Space Quest V: The Next Mutation

Posted by Martin Dietz.
First posted on 21 August 1998. Last updated on 01 November 2011.
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Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
Who is the alien behind Roger?
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
Roger is now a captain of the Star Confederation.
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
Go for a swim or save the world?
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
Roger gets philosophical about the meaning of life!
Space Quest V: The Next Mutation
This is not a good situation for Roger!

Roger Wilco has done it again! After saving the planet and the guys from Andromeda, our intrepid hero is back for his next adventure—Space Quest V: The Next Mutation. This time, he is not on his own but as a member of the Star Confederation. With the help of his friends, he is ready to clean the galaxy of unwanted scum and social garbage. Although the game references itself to both Space Quest III: Pirates of Pestulon and Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and The Time Rippers, you do not have to know the details of the other games to play this one.

At the beginning of Space Quest V: The Next Mutation, you learn that Roger Wilco has decided to try a career at the Star Confederation. Today, Roger has to write a very important test. He is completely unprepared—not that he shall have any chance even if he is prepared. Trying not to fail, he manages to guess and copy the answers from another cadet. When the tests are marked by the main computer, a rat causes a computer malfunction and Roger's test is miraculously scored 100%—the highest mark ever achieved by a Star Cadet. So, Roger is made a Captain and gets his own ship—a garbage collector!

Meanwhile, some Sludge Bandits are illegally disposing toxic waste all over the galaxy. Ambassador Wankmeister, the woman we learn to be Roger's future wife from Space Quest XXII (yep, it is XXII), orders the Star Confederation to stop these bandits. Captain Quirk, the Commander of the Star Confederation flagship and Roger's love rival, volunteers to take her on his patrol. You, on the other hand, befriend an acid alien while scouting for garbage. After defeating a "womandroid" who wants to kill you, you discover that Captain Quirk is actually involved in the waste pirates' affair. From here on, you must rescue Ambassador Wankmeister, defeat the mutated Captain Quirk and save the whole galaxy from being mutated!

Space Quest V: The Next Mutation is the fifth game in the Space Quest series. The series has evolved a lot from its original roots. This is the first title written solely by Mark Crowe, a member of the hip comedy duo "The Two Guys From Andromeda" who are the original creators of Space Quest. Losing much of the original spirit of the series, the focus of the story has also changed—from complex but humorous space adventures in past games to just simple and endless parodies of sci-fi movies and books in the present one. Among the well known sci-fi flicks to which this game makes parody are Star Trek, Star Wars, and Space Odyssey: 2001.

The game is animated in comic like fashion using VGA graphics. The installation routine is simple and is one that Sierra On-Line has developed for a lot of their games before popularizing their special Windows based installation tool. Several background musical tunes are played during the game, but most of the time the music is just variations of the main Space Quest theme. The sound effects remind me of those heard on Star Trek (pneumatic doors and com signals). The game does not have spoken dialogs so that all conversations are displayed as text on screen. This is the second title in the series to feature a point and click interface. The interface is very easy to operate. Special icons exist for selecting different actions (Walk, Look, Get/Manipulate, Talk, Order Inventory Item, Inventory Selection, and Game Options). Clicking on an object or a person with an inventory item results in actions that include showing it, using it, or giving it away. Frequent saving of the game is highly recommended prior to using any special object which you do not know of its function. There are more ways to die than to survive in this game. In some situations, you may just get a humorous message when you have done something wrong. In other situations, you may die of an instant death. Having said this, such deaths are not atypical in Sierra On-Line's adventure games.

Although the game is originally written for DOS, it runs under Windows 95. If you are accustomed to DOS commands, I suggest playing it under DOS since rare memory errors (no free handles) may occur otherwise.

Aside from the normal game manual, inside the game box there is an issue of the Galactic Inquirer which you need in order to obtain the coordinates of some of the planets to where you must travel during the early mission. There are also a few articles in the Galactic Inquirer that give you some background information about the Star Confederation, among other nonsense bits.

Space Quest V: The Next Mutation is another admirable sequel in the Roger Wilco saga. The game interface is intuitive. The story features many humorous parodies to famous sci-fi flicks. Yet, compared with previous games from the Space Quest series, this game somewhat misses the mark. Gameplay often feels like a collection of disjointed missions instead of a coherent adventure. Space Quest V: The Next Mutation may not be one of Sierra On-Line's best adventure titles, but it is still a delightful sequel to the series. It is not a game that converts you to an adventure fan, but it is also not a game that makes you lose interest in this genre.

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