Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter
Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter is a comedic graphic adventure puzzle video game developed and published by Sierra On-Line in October 1986 for MS-DOS, and later ported to various home computers of the day. It is the first game in the Space Quest series and uses the Adventure Game Interpreter. The game was primarily designed by Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy who go by the moniker "Two Guys From Andromeda." A VGA remake was released in 1991 called Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter.
In the game, you play as Roger Wilco, a janitor on a space station that was just attacked by aliens so they could obtain the Star Generator. Luckily, you were dozing in a closet at the time, so they overlooked you when they were killing everyone else on board. Now, you're the only person left who can stop them, which is a bit disheartening since you don't actually have any useful skills. You must hilariously bumble your way through a variety of situations in the hope of saving the galaxy!
My cousin had Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge back in the late 1980s, and we played it on his Tandy 1000. Since the game was a sequel, I knew there was a first game, but only had a vague idea of what happened from reading the comic in the manual. It wasn't until years later until I was able to play the game. At first, I found the slightly weaker graphics to be a bit of a turn off, but the game's humor quickly made me appreciate it. I made it to Deltaur before getting stuck. A few years later, I played the game again from the beginning and finally beat it.
I own a digital copy of this game in the Space Quest Collection on Steam. I have beaten the original DOS port.
Best Version: MS-DOS
— This section contains spoilers! —
- The game has a lot of hilarious dialogue. Much of it is laugh-out-loud funny. It also satires many different science fiction films.
- The title song is quite nice.
- Other than the wonderful title song, the game is pretty lacking in audio.
- The game suffers from the typical Sierra mentality of punishing the player with death for pretty much every action except the correct one. Thankfully, there is some pretty hilarious dialogue for when it happens, so it's not too annoying.
- The poor controls and monotonous game play of the land speeder action sequence isn't very fun.
- Even though ports were made to superior platforms — like the Amiga and Apple IIgs — none of the graphics or sound are reworked to take advantage of the superior hardware.
- The game's manual is awfully spartan.
- The game has several ways to put the game into an unwinnable state. The one with the salesman is extremely difficult to predict, and will get a lot of players stuck. There are also some with the space ship, and crossing the land bridge, though they're a bit more obvious.
- At one point in the game you're required to win big at a slot machine in order to progress, but you can also die from it. Placing the player's progress on an entirely random event is bad game design.
A non-playable demo of Space Quest is showcased in Sierra AGI Demo number 1.