself isn't all that bad. The graphics are very well-done and the same great original story is there. This game also used a lot of left-over technology from SQ4. Some sources claim it was released before SQ4 and others differ. Either way, the interface and the graphics are very similar in both projects. All in all, this game is worth taking a look at if you're a fan of the series.
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
This installment of the series was dramatically different from its predecessors for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it was designed using the Dynamix game engine and graphics (popularized in games like Heart of China and Rise of the Dragon) as opposed to the standard Sierra system. Also, it marked the breakup of the Two Guys from Andromeda. Only Mark Crowe stayed aboard for this sequel. Space Quest V featured some of the best VGA graphics around for the day back in 1993. It remained point-and-click, yet it is clearly more polished than the system found in SQ4. Storywise, SQ5 finds Roger in command of the Eureka, an intergalactic garbage scow. It also introduces more supporting characters than you can shake a stick at, including Captain Quirk, Ambassador Wankmeister (Roger's future wife), and Roger's somewhat loving crew. Also, the Gippazoid fraud theme is revisited with the appearance of WD-40. The classic Space Quest humor is present in full force, along with a healthy dose of Star Trek parody throughout. In my opinion, this is Roger's finest uniform throughout the series. He makes the switch from his old janitorial duds into the Star Confederacy uniform--a very cool looking uniform indeed.
Space Quest VI: The Spinal Frontier
The most recent chapter in the Space Quest saga was released in 1995 and was the first of the series to appear only in CD-ROM format. It also comes about with one of the more interesting back stories. From what I understand from inside sources, Josh Mandel (given only writer credits in the documentation) was the initial designer on this project. As it progressed, however, there were creative differences between he and Sierra's top brass. Mandel left the project and was replaced by Scott Murphy (the formerly MIA Guy from Andromeda). Also, the general conflicts surrounding this game can be seen in the many name changes it underwent in development (one of the more interesting being Space Quest VI: Where in Corpsman Santiago is Roger Wilco). The graphics and sound in SQ6 are more "cartoonish" than those of SQ5, but just as spectacular. Futhermore, Roger switches back to a more janitorial version of the Star Confederacy uniform--not quite as spiffy as his uniform in SQ5, but still not that bad. This installment finds Roger back to his hold janitorial job aboard the S.S. Deep Ship 86. As he cleans his way through life, however, he stumbles onto a sinister plot which culminates in the abduction of his new semi-love interest, Corpsman Santiago. SQ6 introduces (and promptly kills off) the nefarious Sharpei to plague Roger this time around. All in all, this game is a very sound member of the Space Quest family.
Quest VII: The Unreleased Product
If you're looking for information regarding SQ7, try the Space Quest 7 Rumor Central for all the juicy gossip and a little truth thrown in for good measure! In brief, Scott Murphy is heading up the project, which will probably incorporate elements of 3D. Who knows--perfaps we'll see a whole other side to Roger Wilco in the future!
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