Since I couldn't make it work in DOSBox at first, I Googled for more info on the game. This gave surprisingly little results, apart from a few nicely looking screenshots. Eventually I figured out that the game will run fine in DOSBox v0.74, but may not work in earlier versions.A Full 3D Space Combat and Race Simulator
Long Desc : Take command as a high level officer giving orders to a
squadron of ultra-fast wing ships with high fire power. Order the fleet to
follow and protect you while you destroy hundreds of enemy ships. Don't miss
this amazing experience of flying with a team of top notch fighters. Imagine
arriving from deep space, closing in on a solar system, circling around a moon
to finally blast a base protected by ground cannons on the planet's surface.
Start playing the incredibly realistic missions to sense the ultimate fear of
destruction in ap bombarded by fire power so intense that your head will be
spinning. Wipe out space mine fields to protect your Star Cruisers while an
armada closes in on you... The ultimate real-time space flight environment.
Running on state of the art algorithms, Star Quest I allows you unlimited
freedom of movement and control around full 3D planets. FEATURES: 3D mapped
stars for a total feeling of immersion. Full 3D Gouraud shaded planets with
atmosphere simulation. Texture mapped objects with real-time shading by
sunlight. Mixed missions: deep space, air and surface. Over 60 different
spaceships. Space racing with weaponry. Full 360 degree 3D movement including
light speed, reverse and stop. Layered sound effects with volume that
decreases with distance. General MIDI music output. Animated texture mapping.
Exploration mode to plan your attack and strategy. 10 levels of difficulty per
mission. Stunning explosions with flying debris.
Star Quest is indeed quite an interesting game, and it's rather weird that it was overlooked. The graphics are on par with what most games of the time (the shareware version 1.0 had been released in November 1995) have to offer, and gameplay is quite entertaining. There's no campaign mode (although there's a general premise of a galactic conflict with some hostile aliens), but instead a number of single scenario missions which can be played through as many times as you like, and on different difficulty levels. The catch here is that after each successful completion of a mission, the player is rewarded with ship upgrades, better weapons etc. to use in future playthroughs, allowing to play the game on higher difficulty. Also, more missions get unlocked as the player progresses through the game.
The scenarios are also quite diverse: there's straightforward shooting action, tactical missions where you need to protect or destroy a key target (sometimes with wingman support), and even space racing events held against fellow pilots. The graphics engine allows for smooth transitions between open space, planetary atmospheres and planet surfaces, aiming for a more realistic space flight action.
Another noteworthy feature of Star Quest I is that it is designed to be user-friendly. The game is highly customizable (you can tweak almost everything, from controls and optional invincibility to the colour of the cockpit), and a sensitive scale of difficulty levels (with a total of 10 skill settings available) provides a very smooth learning curve. There's also an exploration mode where you just fly around the level and familiarize with it, without any real opponents or objectives.
Further Googling revealed that the company that developed Star Quest I, Virtual Adventures Inc., is still around, has its own website and still sells the full game. What's more, they're working on a sequel, although details are rather sketchy. You can get the shareware version from their site, but of course it's also found on cd.textfiles.com:
Download Star Quest I shareware v1.0
Download Star Quest I shareware v1.01
Here are some screenshots, taken from the official site: