First impressions

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  • Tijn

    I’m currently about halfway through my first playthrough of Space Quest 1 (EGA). Although having played this (and the rest of the series) before, I’m not sure if I’ve ever played them all the way through. I’m fairly certain I’ve never made much progress with this first game, so in a way I’m going in fresh.

    I expected this game to be hard as nails, as old Sierra games are. And it kinda is, as there’s death in almost every screen, but to tell you the truth it’s not half as bad as I thought it would be.

    So far I’ve not needed a whole lot of hints and things are flowing kind of naturally. The puzzles all kind of make sense and nothing seems overly complicated, so honestly this is all kind of a pleasant surprise!

    The last thing I did was the action sequence crossing the Kerona desert and that was utter shite, as all action sequences in adventure games are. But even that isn’t too bad if you use some save scumming.

    So yeah, looking forward to the second half, so far it’s kinda great!


    I wouldn’t say it’s too bad but you may find it’s harder than you think later on. Without giving too much away, there is an item you need to get right at the start in order to finish the game. It’s cruelly easy to miss through no real fault of your own.

    I’ve finished the VGA SQ1 and 2 this morning. These games are amazingly brief going back to them. I really enjoyed the 50’s sci-fi style artwork for the SQ1 remake and the MT-32 soundtrack adds a lot. I prefer it to the original going back after all this time.

    As for the fan-made SQ2 VGA, it’s not quite as good but still extremely well produced for a fan-game. It’s faithful to the original so there weren’t too many surprises on the way. It did contain a complete remake of Trolls Tale (by Al Lowe) as an arcade game late in the game – that I definitely didn’t expect. Knowing all the puzzles is a problem with these fan remakes, you get through them in no time. A new game from these guys would have been way more fun. Speaking of which, it’s Space Quest – The Lost Chapter next which takes place between SQ2 and 3 apparently.


    Just finished the first one, and it’s also the first classic Sierra adventure I’ve actually finished.

    I hear that’s what those games are all about but to be honest, I’m not a big fan of the game humiliating me constantly. First you die, then it insults you for doing so. I feel like playing a game written by 10-year-olds.

    That said, most of the game isn’t too hard, but some “puzzles” are just pure insanity. To find certain required items, you need not only look at the right object in the room, but you also have to stand at the right spot while doing so. This is positively malicious. A similar one is that you need to walk past the right tiny spot in order to find the entrance to one area, that is not visually distinct from any of its surroundings.

    There are multiple barriers that, once crossed, keep you from returning to find an item you need later, so even when you dodged one of them, you can still be trapped, having to replay a bigger part of the game.

    Ultimately, I didn’t mind having to replay two sections after realizing I probably missed an item, BUT I would have hated it a lot if I hadn’t gotten the hint from Tijn that I was, indeed, missing an item.

    The action scenes are horrible, the gambling is painful and it’s another case of malicious puzzle design that you can break the gambling machine before you have all the money you need.

    There are at least two spots in which you can miss important information, one of which I only found because I was actually trying to provoke another death scene.

    The dying part is more or less about the game, to be honest. At least you know you’ve messed up.

    I think it’s kinda cool that there are multiple solutions to some puzzles, but maybe a single solution, but making that less evil would have helped the game.


    I’m still undecided as to what my opinion of these types of games are, with their evil puzzles and lots of ways to screw yourself over.
    In some ways I’m reminded of a lot of old action games on console and arcade from the era.
    You weren’t supposed to beat them on your first run, you were supposed to keep trying them over and over, finding new secrets and items along the way and getting a little further each time.
    The main thing that bothers me is consistency and signalling. It’s when the game makes a point of teaching you the logic of its mechanics, then randomly expects you to discard that for a single case.
    I’m sure there’s more examples, but the one that comes to my mind is after you crash land. I instinctively type “look around” on every new screen, but in this case you won’t see the survival kit unless you type “look at pod”.
    There’s not even any puzzle justification for this. It just arbitrarily changes the rules for a single case.
    That’s the main thing that bothers me – when you actually had the solution to a puzzle, but the game makes you feel like you’re on completely the wrong track just because you didn’t do some pointless thing exactly right.
    Playing over and over again wouldn’t bother me so much if they did that better.


    Beat the VGA version of SQ1 this afternoon with my children (hopefully that doesn’t make me a bad parent). Even with detours such as them badgering me to repeatedly push the “DO NOT PRESS” button or walking through the lasers, we beat it in less than a couple hours. I can’t believe how short the game is when you know what to do. And I’m pretty sure I spent like $50 of 1990 money on it, but I guess that’s why the game is mean to you with all the deaths and unwinnable scenarios.

    I actually had a couple false starts because I forgot some items back on the Arcadia.

    It was great to relive this game again. It’s amazing how childhood memory works because even if I forgot to pick something up, I always remembered what it was when I needed it. I was able to immediately recall the solution to each puzzle. To compare that to adult formed memories, I’m also replaying Myst 4 which I played probably 15~ish years ago and I do not remember much of that game at all.

    My kid’s favorite parts were walking into the shuttle bay without a spacesuit and crash landing in medieval Europe. My son was terrified of the Borat and left the room until he was gone. =)

    Onto SQ2! I might also try the original SQ1, but I’m also tempted to just watch a playthrough of it.


    @TigerQuoll: The worst part is that you don’t only have to look at the pod, you need to stand in the right spot when doing so. This is pure evil.

    : I tried to press the “Do not Press” button, but I couldn’t find the syntax for it, the game didn’t accept anything I tried. I guess I missed out on a brilliant death scene.


    Back in the day I bounced off the EGA graphics then later the VGA version’s opening with a timer and random encounters. Though retried the VGA edition with the club this month and finished it quite quickly.

    One thing that helped me enjoy it much more this time was embracing the save-often ethos. Calling it “save scumming” gives the technique a bad rap, especially for a game with so much trial and error. And frankly I no longer have any shame about using a walk-through once I’ve devoted a few tries and nights sleeping on a puzzle. At this stage of my life I don’t have the time I used to, and there are plenty of other games to enjoy as well.

    All that said, the VGA version also has the magnet to help with the slot machine, speed setting to make Roger walk faster, and other quality-of-life stuff like the success tone to clarify when you’ve accomplished something significant.

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