Space Quest V: The Next Mutation. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by David Sears
Hold on to your mops, boys and girls: Roger Wilco's in command. Yes, the bumbling but earnest goof from the other Space Quests returns, this time for a stint at StarCon Academy where, as usual, he's on cleaning detail. But wait! Our hero graduates and, because of a computer error in his favor, receives his first assignment: to captain the garbage scow Eureka. Once on board, Roger faces an insolent crew and a perplexing mystery: Someone out there wants to put an end to StarCon.
As always full of wry and often irrelevant humor, this latest Space Quest installment goes further than any adventure game has gone before, perhaps with the exception of Star Trek, the 25th Anniversary Edition. The gags are uniformly hilarious, the animated shorts hysterical, and many of the problems you must solve seem ridiculous. Those constitute the differences between Space Quest V and something like Star Trek.
These two games hold in common a revolutionary approach to puzzle-solving: neorealism. For instance, to open a locked door, instead of employing a bizarre gimmick, you must take a hole punch found aboard the Eureka and punch a specific pattern in a business card.
The once-useless plastic card becomes a key that opens the door. You'll discover the necessary pattern through extreme and unusual circumstances, but those conditions make Space Quest V what it is: funny. The logic involved augments the slapstick and elevates the game well beyond the mundane horde of other adventures on the market--many from Sierra itself.
Space Quest V utilizes Sierra's impeccable interface, allowing for nearly transparent character actions. And, like most other Sierra games, this one features a nonstop and appropriate musical score. The graphics rank among the best standard 256-color VGA work done to date, while the animations rarely seem to "take over" and leave you with nothing to do but watch.
A number of Space Quest V puzzles do require absurd timing--even saving games won't alleviate your frustration at Roger's 33rd death from pukoid spittle or the hours of dead-end maze-crawling. These tedious arcade sequences aside, anybody with a hankering to explore an alternate and spoof-filled universe must sign aboard the Eureka.