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Space Quest was Sierra's true crown jewel

Mop Jockey

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I grew up on King's Quest and it was my first introduction to Sierra, to adventure gaming, to fairy tales, and to PC gaming in general, and as such that series will always have a special place in my heart.


For the longest time, by which I mean, until only a few months ago, King's Quest was my favorite computer game series of all time, and was quite honestly a big obsession of mine, a passion I at times got quite overzealous about. 


But recently, more and more, I find myself drawn to Space Quest. I've been a fan of Space Quest since 1997, but it always came at a distant second to my love of KQ. But lately, I've gone on a replay binge of all things Sierra, and I've found that, of all Sierra's series and games, Space Quest is the one I find myself most frequently returning to. I've never been a big fan of Gabriel Knight - I don't hate the series but I've never seen the appeal.


King's Quest has an interesting vibe and a unique spirit, and I am excited that it's officially coming back this year, but I feel KQ is like the gateway drug, if you will, to Sierra. Maybe I'm just burned on fantasy and all of it's tropes, but I find myself wishing more for an official revival of Space Quest; and feel if I had to choose between the KQ game in production or a new SQ quest, I'd choose SQ without any hesitation. 


Space Quest was underrated and undermarketed by Sierra, and is too often overlooked by the adventure game community in favor of KQ or Gabriel Knight. Space Quest is an amazing mixture of science fiction, pop culture and comedy, and messes with and often breaks many common tropes. It's a very unique series, and unlike many of Sierra's series, it also has a relatively consistent tone. Sure, we can argue about art style differences in IVGA or V or VI - But the general sense of jaded cynicism, acidic wit and death humor in the context of an interesting and quite original sci fi universe, with a rockin' soundtrack are elements which can be found in every SQ game, no matter which of the Three Guys was doing the writing.


It's a series that could have stood on it's own without the Sierra brand behind it, it could easily have been a LucasArts game or a Westwood game, it doesn't rely on the 'Quest' moniker or Sierra baggage as much as some of the older lines do, which, having been marketed better, could've been a big time success on par with say, Monkey Island. It had a truly interesting, well-rounded protagonist who, despite his being a galactic loser, we all rooted for; it had just as developed side characters, interesting worlds, lots of laughs, and in some ways, it was ahead of its time; I don't think the same can be said for any of Sierra's other series.


Space Quest was Sierra's true, hidden crown jewel.


(Forgive me - it's 6am here, I haven't slept yet so if I didn't write this as eloquently as I could've, I apologize)


I'm interested in hearing your views. If you agree, disagree, or anything in between.

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  • 6 months later...

There are a lot of factual problems with this.


Space Quest got plenty of marketing and support. Anybody who remembers Sierra games almost always rattles off King’s Quest, then Space Quest (and Leisure Suit Larry).


King’s Quest was the flag ship. It sold more. It appealed to a wider base. Comedy in general is harder to get mass appeal. But this doesn’t mean Space Quest was not a money maker. Space Quest got 6 games. Aside from King’s Quest, only Leisure Suit Larry got as many. You don’t do that if the games aren’t making money. When Sierra first jumped to use professional musicians, King’s Quest 4 got William Goldstein, and Ken Williams got Supertramp drummer Bob Siebenberg for Space Quest 3. When Scott and Mark wanted Gary Owens for narrator for Space Quest 4, Sierra was on board and agreed instead of putting up a fight.


Also, most Sierra games outsold LucasArts by magnitudes. The LucasArts guys have stated their constant frustration that Sierra constantly outsold them by so much.



Ignoring the salient point that Scott and Mark could have never created Space Quest without Ken and Sierra, this could have never been a LucasArts game. The LucasArts guys have stated in interviews they hated the things Space Quest did. (They didn’t name Space Quest, but some Sierra game, but they remembered vague things about dying all the time, like picking up a piece of glass and cutting themselves and dying instantly which they hated. I think they were (mis)remembering Space Quest 3 picking up the sheet metal at the beginning. They felt that the authors were sadistic that hated the player and wanted to kill them.) This led them to things like the no-death policy. Ironically, it was probably Space Quest that help make LucasArts what they became.


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