Posted in Retro Gaming

Space Quest V: Back to space school

(This is part of my journey going playing through 1993’s Space Quest V: The Next Mutation. You can follow the entire series on the Retro Gaming page.)

I realized that it has been an incredibly long time since I last played a Space Quest game. I had been making good time through the series, playing the first four games all in the Year of Our Lord 2014. But then the fourth game kind of sapped my enthusiasm for the series and I started in on other stuff and kind of forgot about it.

By the way, you can revisit the other playthroughs real quick:

It’s time to un-forget, because this is a series that is on my gaming bucket list. I want to have said that I played and beat all the Space Quest games, which means that I have two to go. Space Quest V came out two years after 1991’s Space Quest IV and features a step up in graphics as a result. Unfortunately, it also marked the end of the “Two Guys from Andromeda” tag-team (only Mark Crowe worked on it; Scott Murphy was working on Police Quest 3 at the time. It also lacked the amazing narration of IV (which happily returned for Space Quest 6). Anyway, I’ve never played it, so let’s see what The Next Mutation has to offer!

As the game begins, former interstellar janitor Roger Wilco has enrolled at StarCon Academy with the dream to become a starship captain. It doesn’t look too promising, though; he’s angering his teachers by stealing time in the ship simulator and generally slacking off. Wilco mentions in his opening captain’s log that he’s still haunted by seeing his son in the future and learning a little about the woman who would eventually steal his heart.

Instead of blasting off to the stars, Wilco careens into an unexpected aptitude test. Since I as the player haven’t studied either, there’s only one thing the two of us can do:

Cheat. Cheat brazenly and without hesitation. I think I scored a 100%, not bad for my first time at StarCon.

Punished for being late to class, Wilco is ordered to polish the academy crest. No doubt, this will call upon his extensive skills as a former janitor. StarCon is more or less a Starfleet Academy-type situation, but there are nods to other franchises, such as the Star Wars-esque windows up there and the woman playing Missile Command. Man, how far have we come in the realm of video gaming!

As he’s polishing up the crest on the floor, Wilco is interrupted by a tour of an ambassador by Captain Quirk (Space Quest V is pretty much a Star Trek parody through-and-through, so just go with it). Roger looks up and sees the mystery girl from his future, his one true love… and he stammers all over the place like the star dork he is.

The ambassador is more than just a potential future spouse; she’s a strong-willed crusader who’s trying to get StarCon to do something about “Sludge Bandits” making a mess all over the galaxy. I love that Roger walks by, sees her through the window, and then plasters himself against it like a homesick puppy dog. I love less the fact that this game really, really likes to use a Homer Simpson “D’OH!” vocal quote any time that Roger trips and falls. I’m sure it was edgy in 1993, but it’s just annoying here.

Having cheated his way to an A on the test, Wilco is awarded his captaincy at last. Unfortunately, it’s on a garbage scow named Eureka that has a crew of underperforming misfits. Guess cheaters never prosper?

Initial impressions? The pixel art is really well done, with lots of great details and clever little in-jokes to discover, but the lack of speech is a noticeable absence after Space Quest IV. I’m also pretty underwhelmed with the musical score, since that’s left to pick up the burden in the sound department. But here’s hoping there are laughs ahead!

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