Sunday, 31 May 2015

Space Quest IV: Part 3: Out of Time

After having foiled Vohaul's plans in Space Quest 1 and 2, it seems that famous galactic space-hero, Roger Wilco would have to do it again. Armed with nothing but his charming personality, good looks, quick wits, a pocket full of acidic ooze and a cigar stub, I exited the time pod for the last time.

The Sequel Police dispatch station was empty, and their aircraft sat quietly in its hangar. The only other place to check was off to the right, where there had previously been a guard but now only a strange tunnel entrance lay ahead. Presumably, all of the Sequel Police were chasing my shadows around space and time, so they thankfully couldn't get in my way.

The tunnel entrance had a rather complicated locking system, but I was carrying what is commonly known as "a fool's lockpick", by which I mean a glass jar full of incredibly corrosive green ooze. Being very careful not to spill any on myself (something that would mean certain death), I melted the lock and that seemed to have the effect I was looking for.

The tunnel itself had further security measures though, with a laser barrier designed to slice open any fool careless enough to wander forward. Using the matches and the half-chewed cigar, I coughed up enough smoke to highlight the laser beams and used the control panel to move them to a safer orientation.

So far so easy, but I was unprepared for what lay ahead. A vast chamber filled with a strange, almost organic looking electronic brain. Amongst the twisted spires of living machinery there were walkways winding maze-like to unknown destinations. I picked a pathway, noticing a small box by the hand-rail. Ah, a use for that all-important PocketPal Terminal I had not bothered to pick up. Of course, I would have needed a PocketPal Terminal Connector, and of the right kind, something almost impossible to know before now.

I could go back and try to get this important equipment (if not for a bug preventing me from actually going where I needed), but I instead decided to push forward and brave this bizarre environment without such aid. I could hear the sentry droids in the distance though, so I would need to be on my toes.

Evading the droids, I worked my way towards the central chamber, in which my son (something I only really knew from a cutscene that I wasn't present for) was being held in some sort of beam. There were laser defences preventing me from approaching, so I had to find some way of shutting them down.

The answer lay in another direction, a walkway leading off to the left. Inside, a room looking like something out of a H.R. Giger painting, with a large locked circular door at the centre. The way the eye-like protrusions on the walls were looking at me reminded me of a section of the Space Quest IV hint book I had read through earlier. Turning to the appropriate page, I noticed a hint containing a number code - a code that would let me enter this chamber and gain access to this artificial brain.

 The terminal screen was filled with strange symbols, and I flushed each one in turn, leaving only the brain and the SQIV ones (note: flushing the SQIV symbol will exit the game!). Not knowing what I was doing exactly, I decided to flush the brain symbol and see what happened, leading to a countdown and some sort of format/restart process.

Hoping that this had disabled the security measures guarding my son, I raced against the clock to the central chamber once more, only to find to my disgust that Vohaul had downloaded his mind into my son's body! Of course Roger might look like a lazy slob, but when it comes to the crunch you can count on him to kick some ass, or at the very least push Vohaul back into the holding beam for long enough to recover the disk with my son's brain on it and switch him back into his body.

With my son saved, and Vohaul deleted, all that's left is a victory celebration! Mind you, there's not that much to celebrate when most of Xenon is dead and in ruins, but at least they can rebuild. After a brief tantalising glimpse of my future wife, I'm dropped back off in Space Quest IV to continue back on my way. I don't think my life is going to be quite the same after that...

Final Thoughts

So long Space Quest IV, we hardly knew you (because we spent most of our time in other time periods!), and after this game the Space Quest series takes a bit of a detour. It's technically still the same series, but it begins to stick to a more Star Trek parody rather than a general space-comedy that it was previously.

Personally, I think this is the highlight of the series. It handles the time travel pretty well, it allows you to re-visit most of the areas of the game in case you missed something (with one exception that I can think of - the bird's nest in Space Quest X). It even lets you bypass a few puzzles on the way (the PocketPal stuff). It also has some wonderful artwork and music which will always be memorable for me.

And finally, previous Space Quest games were given plenty of mentions throughout (a nice touch), and as well as visiting SQ1, and the mention of SQ2 you can also visit Space Quest III! Careful though, you seem to have misplaced that thermoweave underwear somewhere so I'd stay inside the time-pod if I were you.

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