Space Quest 6
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|Space Quest 6:
Roger Wilco in the Spinal Frontier
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The game begins with Roger Wilco being court martialed for various humorous reasons (all of which Roger, being the idiot that he is, cannot defend properly). He is demoted back to his position as second class janitor aboard the SCS DeepShip 86 (a parody of the Deep Space 9). Among the reasons for Roger being simply demoted and not expelled from StarCon is the "safe return of the SCS Eureka". This is a continuity error in that the Eureka was in fact destroyed in Space Quest V.
Later, on the DeepShip, Commander Kielbasa (named after the kielbasa sausage and a parody of the Kilrathi from the Wing Commander series of video games) announces that, as reward for their excellence in "A Glitch In Time Saves Gamma Nine" (a parody of "a stitch in time saves nine"), they are to be given shore leave on the planet Polysorbate LX ("LX" pronounced "sixty", after the preservative). Meanwhile, an extremely old and wrinkled woman named Sharpei (after the dog breed of the same name, also noted for its wrinkles, and voiced by Lucille Bliss) is revealed to be plotting Roger's demise. It is later revealed that she is the subject of "Project Immortality", which was supposed to prolong life indefinitely.
Roger's adventures throughout the game have him dealing with a T-1000 like "endodroid" (a reference mostly to the replicants from Blade Runner, including an "endodroid runner" giving Roger the assignment and speaking with a New York accent), entering cyberspace (mostly a desert canyon like area, an "office" resembling Windows 3.1, and a seemingly endless room of file cabinets known as the "file manager"), and venturing into Stellar Santiago's digestive system (for which humor is added through Gary Owens' narrations providing scientific detail of everything within each area, as if from a textbook).
Roger and Stellar develop a relationship that almost attracts Roger to the point of enamoration for her. This was designed as a way to potentially create another love interest for Roger. A running gag in the game is the inclusion of a rotting fish in Roger's inventory which he cannot seem to get rid of. It is revealed in an anti-climatic end that the fish is the only way to destroy Sharpei, who by the end of the game has become a virus infecting Stellar Santiago.
The game ends on a cliffhanger, with Stellar saying that Roger "is going to like his next mission". Despite this, Space Quest 7 never came to fruition, and the cliffhanger was never resolved.
Development and release
Space Quest 6: Roger Wilco in The Spinal Frontier ran on the later SCI32 engine Rev 2.100.002. This allowed it to use Super VGA graphics with 256 colors at 640×480 resolution. Unlike other SCI games, it did not have the interface in a pull down bar at the top of the screen, but instead used a "verb bar" window along the bottom of the screen, similar to LucasArts' SCUMM engine. The graphics style was also more cartoonish than in previous games, as well as incorporating an ample amount of 3-D rendered images. Gary Owens served as narrator once again.
This game was the last to be released in the Space Quest series. Having defeated the diabolical pukoid mutants in Space Quest V, Captain Roger Wilco triumphantly returns to StarCon headquarters - only to be court-martialed due to breaking StarCon regulations while saving the galaxy. The game's subtitle comes from the final portion, in which Roger has to undergo miniaturization and enter the body of a shipmate and romantic interest, a spoof of the 1987 movie Innerspace. (This segment also provided the game's original subtitle, Where in Corpsman Santiago is Roger Wilco?, which was not used due to legal threats from the makers of the Carmen Sandiego products.) The romantic interest provides a dilemma for Roger (unprecedented in the series) since she is a friend and someone other than the woman who bore Roger a son, according to the narrative in Space Quest IV.
Josh Mandel designed the majority of Space Quest 6 (with Scott Murphy on board in a "creative consultant" capacity) but had to leave the project shortly before completion due to internal strife with Sierra. Sierra asked Scott Murphy to complete the game, and then (reportedly against Murphy's wishes) promoted SQ6 as if the former "Guy from Andromeda" was solely responsible for it. As an additional result of this change in designers, some puzzles — primarily in the later stages of the game — were poorly implemented due to lack of communication. In a 2006 interview, Mandel spoke candidly about his disappointment with the uneven puzzle design and implementation in the game, "One of the inventory items cut was a comic book CD in Nigel's room that was fully readable and had all the hints to the Datacorder puzzle. From a writing and design standpoint, it was fully finished, and I know that Barry Smith had started the artwork. I don't understand why it was cut. But the comic book content was something I'd worked on for months, and it was something that I was uncharacteristically proud of ... I think it would've been one of the greatest parody sequences in the SQ series. So not only was I very upset not to see it in the game, but the fact that they had to put the Datacorder hints in the manual, leading player to think it was meant to be copy protection, disturbed me greatly."
Sierra On-Line created a special CD-ROM version of Space Quest 6's demonstration game, which was distributed with Sierra's Interaction Magazine, PC Gamer Disc 9 included with Volume 2, Issue 8 from August 1995, early pressings of Phantasmagoria, and possibly other media. This self-contained demonstration featured an alternate story not related to the main game and is fully voiced by the Space Quest 6 voice actors (early versions of the demo did not have full speech). The demo begins with Roger Wilco floating in space outside the bridge, washing the viewscreen while everyone else on the bridge is relaxing. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an Escher cube-shaped ship approaches the Deepship 86 and beams aboard two toaster-headed mechanoids - the Bjorn (a parody of the Borg, with their cube being a parody of the Borg Cube, and named after tennis champion Björn Borg). They turn all of the crew into scoops of lemon sorbet (except Roger, who quickly ducked behind the viewscreen). Now it is up to Roger to find a way to restore his crewmates and drive off the Bjorn invaders.
A critic for Next Generation dismissed Space Quest 6 as being essentially identical to the previous five installments of the series aside from the specific puzzles. He gave the game three out of five stars, concluding, "If you liked the first five, you'll want this. If not, you probably aren't even reading this review." PC Gamer US's Gary Meredith wrote that it is "not the best of the Space Quest series", as it takes "a couple of steps backwards as far as the graphics and voice-overs are concerned". He criticized the game's narration, noting that he had disliked it in Space Quest IV as well. However, Meredith believed that Space Quest 6 would appeal to fans of the series.