I remember Space Quest. Do you?

picture of Cantina scene from SQ2I’ve been messing about with tech and found myself wandering down memory lane. Why don’t you come with me, help me fill in some gaps?

I started work as a programmer in IT slightly before the IBM PC muscled in and took over. Computer games were a pretty new invention for me and the first I ever encountered was a Dungeons and Dragons game. The name escapes me. It was all done in text (no graphics back then). The opening symbol was a tombstone drawn in lines and crosses etc. It had many levels which you worked your way through. You entered a dungeon, which was a line-drawn box, nothing more. You made you way around using the number keys for movement (no arrows). In the dungeon you might find a magic sword, or armour, or have to kill a monster, which might kill you. If you stayed alive, more of the dungeon was revealed. It was seriously addictive and took up many a lunch break at the office, but it didn’t work on the IBM XT I had at home.

So I thought I’d buy a game to play during the Xmas break. It was Space Quest: the Sarien Encounter. It had ‘real’ graphics – that is, little figures that moved around, using number keys, as I recall. (Feel free to correct me) You (Roger Wilco, janitor of a ship taken over by aliens – you were asleep in the janitor’s cupboard at the time) had to evade the aliens, who shot on sight, get off the space ship, then go through a series of adventures on an alien planet. All great fun and all in sparkling, four-colour, CGA graphics. Wow.

Over the years, the graphics improved as computers evolved and I bought every game as soon as it was out there. One of the things I loved most about it was the designers had a wicked sense of humour, sending up every SF movie that ever existed. You’d recognise bits of Star Wars or Star Trek. In the picture at top left you’ll recognise the Blues Brothers and a bunch of aliens from the famous cantina scene in Star Wars: A New Hope. One of my favourites was a scene from (I think) the third adventure. Roger (you) is wandering around the prison levels of a ship and a being advances. It’s actually easily evaded but it was always soPicture of a scene from Space quest 4 much fun to see what would happen if you didn’t, you saved the game (so you could start again when you got killed) and let it happen. So the alien comes up to Roger and gives him a huge French kiss. Then goes away. You didn’t die. Gosh. Oh well. So you carry on exploring, looking for whatever you had to do to get out of there. Then suddenly, 5, 10 minutes after your encounter with the alien, Roger keels over and a little tiny alien bursts out of his breast and scuttles off, stage right.

When you stopped laughing, you returned to the last point where you saved the game, and avoid the Alien.

What were your favourite computer games? Do you remember Space Quest? And if you do, which were your favourite bits? Give it a whirl. You might win some buckazoids. Or not, as the case may be. But if you’d like a free copy (kindle only) of my new Iron Admiral omnibus (both books in one volume) let me know in your comment.


About Greta van der Rol

I'm an author of fast-paced, action-adventure novels, mainly space opera - although I've been known to write in other genres. I live not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoy photography and cooking when I'm not bent over the computer. I have a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping me in my writing endeavours.

Posted on 10 January 2013, in Science fiction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Funny graphics! No I don’t remember this. I loved Dr. Mario and Tetris, but I didn’t play too many other games.

  2. I was so not a nerd then…the nerdiness came later, I guess. I now envy people who have grown up on the computer interactive games (I guess like D &D) since describing movement comes so easily to them (I enter the room and see…) Whatever those are

    Wonder if “Galaxy Quest” was named from “Space Quest?” All these inside jokes, ah, well.

  3. I recommend Good Old Games (GOG.com) to relieve the nostalgia. They have all the Space Quest games and you can play them on any current PC.

  4. I thought you were talking about the cartoon. Um, it might have been Johnny Quest, but could have sworn there was Space Quest. I’m a late to it gamer. Though I always liked the puzzling things.

  5. Space Quest was the best computer game franchise ever conceived. There were obscure in-jokes (“Darmok + Jalad 4 ever” scrawled on a wall), and meta-humor (the “Two Guys from Andromeda” who were actually the series’ chief designers). Sure, a few obstacles were maddeningly difficult, but all-in-all the games were better than an orat on a stick.
    Alas, Sierra is no more, but I wish someone would pick up the rights to the series, and make a modern sequel.

  6. I loved Space Quest! I also had the King’s Quest series… This is what I did in college while everyone else was out getting drunk and laid, I guess πŸ™‚

  7. I’m amazed that I never encountered Space Quest, it sounds great! But then, it’s probably because I never was much of a gamer – I was more into things like The Interactive Star Trek Technical Manual. I probably missed out by missing Space Quest. πŸ™‚

  8. kerriepaterson

    Yep, I remember Space Quest, and Kings Quest. My favourite’s though were the Leisure Suit Larry series (also by Sierra from memory).

  9. Ooh! Have you seen this?
    Looks like Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy are Kickstarting a new Space-Quest-like game series of their own.

  1. Pingback: Genre as Argument | Neither Here nor There....

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