Designer: Mark Crowe & Scott Murphy
One one would think that taking a previously hilarious science fiction character and throwing him into a time travel story would be the easiest formula for success, but Space Quest IV is one of the laziest adventure games I have ever played, putting me to sleep even with a walkthrough at hand.
Roger Wilco, per usual, is gloating about his success in the previous Space Quest games when he’s captured by Vohaul’s goons. At the last minute, he’s saved by some mysterious men and zapped headlong into Space Quest XII, in the middle of his now desolate home planet. After figuring out where he is, Roger must thwart events happening in the future (a la Marty and Doc), save his own skin, and get back to his own time. All along, he’ll be traveling to other Space Quest games to do so, trying to avoid Vohaul’s police force.
Sadly, most of what happens during the game feels more like it belongs to Leisure Suit Larry’s universe than Roger’s (including an over the top narrator). Very few of the game’s puzzles relate to science fiction, and are often tacky and obtuse (which also describes the graphics), including some unbelievably boring arcade games (e.g. making burgers!). Worse yet, many of the puzzles require extensive backtracking; I think I spent more time walking from one place to another than I did interacting with the game world. The only interesting diversion is a trip to Ulence Flats from Space Quest 1, but this excursion lasts only a few short minutes.
When Sierra updated their engines for point’n’click play, their games in every one of their long-standing series temporarily suffered (even Police Quest 3, which I enjoyed). It was as if the designers and producers spent so much time playing with their new toy that they forgot what made their games great in the first place. Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers isn’t quite as awful as tomorrow’s entry, but the diminishing return on your IQ will be about the same after playing. I can’t recommend this game to anyone, even to fans of the series.