Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers (Sierra On-Line) - 1991

This review is part of the “Let’s Adventure!” series. See all reviewed games sorted by rating here.

Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers is a 1991 graphic adventure game by Sierra On-Line, and the fourth entry in the Space Quest series. The game was released originally on floppy disks on March 4, 1991, and later released on CD-ROM in December 1992 with full speech support; an Atari ST version was announced via Sierra Online’s magazine, Sierra News Magazine, but was later canceled. The game sees players assume the role of Roger Wilco, who is thrust into a new adventure across time and space where he must thwart the plans of an old foe that is seeking revenge against him.

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.1

Unlike Space Quest III before it, Space Quest IV has discarded the text parser in favour of a true point-and-click interface. This time around you interact with the game world using the (likely far more familiar) verb-based icons to decide how Roger interacts with the game world.

A couple of of these options such as SMELL and TASTE really aren’t needed, though selecting them and clicking around allows for the game to spit out some pretty funny feedback about things you really shouldn’t be doing with your surroundings.

The Space Quest series has never tried to take itself seriously, and this entry is no exception. The writing and the art style tend to be goofy, and there are a lot of “in jokes” for fans of this series as well as other Sierra Online games.

After the intro cutscene you’re dropped into the future, which the game’s menu bar tells you is Space Quest XII - Vohaul’s Revenge II. As you jump through time you’ll know “when” you are as the game you’ve landed in will be displayed here.

Once you find your way into the sewers a Star Wars parody plays out that informs you that some time in the past someone found an old Leisure Suit Larry game and uploaded it ot the Xenon super computer. This unleashed a virus (that I think contained Sludge Vohaul’s mind or something) that results in humanity being enslaved.

Vohaul is sending androids after you called “Sequel Police”, who use time pods to jump through time. You eventually steal one of these, which requires you to enter a 6 digit time code to jump between games … but where do you find these codes?

This wasn’t immediately obvious to me, but in retrospect it sort of makes sense. When you first steal the time pod in SQXII the code onscreen is the return code for SQXII. I just got in and mashed some random codes and hit enter and the game sent me off to the next time period.

I wonder if these assets were reused from a Leisure Suite Larry game 🧐

You’ll wind up in Space Quest X - Latex Babes of Estros, which is apparently a parody of Infocom’s Leather Goddesses of Phobos (what are the odds anyone playing this game today would make that connection).

This sequence is pretty short and straightforward and ends with you getting captured by a group of Amazonian women, saving them from a giant sea slug … then the lot of you heading out to the Galaxy Galleria mall to go on a shopping spree.

There are some throwbacks to previous games here, including a Monolith Burger location that you can get a job at putting burgers together. You’ll need to do this as you won’t have enough money (buckazoids) to buy the dress and wig you need to pass as one of the Amazons (who’s debit card you happened to pick up).

The arcade sequence is pretty simple as you just add condiments to a burger on an assembly line. If you don’t screw up, you get 1 buckazoid per burger, but if you send 3 burgers to the finish line incorrectly you’ll be fired.

This is not hard - but it’s tedious. The assembly line gradually speeds up so it gets more challenging, but you can adjust the game speed to slow this down as needed.

I appreciate that the game gives you the option before you even begin to just take the money and skip the arcade sequence entirely - while still getting the money you need to progress.

As a bit of a meta joke about the game, the puzzle design and the relative difficulty of Sierra games, one of the things you’ll need to buy at the mall is a Space Quest IV hint book. This is actually required to finish the game as there are two codes you’ll need that are only found in the hint book!

Honestly I thought this was pretty clever, and though only a couple of the hints are relevant, the other entries in the book that you reveal (with a magic pen) are typically pretty funny.

If you were a PC gamer in the early 90’s, you may have had one of Sierra’s hint books, so the fact that one of these existed in-game as well as being available as a printed hint book was super meta. It’s also funny how the printed hint book contains a clue as to how you need to use the in-game hint book to find partial coordinates for the time pod.

Eventually the Sequel Police will find you in SQX, and you’ll steal their time pod and use the code you pieced together from the gum wrapper and the hint book to jump all the way back to Space Quest I (check out my review of that game if you’re curious).

Once again, make sure you write down the coordinates in the time pod as that’s what you’ll need to return to SQX later!

The SQ1 sequence is real short, but the bikers you meet (who are in black and white) make fun of you for being rendered in all that fancy 256 color glory.

You’ll bounce around time periods a couple more times collecting items you’ll need for the final showdown with Vohaul. Like most Sierra games you’ll find yourself picking up anything that isn’t nailed down to try and solve the various in-game puzzles.

Unlike many Sierra games though, there really aren’t that many items to find in this game. If you forget to pick up the bunny, bottle and the slime at the very beginning of the game I’m pretty sure you’ll find yourself in an unwinnable situation, but otherwise you should be able to jump between time periods if you forgot anything.

There are plenty of ways for Roger to get himself killed, but unlike the last couple games in the series I didn’t really find there to be all that much variety in the messaging you get prior to a game over.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t some great death sequences, but the majority of the death dialog windows are just a variation of Roger lying on his stomach.

To be fair, we all remember the zombie screeching at us and then Roger dying, so it’s not like these were “bad”. My issue was more with the lack of variety compared to previous games.

Honestly I like spending a little extra time per screen to see what interactions result in my untimely demise, but I just didn’t really find the results all that entertaining this time around.

The endgame sequence involves hacking into the main computer in Vohaul’s lair (which you use the in-game hint book to do), then deleting some subroutines (like the guard robots). If you happen to delete the SQIV “program”, the game will actually exit.

I thought this was pretty clever, though if you aren’t prepared for it and haven’t saved … well I guess that’s on you 🤣. There’s also a Leisure Suit Larry 4 icon there, which is yet another in joke for Sierra fans as that game never existed (read Al Lowe’s true story of why the series jumped from LSL3 to LSL5).

The game end’s with you facing off against Sludge Vohaul, who has taken over your son’s body. Oh yeah, you have a son apparently because - you know - time travel and stuff.

This sequence is pretty simple as you just sort of move around and throw each other to the ground, and eventually Vohaul will throw a disk that you need to retrieve an put into the super computer so you can download your son’s consciousness and upload it back to his body to finish the game.

As much as I love the Space Quest series, this entry is probably one of my least favourites. Visually it’s impressive, and the writing and voice acting is excellent - but the time travel elements are actually kind of frustrating.

First of all, I couldn’t read the keyboard in the time pod. I found myself using a screenshot that I blew up to like 400% to try and figure out which key corresponded to which symbol to try and enter the time codes. Since you have to backtrack a few times, you need to go through this rigamarole a few times as well and it just seemed excessive as a result.

Next, I didn’t really find the story to be all that interesting. I like time travel and sci-fi stories, but this felt underdeveloped and focusing a bit more on jokes for Sierra fans than plot progression.

Overall it’s not all that bad, but it’s also not really all that memorable.

OneShortEye’s recent video about How Speedrunners Broke Space Quest IV (again) reignited my interest in this game, which ultimately resulted in this playthrough. If you’re into speed running I’d highly recommend his videos as he covers a lot of adventure games. As an aside, my site made a cameo appearance in his 3 Obscure Easter Eggs in Sanitarium, so might as well plug my Sanitarium review 😅.

Game Information

GameSpace Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
DeveloperSierra On-Line
PublisherSierra On-Line
Release DateMarch 4, 1991
SystemsDOS, Windows, Macintosh, Amiga, NEC PC-9801
Game EngineSCI

My Playthrough

How Long To Beat?4.5 hours
Version PlayedDOS via ScummVM
NotesWalkthrough, Manual


See here for a refresher on how we’re scoring these games.

Atmosphere (20)15
Story (25)9
Experience (15)9
Impact (10)4


  1. Description from Moby Games 

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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