Space Quest is a game franchise that was first released in 1986, and saw installments in 1987, 1989, and then we had the release in 1991 of Roger Wilco vs the Time Rippers. In this franchise, the fourth game includes something fascinating and interesting. These games had let you travel through space at light speed, eat intergalactic foodstuffs, save the universe multiple times, shoot down spaceships, create a star and travel through time and dimensions, but it was in Space Quest IV they let you have
half a conversation
with a woman.
Puttin’ a fold because cw: sexism and some transphobiaaaaa,Continue Reading →
I’ve been playing a bunch of the Space Quest games lately. Probably not going to Game Pile them, because really, they’re not actually that good and I don’t have anything that feels that worthwhile to say about any individual element in each game. The whole, however, deserves mention.
There’s a very specific type of joke in Space Quest. It takes this very simple form when you look at an object:
This is either a quadrilateralising hyperdimensional retronetropic core refolder disjunction entity, or one of those cheap end tables from Ikea.
Super detailed thing you couldn’t possibly recognise, incredibly mundane and obvious thing. That’s it. This is a joke the game series overwhelmingly uses. When I noticed this today, I went back and double checked a bunch of stuff in the games and realised that it was really core to a lot of how the games’ universe worked. They’re almost all about high-tech problems and low-tech solutions, about complicated plans running into a total dunderhead. Even the games’ very basic premise is obviously about juxtaposition: Your main character is a space janitor. The reward you receive for saving the galaxy in the first installment? It’s a golden mop.
Now this is mainly notable to me because I feel like this is how I structure jokes. I feel like this is the first place I learned this habit, the way I could recognise jokes working. Put the complex next to the simple, put the highly esteemed next to the practical. Contrast and compare and let there be an inherent comedy there.
Few words meant something to me in videogaming history quite like Quest. I used to associate Quests with a particular style of mechanics, which I was lucky enough to watch evolve from one standard to another, culminating with one of my long-term gaming loves, Quest For Glory. There was something to the word Quest. It was a totem, rather than actually the word for a thing you had to do. Not once during my childhood was I ever called to explain that word to myself or anyone.
They were Quest games.What did Quest mean?
Quest literally means a particular task, usually of some weight or value, something big and hard you have to achieve. In the earliest days, the Quest games were exactly that. In Kings Quest, you were charged – literally by the king – to find objects that would let you become the King yourself. In Space Quest, you woke up as a janitor on a spaceship, finding a super-weapon stolen, and with no support, you had to go get it back, because there was nobody but you.
The name Quest after this point, though, became the brand. The brand that slowly, but surely, started to get lost. And I feel nothing stands taller as a signal of All Those Things going wrong as Space Quest ]I[.