By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on October 4, 2019
Hello dear readers, and welcome back to our Big Red HQ. As you may remember from the last Big Red Timemachine, I just married an honest to god shepherdess. Now, it might seem strange to marry someone you just met, but I had my reasons. You see, ever since Dennis hooked up with Gretchen (the shepherdess in question), I had a steady supply of mutton coming my way. So you can imagine my disappointment when that same Dennis decided to get rid of her and my meat supply suddenly ceased to be. So, I traveled back in time and picked up Gretchen right after Dennis left her on the side of the road and raced off in some fuel guzzling race monster.
Now we're happily married and I am one happy mutton eating Sadhonker once more. Normally, one would guess that a shepherdess would be quite upset when people started eating her sheep, but you couldn't be more wrong. You see, Gretchen didn't want to be a shepherdess She didn't want to roam the hills all day long, tending what has to be one of the most stupid bunch of animals on this (or any, for that matter) planet. So, she happily agreed to keep up appearances for her family and keep the supply of mutton coming our way. Plus, as it turns out, this bashful looking young woman is amazing at "tending my flock", so to speak, so I've got nothing to complain about. Man, the things she can do with a staff... WHILE SHEPHERDING, YOU BUNCH OF PERVERTS!!!
The only thing that currently worries me is, as per usual, the absence of my esteemed colleague. Two weeks ago, he walked off, mumbling something about a great catastrophe being at hand and how he was the only one smart enough to save the galaxy. Well, more power to him, I say! Oh, wait one second ladies and gentlemen. What was that Gretchen? Can your other shepherdess friends come over for an evening of barbecue, drinking games and pillow fights? Sure, why not! Just remember to get more beer from the store, it seems to have vanished somehow. Damn, why do I feel like a janitor around here. Is it because I'm always cleaning up after other people? And while I'm not one to point fingers, let's just say it's mostly one person who would like to be addressed as another term for a rapid or explosive burning of superheated gasses in a fire, caused when oxygen rapidly enters an oxygen-depleted environment...
Hmmm, janitor... cleaning up messes... hold on a minute! That gives me an idea! Buckle up people, because it's time for us to take another trip through time and space, so let's get going! Today, we're setting our sights on the year 1986. At least that is where our journey will start. It will end, before we return to our Big Red HQ, in 1995. Why, you ask? Well, because today we're not looking at one, not two, not even three games. Today, we're looking at no less than six games! It is time for us to done our overalls and grab a broom. Get in your janitor mindset, dear readers, as we travel back in time towards... Space Quest!
The world was first introduced to Space Quest and its main "hero", Roger Wilco, waaaaay back in 1986, when two guys from Sierra wanted to add a bit more fun to the point-'n-click genre. They did so by making a game with a science fiction setting, centered around Roger, who just happens to be the unlikeliest of heroes: a janitor aboard a space ship. The developers wanted to provide their audience with something more than the adventure "set in the dark ages, hero saves princess and live happily ever after" games that Sierra was mainly producing at the time. So they said goodbye to the past and went into the future... and outer space!
At the time, this was quite a gamble, but man did it pay off in the end. Space Quest became a hit series and spawned six games before getting finally cancelled after the release of Space Quest 6 in 1995. So what made Space Quest so hugely successful? Personally, I believe it was the decision to make an ordinary man the hero, combined with all kinds of inter-galactic tomfoolery and a veritable plethora of jokes, puns and references to contemporary pop culture that made the game easily accessible for a very wide audience.
The games quickly garnered a loyal group of fans, who were ever hungry for new adventures. If you're a bit younger than I am and look at the first few games of the series, you might not get what all the fuss is about. To be honest, with just 16 colors and a resolution lower than an average modern toaster, the first three Space Quest games aren't much to look at. Please remember though, that we're talking about the 80's here, a decade in which computer games were still in their upcoming phase. Back then, we weren't used to full HD or even 4K resolutions, let alone have the computers to manage such an output without destroying the entire world in a massive explosion.
By the time that Space Quest IV rode into town, 1991, things had changed. This game supported a whopping 256 colors and looked damn awesome! Overall, the gameplay hadn't changed much. Every game was an example of a true point-'n -click adventure in the best Sierra tradition. Talk to a lot of people, find objects, combine them and solve puzzles while playing a kick-ass story... oh yeah, and try not to die! Yes, the Space Quest games had the player die from time to time if they did something wrong. Now, in many games, this quickly becomes a drag, but not in Space Quest! Here, dying was actually funny. While one felt really sorry for Roger (because he was just a likeable guy), weeing all the various way the developers came up with for him to meet his untimely demise was truly funny! One of them, from Space Quest III it was, I believe, saw Roger getting sucked into outer space through a very tiny hole in his ship's hull and brought the world one of the most brilliant one-liners ever: "Sudden Decompression Sucks!"
So, how did we go about playing Space Quest? Well, the first three games had a text command-based gameplay mechanic in which the player could maneuver Roger through the environments by using the arrow keys and type commands to make him interact with other characters and items in the game world. As it did for the graphical portion of the games, Space Quest IV also changed a lot as far as controls were concerned. Instead of typing commands, the developers added a graphical interface and provided the player with various icons for various actions. This made navigating the world quite a bit easier, let me tell you.
The one thing that didn't change throughout the series is the sheer amount of humor embedded in the games and the haplessness of the games' protagonist. It doesn't matter if you play Space Quest 1 or Space Quest 6, you will easily recognize the satirical approach to situations and the numerous parodies of various other sci-fi series, be it movies or TV shows. Everything that had anything to do with science fiction ran the risk of getting ridiculed by the Space Quest developers. And although parodies aren't always loved by fans of the show being ridiculed, Space Quest managed to do so time after time and remain funny every damn time!
On the one hand, it is really sad that no new Space Quest games are being made anymore. But, on the other hand, maybe the phrase "Quit while you're ahead" does hold some truth here, because Space Quest is still loved by a great big number of gamers from around the globe and hasn't gone the road of being squeezed for every little morsel of half-baked ideas a lot of modern game series and movies/ TV shows are destined to go down. And why shouldn't they? It was a series that made people laugh while, at the same time, challenging them to solve cool puzzles and be part of a grand and truly hilarious universe! And while we're on the subject of quitting while being ahead, it is time for me to return us all to the relative safety of the Big Red HQ, where my brand new wife and her girlfriends are undoubtedly and most anxiously awaiting my return.
Honey, I'm home... but Gretchen, why are you crying? All five of your beautiful shepherdess friends are here, aren't they? What's that? You bought enough beer for all of us, put it in the refrigerator but when you went back to check it disappeared once again? Don't worry girl, it's not your fault. Whose fault it is then? Well, I've got a sneaking suspicion about who our beer thief is... and I will deal with him accordingly when he returns home! Oh well, there's nothing for it then. I suppose we can have our party without beer. It's just a shame, because sober pillow fights are much less fun. What was that, dear? Why are pillow fights less fun sober? Well that's easy. Because that way, the clothes stay on...
And with that, we have arrived back at our glorious Big Red HQ. Wait. what are these sheep doing in the control room? Dennis! Did you leave the door open again? Dennis? DENNIS?! Damn, where is that guy? And why is there a shepherdess dress on the floor. and a pair of undies. and a bra.? Oh, okay, never mind; I think I just discovered what Dennis is doing. Or should I say "who" Dennis is doing. Oh well! For now, this is your old pal, Sadhonker, signing off and wishing you a lot of fun playing classic games! Until next time, when Dennis will take you on a trip through time and space in the next episode of THE BIG RED TIMEMACHINE!
...DAMN YOU DENNIS!!!...
1986 - 1995