Space Quest 4

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  • Tijn
    Tijn
    Keymaster
    Podcaster
    #5411

    Ok, so after playing & enjoying SQ3 a lot, I was psyched for Space Quest 4. I’ve heard from many people this is their favourite entry in the series. It also has the highest production budget, allegedly costing over a million dollars to make and is the first game in the series to feature voice acting. Also they apparently used motion capture technology to create the life-like realistic character animations.

    The premise is pretty great: Roger is approached by people from the future and is made to jump through a time rift which makes him end up in Space Quest 12. From that point on you keep travelling through time, ending up in various future and past games, including Space Quest 10 and Space Quest 1. The latter is especially funny since it’s all in crude EGA graphics while Roger’s sprite is still in full colour VGA, a thing which the characters you meet actually comment on.

    I can see there are a lot of good ideas in this game, but to be honest… I had kind of a hard time playing this. I don’t mind a brutal Sierra death here and there, but this game seems to really want to kill the player, as there’s instant random death on almost every single screen. If you just stand around a bit too long you’re dead. If you accidentally enter the wrong place you’re dead. The action sequence at the mall is especially gruelling, with two members of the “Sequel Police” firing lasers at you. I’ve had to try this scene at least two dozen times, stumbling through it by trial and error. I came very close to giving up.

    It’s especially jarring since SQ3 was such a smooth ride and I barely even needed any hints, but this game was a big softlock extravaganza. The story was also a bit of a mess to me. I get that randomly travelling through time is inherently chaotic, but it never really made much sense to me even towards the end. Also all that stuff with Roger’s son and his wife really came out of nowhere. I totally wouldn’t have minded any of this if the game hadn’t been such a rough experience, but by the time I did get to the end I’ve just about had it with this game.

    I suppose I had expected much more than what I got, and maybe that’s my fault, but it left me quite disappointed in the end. Which is a shame, because I can see that underneath the rough edges there definitely are some fun ideas here. And in terms of production this game is easily the most ambitious one in the series yet.

    So yeah… not my favourite I’m afraid!

    Shattered
    Shattered
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #5419

    I have to agree with you Tijn. I have no idea why SQ4 is some people’s favorite for the same reasons you stated. I went to Best Buy as a child to buy SQ4 and I was so sad to find out it was CD-ROM only so I had to get SQ5 instead. I wouldn’t realize it for a long time, but that was extremely fortunate because I ended up loving 5 and when I finally got to try 4 later I was extremely disappointed. By far my least favorite of the series.

    Pix
    Pix
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #5423

    Best Buy might not have stocked it but there was a floppy version – it’s the one I played at the time. This and KQ5 were the first VGA games I ever played. I ended up owning them for a few months before I got the PC to actually play them on and went in to borrow the computer labs at my Dad’s university during the school holiday when I was a teen just to play them. The step up in graphics was mind blowing at the time although I was of course missing the sound until I could play at home. I really enjoyed a lot of the little details like the music for each shop fading in and out in the shopping mall, the aforementioned EGA graphics parts, the whole notion of time-travelling between games. I’m sure it took ages but I managed to finish it back at the time at any rate. It’s a bit too familiar for me to really be able to judge it any more. I certainly loved it at the time. It’s a very different tone, darker with less humour.

    The game is fairly notorious for having timing issues on faster PC’s which might have made your experience with the time police worse. This is a very common problem with Sierra games – I can tell you from recent experience they were inescapable on a fairly average 486.

    evilteuton
    evilteuton
    Participant
    Podcaster
    #5446

    Ah that’s a bummer to hear but understandable. I think as a game SQ4 doesn’t quite hold up for the reasons you mentioned.

    However, SQ1 and SQ4 are the only two entries that instantly flash before my eyes when I hear “Space Quest”. They are the two defining titles to me for some reason.

    What I liked about SQ4 was the time travel plot, all the in-jokes and references and the visual style. Forever burned into my brain is that creature patrolling the streets in the beginning – when it sees you, it points and screams. Never forgot it. Years later I finally watch Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and there it is. Just a fun little personal moment 😀

    Not sure why 2+3 left dark spots in my mind. Gonna have to replay them.

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