Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers

aka: SQ4, Space Quest 4, Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco e i Viaggiatori del Tempo, Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco und die Zeitspringer
Moby ID: 143
DOS Specs
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Description official descriptions

Following his humorous adventures in previous game, Roger Wilco is relaxing at his favorite pub somewhere in time and space when heavily armed soldiers enter the room. Carrying a parting message from Roger's old nemesis, Sludge Vohaul, they plan to get rid of the janitorial hero, execution style. That is, until a man with an over-sized hair dryer helps Roger escape through a time rip into the future. Now Roger Wilco has woken up on his home planet, some time in a meta-fictional Space Quest XII. It is a grim, dystopian future: the series has gone to ruin without its hero, and Vohaul rules supreme. Roger must find a way to avoid Vohaul's henchmen, fulfill his destiny, and learn about a few surprises that await him in his own future.

Space Quest IV is the first in the Space Quest series to feature Sierra's icon-based SCI interface and 256-color graphics. The command set includes icons for walking, looking, using or taking, talking, smelling, tasting, as well as inventory access. Roger Wilco is shown on the screen from the exterior in multiple viewpoints. Like in the previous games, inventory-based puzzle-solving co-exists with timed tasks and various hazards that will kill Roger if the player is not careful.

Spellings

  • Space Quest 4: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers - Alternate spelling
  • スペース・クエスト IV - Japanese spelling

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Screenshots

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Credits (DOS version)

55 People (51 developers, 4 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 68% (based on 24 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 125 ratings with 5 reviews)

Roger's greatest Space Quest adventure yet

The Good
Sierra's fourth instalment in the Space Quest franchise was released in the early Nineties to very positive reception, and I can see why. Having already played the second game, I was glad that my favorite enemy returned. If you have played the second game like I did, let me give you a recap: Roger Wilco, space janitor and hero of the day, managed to shut down Vohaul's life support system and stopped a machine that planned to infest Xenon with genetically-engineered life insurance salesman.

Roger thought that he saw the last of him. But, no. Using a tracking device, Vohaul finds out that Roger is on Magmetheus and sends his Sequel Police to the planet and destroy him. Fortunately for Roger, two guys help Wilco escape by allowing him to enter a Time Rip that sends him forward in time. He ends up being stranded in a post-apocalyptic Xenon, in the Space Quest XII time era, in which the only signs of life are two creatures that roam the surface and will destroy Roger on sight. And so the majority of the game has Roger time-traveling to different places and running away from the Sequel Police.

What I really liked most about Space Quest IV is the time-traveling aspect of it. One of the time periods that he ended up in is a time where Roger's home planet Xenon is nothing but a pile of rubble. There isn't much life here but two creatures that can kill him on sight. The SP headquarters looms in the distance, with lightning striking it every now and then. Both it and the orange sky provides some atmosphere to the whole thing. There are other time periods to explore, including the one from the EGA version of Space Quest.

If you haven't played the VGA remake of Space Quest, you will realize two extra icons in the icon bar: the smell and taste icons. Both of these form most of the humor in the game, as clicking them on most objects in each screen will generate a humorous response. You also go exploring in a shopping mall, after being ditched by the “Latex Babes of Estros”, and reading the product descriptions in Radio Shock (or Hz. So Good in the CD version) and each game title in the software store is amusing.

At the time of its release, VGA cards were becoming popular, so it made sense for Sierra to take advantage of these cards. This means that the game boasts 256 colors, a first for a Space Quest game (not counting the Space Quest remake). Mostly all of the hand-painted backgrounds look fantastic. As I mentioned before, you enter the time era reminiscent of the original version of Space Quest. The graphics have been downgraded AGI-style, and I liked how the dialog boxes have a red and black border to match the original's.

The game also supports a variety of sound cards. Sure, hearing the soundtrack through the Sound Blaster is excellent and beats the PC Speaker hands down, but using the Roland MT-32 is awesome. Even the sound of the player being awarded a point is quite satisfying. Having said that, SQ4 must be the first Space Quest game not to have its theme at the beginning of the game. The music is identical in both versions (disk and CD), but I prefer the sound effects in the Disk version.

The CD-ROM version has the voice of Gary Owens, who was a regular of NBC's “Laugh-In” program years ago, way before my time. He is the narrator, and he provides some witty responses if you do certain meaningless actions in the game. The CD version also contains various tweaks that made sense at the time. Also, when I played the CD version, I wanted to keep dying on purpose just to hear Owens's amusing remarks as he reads out the text.

Removed is the copy protection from the disk version, which requires you to look up some coordinates in the manual. I miss laughing at Roger as he gets out of the time pod and is killed when you get the protection wrong three times.

The puzzles in the game are easy once you figure out what you're supposed to do, and they should take up to five minutes to solve. The most memorable one is near the end of the game, when you have to align the lasers in such a way that Roger won't get fried on his way to the Super Computer. There is also a nice arcade sequence where you have to pack some burgers, but it's much harder than that skimmer sequence from the first game. Apply for a job at Monolith Burger and you will find out why.

The Bad
Games released by Sierra are often plagued by CPU-related issues, where playing the game on a high-end system causes some sequences to run very fast. Space Quest IV (particularly the CD version) is no exception. When I first played this game on my Pentium 233 mHz machine, I had to mess around with the BIOS, disabling the Level 2 Cache, and play the game as normal. DOSBox didn't exist back then, so this was the norm.

The Bottom Line
This was the last game The Two Guys from Andromeda worked on together. After SQ4, they went their separate ways, but they would still work on the final two games individually. As far as the game is concerned, it is the first and only SQ game to deal with time-travel, mainly as a tool to escape something that would put an end to Roger's adventures once and for all. SQ4 is a very god game that improves upon the previous games, with its great graphics and sound, and its fair dose of puzzles. It is also the favorite of many Space Quest fans out there, but this has to be my second favorite over The Pirates of Pestulon.

DOS · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2015

Best SQ game, and I replay it almost yearly

The Good
Amazing graphics, story, sound quality & humor (for it's time of course). The music totally blew me away, but it was also the first game I played with my brand new Sound Blaster card. I have the soundtrack on CD both from the Sound Blaster midi and from the original Roland MT32 midi.

The Bad
Perfect in every way, the only bad thing you can say about it is some poor programming decisions that cause a couple parts of the game unplayable on anything faster than a 486. Thank gosh that there are 3rd party patches to fix this now.

The Bottom Line
I'd say this is my 1st or 2nd favorite gaming experience of all time (this is in a tough fight against Hero's Quest 1). The humor was great and dastardly, tons of original ideas and very diverse story changes. The fact that I can reply this game every year shows it's virtually flawless and the original developers should be proud of themselves for making this game.

DOS · by Travis Owens (6) · 2004

A good, old-fashioned adventure

The Good
Many of the puzzles were interesting. The game is quite funny, probably funnier than the first three in the series. The plot makes little sense, but that's not really all that important. This is definitely one of the classics of the genre.

The Bad
There are a few movement based puzzles. These are more tedious than interesting. In fact, there is apparently a timing error in the CD-ROM version that causes the game to run too fast on faster machines (most Pentiums). Moslo will not help you here. Instead, disable your CPU's internal cache from the BIOS config program (be sure to re-enable it when you are finished!).

The Bottom Line
This is probably the funniest Space Quest except for Space Quest 6. While the puzzles are not quite as good as those of Space Quest 3, the humor is definitely sharper, wittier, and more abundant. In terms of gameplay, it's just a simple point and click adventure, and we see all too few of those today. Definitely a game you will want to play repeatedly.

DOS · by Mark Abrams (4) · 2000

[ View all 5 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Installer Shots St. Martyne (3648) Mar 16, 2009

Trivia

Gags

  • At some point near the end of the game, you are presented with a computer that has a GUI with a few icons and a toilet and you must flush a malicious program (remember - we're in 1990 where GUIs on PCs were not that common yet). There was an icon labeled SQ4: if you dragged it in the toilet, the game ended without warning and dropped you abruptly to the DOS prompt.
  • As with most adventure games of its time, this one used more floppies than ever. No wonder the authors thought of this joke: You could go inside the "Radio Shock" store and see in the bargain bin a copy of "King's Quest 48 , The quest for disk space" (or whatever sequel number it was).

Mark Crowe

Mark Crowe, one of the Space Quest series original designers, has stated that Space Quest IV is the game in the series that he considers his 'tour-de-force'. He worked on Space Quests 1-5.

Radio Shock controversy

After complaints from a certain widespread electronics chain, the name of the store "Radio Shock" in the Galaxy Galleria was changed to "Htz So Good" for the CD-ROM version.

References: Software store

The games at the software store are all parodies of other games. Here's a list of the parodied games:

References: Space Quest series

  • There's a secret time code in the game that takes you to Ortega (SQ3). It's simple: type in the top row left to right, then type in the leftmost symbol in the second row. There are also persistant rumors that there's a code for Space Quest II, but it's never been found.
  • If you smell the back of Droids-B-Us at Ulence Flats, the game says: "Smells like another lawsuit coming back to haunt the Two Guys from Andromeda". The reason?? Scott Murphy and Mark Crowe got sued by Toys-R-Us for putting Droids-B-Us in Space Quest.

References: Sierra games

  • Cedric, the owl from King's Quest V has an appearance in the Ms. Astro Chicken game at the Galaxy Galleria's Arcade.
  • In the Control room of the SuperComputer, two programs immediately come to mind: King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry.
  • When you're in the pterodactyl's nest on Estros, you can see something streak across the sky. This is in fact King Graham being carried by a condor (from King's Quest).
  • The Quest for Glory theme music is occasionally played in the Software Store at the Galaxy Galleria, made out to sound like a PC internal speaker.

References: Various

  • At the Big and Tall store at the Galaxy Galleria, you can occasionally spot a guy rummaging around, occasionally pulling out a pair of red shorts. This is Bob Andrews, former Sierra OnLine programmer.
  • Luke Skywalker's little red speeder is disguised as the crashed hovercraft on the Xenon streets.
  • The trash can in the Galleria's Arcade is one of the agents from Get Smart.
  • During your visit to Ulence Flats, the Blues Brothers appear on stage at the bar, since they also appear in SQ1.
  • The robots in the SuperComputer are the Imperial ProBots from the Star Wars movies.
  • When you first visit the Software Store at the Galaxy Galleria, the bouncer will tell you that the Two Geeks From Andromeda are in there, signing copies of their latest release.

Releases

The DOS version of Space Quest IV was available in four different packages: a 16 color version (supporting EGA, MCGA, VGA, Tandy/PCjr) with either 3.5" DD or 5.25" HD disks, and a 256 color version (supporting MCGA, VGA) with either 3.5" HD disks or 5.25" HD disks.

Roger Wilco

From this entry on in the series, 'Roger Wilco' was included in the title of each game (actually in a bigger font than the actual 'Space Quest' bit), as by this time the character had grown and become as well-identified as the actual 'Space Quest' title by gamers (rather like Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series).

Also this is the only game in the series in which there is neither access to a janitorial closet, nor a single conventional cleaning implement among the inventory items. Clearly, Crowe and Murphy intended Roger Wilco's adventures to continue without any occupational restrictions on the character.

Timed events

Certain sections of the game use an event timer that relies on your system clock. (even though the game speed itself adjusts according to the processor) This makes it virtually impossible to even begin the game on a modern machine - the mutant in the first section appears every few seconds, killing you instantly.

Version differences

The dialogue for the DOS and Amiga versions are identical, except for the part where one of the monochrome boys speak to you, where what he says will depend on the number of colors used in the game.

EGA version:

  • "Well, lookee here! If it ain't Mister Look-at-me-I'm-in-EGA"
  • "Whatsamatter, monochrome not good enough for you?"
  • "What's this, 16 colors all for one little bitmapped WIMP?! What a waste of EGA. Har, har!"
  • "Hey, fellas! I bet I can toss him all the way-out from the bottom of the stairs. Bet 'ya an ale."

VGA version:

  • "Well, lookee here! If it ain't Mister Look-at-me-I'm-in-VGA"
  • "Whatsamatter, monochrome not good enough for you?"
  • "What's this, 256 colors all for one little bitmapped WIMP?! What a waste of VGA. Har, har!"
  • "Hey, fellas! I bet I can toss him all the way-out from the bottom of the stairs. Bet 'ya an ale."

Amiga:

  • "Well, lookee here! If it ain't Mister Look-at-me-I'm-in-32-Colors"
  • "Whatsamatter, monochrome not good enough for you?"
  • "What's this, 32 colors all for one little bitmapped WIMP?! What a waste of color. Har, har!"
  • "Hey, fellas! I bet I can toss him all the way-out from the bottom of the stairs. Bet 'ya an ale."

Voice acting

Aside from the narrator Gary Owens, all voices in the game are done by Sierra employees. Guy from Andromeda Scott Murphy even does the voice of Sludge Vohaul.

Awards

  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – Funniest Computer Game
  • Power Play
    • Issue 02/1992 – Best Graphics in 1991
    • Issue 02/1992 – Best Sound in 1991

Information also contributed by 6⅞ of Nine, Allan Chan, Anthony Bull, B14ck W01f, Jayson Firestorm, Olivier Masse, Servo, William Shawn McDonie and WizardX

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Related Sites +

  • Hints for SQ4
    These hints will help you solve the game.
  • IGCD Internet Game Cars Database
    Game page on IGCD, a database that tries to archive vehicles found in video games.
  • SpaceQuest.Net - Space Quest 4
    Extremely comprehensive site about Space Quest 4: Basic game information, hints, documentation, downloads and behind the scenes stuff, for example a downloadable PDF manual, scans of the official hint book, easter eggs, fun facts, cancelled stuff etc. etc. etc.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 143
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Andy Roark.

Amiga added by POMAH. Macintosh, PC-98 added by Terok Nor. Windows 3.x added by Katakis | カタキス.

Additional contributors: nullnullnull, Nathan Kovner, Jeanne, Jayson Firestorm, Shoddyan, Iggi, General Error, formercontrib, 6⅞ of Nine, Patrick Bregger, Victor Vance, Kayburt.

Game added May 27, 1999. Last modified February 8, 2024.