Tag Archives: Roger Wilco

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.

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Space Quest V: The Next Mutation

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Dynamix
Year: 1993
Platform: DOS

The two guys from Andromeda split up before this game, leaving Mark Crowe as primary designer while Scott Murphy pursued other interests. Whether or not this development led to a much improved sequel is debatable, as besting Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers did not come with a high bar. Nevertheless, Space Quest V is a playable, albeit short, adventure back in the spirit of the first three games.

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Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco And The Time Rippers

Year: 1991
Designer: Mark Crowe & Scott Murphy

One one would think that taking a previously hilarious science fiction character and throwing him into a time travel story would be the easiest formula for success, but Space Quest IV is one of the laziest adventure games I have ever played, putting me to sleep even with a walkthrough at hand.

Roger Wilco, per usual, is gloating about his success in the previous Space Quest games when he’s captured by Vohaul’s goons. At the last minute, he’s saved by some mysterious men and zapped headlong into Space Quest XII, in the middle of his now desolate home planet. After figuring out where he is, Roger must thwart events happening in the future (a la Marty and Doc), save his own skin, and get back to his own time. All along, he’ll be traveling to other Space Quest games to do so, trying to avoid Vohaul’s police force.


Sadly, most of what happens during the game feels more like it belongs to Leisure Suit Larry’s universe than Roger’s (including an over the top narrator). Very few of the game’s puzzles relate to science fiction, and are often tacky and obtuse (which also describes the graphics), including some unbelievably boring arcade games (e.g. making burgers!). Worse yet, many of the puzzles require extensive backtracking; I think I spent more time walking from one place to another than I did interacting with the game world. The only interesting diversion is a trip to Ulence Flats from Space Quest 1, but this excursion lasts only a few short minutes.

When Sierra updated their engines for point’n’click play, their games in every one of their long-standing series temporarily suffered (even Police Quest 3, which I enjoyed). It was as if the designers and producers spent so much time playing with their new toy that they forgot what made their games great in the first place. Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers isn’t quite as awful as tomorrow’s entry, but the diminishing return on your IQ will be about the same after playing. I can’t recommend this game to anyone, even to fans of the series.

Space Quest II: Vohaul’s Revenge

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1987
Platform: DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, Macintosh

Review: After reading multiple reviews of this game in particular and of the Space Quest series as a whole, I have come to the conclusion that there may possibly be only one living human besides myself that believes this is the best game of the lot. And since that other person is my brother, and since he doesn’t remember anything he did more than six weeks ago, perhaps the following review should be taken with a grain of salt.

Once again you play Roger Wilco, janitor extraordinaire. There is really no plot to speak of, with the running premise being avoiding death while accidentally saving the universe once more. And if you thought dying was annoying in the The Sarien Encounter, be prepared to find yourself in a padded room after playing Vohaul’s Revenge. Not only are there more ways to axe yourself, there are more instant-death rooms, unavoidable except by luck. To top it off, the game designers will mock you every step of the way, insulting your very being with every mistake.

Perhaps a bit more NPC interaction would have spiced the game up, as would have some good production values.  The graphics and sound have not improved since the last installment and neither has the parser. Also, a few of the puzzles have very unobvious solutions. Though, considering I won the game in a couple of days, nothing is all too difficult.

There is one way to put yourself in an unwinnable state, but it is so flippin’ hilarious when you realize what happened that restoring back thirty minutes is worth the mistake. I was actually glad I screwed up.

To sum up, Vohaul’s Revenge has very little to offer from a gamer’s perspective, despite a couple of crafty puzzles. But I found myself laughing so damn much I didn’t care. In fact, I recommend this game to anyone who has the same sense of humour as me.  Or my brother.


Contemporary RatingLow. The parser is still weak and the game is not friendly.

Cruelty Rating:  Nasty.  You must save on every single screen because there is a way to die on every single screen.  The walking dead situation isn’t quite cruel, because you have a pretty good idea something went wrong, and you’ll likely have separate save files ready when the time comes.

Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Sierra
Year: 1986
Platform: DOS, Amiga, Apple II, Apple IIgs, Atari ST, Macintosh

Review: When I was young, my selection of adventure games was, for the most part, limited to shareware (mostly junk) and Sierra games. But while my parents invested in King’s QuestPolice QuestLeisure Suit Larry, and ManhunterSpace Quest was left off the shopping lists. And even though I knew about this series and was intrigued, I never put it on my Christmas list either. So approximately sixteen years after this adventure was first released, I got my hands on a copy. It was well worth the wait.

The premise behind the game is about as sophisticated as your typical plot on the original Battlestar Gallactica. Possibly, this could be the point. You play Roger Wilco, a space janitor with no skills, or work ethic for that matter. When your ship is raided by the Sariens, you must escape and foil their plans to use the Star Generator for their own universe domination. What follows is less of a story but a piecing together of slapstick humour, crafty puzzles, and enough untimely deaths to make Wile E. Coyote blush.

It baffles me that so many adventurers hate dying. This never bothered me when I was a kid, and still doesn’t phase me. In fact, one of the primary reasons I get frustrated with current adventures is that there is usually no way to screw up. When you never have to worry about making a mistake or (gasp!) death, you can go head first into every task without so much as lifting a neuron. For me, that removes the innate challenge that a real puzzle presents. Not every problem in reality is guess-and-check. Sometimes you just have to guess and hope.


With that said, Space Quest does such a marvelous job of finding creative, unexpected ways for Roger to die that I simply had to discover them all. Lucky for me, I found a document on the web that detailed every death, so instant gratification was ever-ready. And with the ‘save’ and ‘restore’ functions one keystroke away, I never became frustrated.  However, I was lucky.  There are two distinct ways to put the game in an unwinnable situation.  One I experienced only made me have to restore back about ten minutes or so.  The other, which I avoided, requires one to start the game over.  It’s unlikely that you’ll encounter it if you’re thorough, but it’s still there.

Other than that the game was very well designed. Not only are most puzzles logical and clever, there are often multiple solutions.  This offers a good deal of replay value and a way for different breeds of adventurers to hack away. The production values are adequate, though the parser is fairly poor when compared to its peers.

But what it all comes down to is comedy. The deluge of punchlines and silly antics never stops, so if your sense of humour is in line with the writers’, then you’ll like The Sarien Encounter.  If after fifteen minutes you don’t find yourself amused, then you’ll be hard pressed to enjoy the rest of the game.  Or the rest of the series, for that matter.

Like most Sierra games, this one received a VGA update in the early 90’s, though I haven’t played much of that version, which seemed to lose some of the original’s charm.

Contemporary Rating: Low.  The parser doesn’t always understand some reasonable commands, which would frustrate new players.

Cruelty Rating:  Cruel.  Having to play the entire game over again by missing something near the beginning is the main reason this scale exists.