Space Quest is a series of six comedy sci-fi adventure games for the PC created for Sierra On-Line between 1986 and 1995. Each game followed the adventures of Roger Wilco, a janitor who has a habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, which usually ends up in him saving the universe.
Space Quest I
The first game in the series, Space Quest: The Sarien Encounter, introduced a space janitor working on a space ship. The player was given the chance to enter a name for the character, but by default the name was Roger Wilco which later in the series became the only name for the protagonist. At the beginning of the game Wilco wakes up after an on-shift nap in the broom closet to find that the ship is under attack by the Sariens and the auto-destruct has been activated. He discovers that the Sariens stole the Star Generator, which could be used as a weapon of mass destruction. After escaping the ship in an escape pod he crash lands on a desert planet, where he finds himself a ship and goes after the Sariens. He boards their ship, activates the self-destruct on the Star Generator and escapes - thereby saving the civilized universe. In return for his services, the people of his home planet Xenon award him the Golden Mop.
The game was originally released using 16-colour EGA graphics in October 1986. The game was created using Sierra's Adventure Game Interpreter (AGI) engine which combined 2D graphics with a text parser. The game was later remade using 256-colour VGA graphics and re-released in August 1991 under the title Space Quest I: Roger Wilco in the Sarien Encounter. This later version was created using Sierra's Creative Interpreter (SCI) and featured a fully graphical point-and-click interface with no text parser.
Space Quest II
In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, despite being a hero of Xenon, Roger Wilco has been transferred to the Xenon Orbital Station 4 as the head (and only) janitor. The player learns that the Sarien attack in the first game was the work of the evil mastermind Sludge Vohaul. Out for revenge, Vohaul kidnaps Wilco and sends him to the Labion labour mines. After escaping, Wilco finds his way to Vohaul's asteroid base where he discovers the latest evil plan - to send millions of cloned insurance salesmen to Xenon! Wilco manages to destroy the base and escape, once again saving his home planet. At the end of the game Wilco is in an escape capsule running out of air, and he enters a deep cryo sleep.
The was released in November 1987 and used the same AGI engine that was originally used in the first game. Technically it performed exactly the same as the first game, using a combination of 2D graphics and a text parser interface.
Space Quest III
Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon picks up where the second game left off, with Roger Wilco still in cryo sleep floating through space in an escape pod. At the start of the game the pod is picked up by an automated garbage freighter and Wilco wakes up. Wilco rebuilds a ship named the Aluminum Mallard and escapes the freighter, at which point he is free to explore space. He soon discovers he is being hunted by Arnoid the Annihilator who is retrieving a debt for a mail-order Wilco placed for a whistle in the second game. After dealing with the android Wilco discovers that the evil video games company ScumSoft has kidnapped the Two Guys from Andromeda (creators of the Space Quest series) and is forcing them to create video games. Wilco infiltrates the ScumSoft base on the planet of Pestulon; rescues the two programmers; defeats Elmo Pug, the CEO of ScumSoft; and escapes.
The game was released in March 1989. This was the first Space Quest game to use the SCI engine, which was still an early version using 16-colour graphics at the time. Whilst it still retained a text parser, it was also the first game in the series to allow movement commands to be issued with the mouse.
Space Quest IV
Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers takes place just after the last game. After rescuing the Two Guys from Andromeda, Wilco is sat in a bar on Magmetheus when he is taken outside by two Sequel Police. He is shown a message from Sludge Vohaul, the villain from the second game, and is about to be killed when two mysterious guys turn up and throw him through a time rip. Wilco finds himself on Xenon, but in the Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II era. Xenon is all but destroyed after being taken over by a computer-backup of Vohaul's brain. Wilco makes his way past sequel police and zombies until he finds himself in possession of a time machine. Wilco uses this machine to visit Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros and Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter before returning to Space Quest XII to defeat Vohaul once again, as well as rescuing his unborn son - Roger Wilco Jr. - who returns Wilco to his correct timeline.
The game was released in March 1991. Using an updated version of the SCI engine, this was the first Space Quest game to use 256-colour graphics, and was also the first game in the series to completely abandon the text parser for a point-and-click approach. It was also one of the first video games ever to use motion capture animation. The CD-ROM version was released in December 1992, becoming the first Space Quest game to feature full speech.
Space Quest V
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation is some time after the previous game, and Roger Wilco has enrolled at StarCon Academy. Wilco cheats to pass the exams, and is given command of the garbage scow SCS Eureka. Wilco is sent on a number of small missions and meets the future mother of his son, before the main plot begins when Wilco discovers that a mutagenic disease is spreading through the galaxy. Wilco finds that StarCon's flagship the SCS Goliath, commanded by Raems T. Quirk, is the main infection point and Wilco must sacrifice his own ship in order to end the plague and save the day.
The game was released in February 1993. It was the first and only game in the series not to be developed in-house by Sierra On-line, and was instead developed by their sister company Dynamix. It was also the first and only game in the series to be sponsored by an external company. The telecommunications company Sprint Nextel sponsored the game, and their logo appeared in the game in numerous locations. The game used the same SCI engine used in the fourth game, however it did not feature full speech. The game was controlled by a point-and-click interface identical to the fourth game.
Space Quest 6
Space Quest 6: The Spinal Frontier with Wilco being court-martialed for the events of the previous game. He is stripped of his StarCon commission, reduced back to the rank of janitor and transferred to the SCS DeepShip 86. The game properly begins when the crew are sent on shore-leave, and Wilco is beamed down to the surface of Polysorbate LX. Wilco wins himself enough money for a motel room before being kidnapped by two thugs. Wilco escapes and makes his way back to the ship, where he begins to uncover the reasons for his kidnapping. It emerges that a plot is being hatched to grant immortality to the rich but dying widow Sharpei, by transferring her consciousness into a nanite that can take over another body. The original plan was to transfer her into Wilco's body, as it was assumed that nobody would miss a janitor, however with Wilco's escape they instead kidnap Stellar Santiago. Wilco convinces the doctor who carried out the procedure to help him, and is shrunk and injected into Santiago's body. There he must destroy the nanite infection and expel Sharpei.
The game was released in 1995 and used the last official game to be released in the series. It used the final version of the SCI engine which allowed Super VGA graphics with 256 colours at 640×480 resolution, and featured full speech. A revamped version of the point-and-click interface used in the last two games was used to control this one.
Space Quest VII
A seventh game, Space Quest VII: Return to Roman Numerals, was planned and development begun in 1996. A trailer for the game was released with The Space Quest Collection. However, poor sales of Grim Fandango lead to many companies dropping adventure games in favour of more popular genres, and Space Quest VII was cancelled when Vivendi Games took over Sierra. The project was restarted in 1999, but failed at a very early stage.
Another attempt to revive the series was in 2002 by Escape Factory, who began work on a game that was simply titled Space Quest. Details about the game are vague and conflicting. According to some sources all of the game's designers had played the previous games before work began on the project, however according to Space Quest 6 designer Josh Mandel not have resembled the rest of the series:
Why? Because the team at Escape Factory was specifically told by Sierra NOT to even PLAY or LOOK AT the existing Space Quest games before working on the new game. Now, Escape Factory has some former Sierra employees, so it's likely that they brought some knowledge of the series to the table. How much prior information they were free to incorporate into the project, I don't know. However, it's clear that Sierra did NOT WANT the project to resemble the existing SQ games, let alone closely follow the canon. — Josh Mandel
What is known for definite is that the game was not to be an adventure game like the rest of the series, and was to be released on the Xbox rather than the PC. The project was cancelled in 2003 after eighteen months of work.
After the cancellation of the Space Quest VII the series remained popular. After some time work began on some fan-made new stories for Roger Wilco. So far three have been released:
- Space Quest: The Lost Chapter was created by a fan known only as Vonster using Sierra's AGI and was released in 2000.
- Space Quest 0: Replicated was created by Jeff Stewart using AGI and was released in 2003.
- Space Quest IV.5: Roger Wilco And The Voyage Home was created by Chris Jones using Adventure Game Studio and was released in June 2008.