Space Quest 1: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter DOS Front Cover

Developer: Sierra
Publisher: Sierra
Year: 1991
Platform: DOS, Mac, Amiga

Part of the wave of Sierra early 90’s remakes of the first games in all their popular series, Space Quest fared little better than the rest. Though receiving an “upgrade” in interface, sound, and graphics, I found this to be much less charming and enjoyable than the game it was supposed to be improving.

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter DOS Roger at the Arcada's central computer

With some minor exceptions, this is a step for step remake of the original. And to be fair, they did well in making some of the puzzles less obnoxious (primarily the slot machine) and made the not-too-difficult but dreadfully boring Kerona skimmer arcade sequence skippable. Self-destruct sequences come with a handy on-screen timer now instead of forcing you to guess (which never made sense). And the original had the annoying parser that doesn’t pause real-time while you type, though I can’t say the switch to the standard Sierra icons really helped. Icons for taste and smell are added, neither of which are necessary for any puzzle and don’t produce enough entertaining responses to be worth the addition.

The Space Quest series was never really known for its plotting, and I’ve always come for the satire, the gags, and the entertaining deaths. I want to say that the remake fell short in these areas, but honestly the gags and the deaths are mostly the same. The VGA version even occasionally throws in the Two Guys from Andromeda (the game designers) mocking you, including one amusing instant replay death. But I honestly had a hard time enjoying anything about this version because the graphics (like in the Leisure Suit Larry remake) are tacky and garish and the music is dull and lifeless. Don’t get me wrong; the sixteen colors and PC speaker sounds of the original weren’t exactly riveting, but at least my imagination could fill in some of the blanks. Here I felt assaulted every second by pastels and MIDI jazz. Just look at this inventory screen below and try to tell me what the fuck any of those things are.

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter DOS Your inventory
Yup, a pile of garbage.

On top of that, the gameplay ain’t exactly smooth. Walking around in the Kerona desert is a nightmare. Sometimes walking to the left side of the screen will send you north, which would be fine if it weren’t for a spider droid hell bent on your intestinal fluids. The way to actually outrun the spider is to increase the character’s walking speed from the control menu. And when you enter Orat’s cave, trying to hide behind the rock is unimaginably more difficult then it was in the original.

Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter DOS Roger hides for cover as the Sarien Spider Droid and the Orat are about to meet! Space Quest: Chapter I - The Sarien Encounter Amiga Meeting the not so nice Orat.

Trust me on this one. That position Roger is on the left took me four tries. On the right screenshot, just a quick down, left, down, right on the keypad and easy does it.

It seems most folks who’ve reviewed both games tend to prefer the VGA version, so you don’t have to take my word for it. It’s certainly easier. The walking dead situations still exist, but are perhaps easier to avoid as well. I think I just miss the good ol’ typing parser. Now get off my lawn.

4 thoughts on “Space Quest 1: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter”

        1. Yeah, I think we all tend to have a bias for the things we experience first, whether they’re the original or the sequel. I even prefer the original Shadowgate despite the recent remake being way better.

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