First published on CubedGamers: 16 September, 2015
The unanticipated critical success of The Odd Gentlemen’s re-imagined King’s Quest has prompted long-term Sierra On-Line fans to speculate whether Activision will choose to resurrect another of Sierra’s classic game franchises. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, Sierra developed and published dozens of titles, emulating the success of King’s Quest by coming up with other “Quest” series and stand alone titles. These efforts helped Sierra to become the most prolific developer of point-and-click adventures. Though never the most polished games – they lacked the budgets of Lucasarts’ titles – Sierra made up for this with sheer number and variety.
Any re-imagined effort will face the same challenges as the Odd Gentlemen encountered with King’s Quest– how to reinterpret the 1990s point-and-click sensibilities of the series for a modern audience. If handled correctly however, there is no reason why the following series shouldn’t succeed.
Charting the mis-adventures of Roger Wilco, a spacefaring janitor and sometimes saviour of the universe, the Space Quest series came to life through six instalments and one remake. After rescuing the Star Generator from the evil Sarien space pirates in Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter, Roger embarked on a series of adventures, including saving his home planet Xenon from an invasion of door-to-door insurance salesmen, rescuing the Two Guys from Andromeda – the creators of the Space Quest series – from the evil Scumsoft Corporation, and facing off against the Sequel Police in the hilariously meta Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers, a time travelling romp whose whole premise was predicated on breaking the forth wall.
Like most of Sierra’s “Quest” games, Space Quest improved as it developed. Many believe Space Quest IV to be the strongest title, mostly due to the hilarious narration provided by Laugh-In’s Gary Owens. However, for this writer, the series peaked with Space Quest V: The Next Mutation. Full of Star Trek pastiches, the plotting is exemplary, telling an exciting story of intergalactic space crime and genetic engineering. Credit also goes out to the remake of Space Quest I. Although Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy were said to be dissatisfied with this version, one has to admire its graphics, the whole game done over in a gloriously retro 1950s sci-fi aesthetic, as seen in Forbidden Planet.