Once you go meta, there's nothing betta.Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers
(also simply known as Space Quest IV
) is the fourth game in the Space Quest
series, released in 1991. It is also the first game in the series to use VGA graphics. Sludge Vohaul sends henchmen time travelling from Space Quest XII
to assassinate Roger Wilco in the current time, forcing Roger to hop across future and past games to stop Vohaul's plan, all while making sure he doesn't cause his own existence to be erased.
This would be the last game designed by both Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy, as Crowe would be relocated to Sierra's sister company Dynamix shortly after the game's release.
This video game provides examples of:
- Apocalypse How: Roger's homeworld of Xenon has the little matter of the supercomputer controlling all technology turning it against the hapless population. Then Roger goes and formats it.
- Apocalyptic Log: Pr. Lloyd's message about the Vohaul-corrupted computer. Does a very good job of telling both Roger and the player what happened, and the Crapsack World they're in. Complete with a plea from the message to save Xenon.
- Back to the Early Installment: Roger steals a time-machine from the Sequel Police, and one place he ends up visiting is Ulence Flats, from the very first game of the series, complete with the original graphics, while he and the time machine remain in the much more modern graphics of the current game.
- Bad Future: Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II is this, basically. A chilling example of Crapsack World where Vohaul cements his No-Nonsense Nemesis credentials.
- Bittersweet Ending: So, Roger saves the day in Space Quest XII and defeats Vohaul hopefully once and for all. He gets a heartfelt moment with his son, and a glimpse of his future wife, who was very beautiful. However, he also learns he was not available in Space Quest XII to stop Vohaul, but does not learn his ultimate fate or his wife's, and is left with more questions than answers. To top it all, he is stuck in a Stable Time Loop where he can only let things unfold until they reach the Crapsack World he just saved, because they already happened, and a Time Paradox would mean getting Ret-Gone (at least until Roger Jr. was born).
- Bilingual Bonus: Space Piston could be titled Space Press, as press is piston in French.
- Body Horror:
- The poor souls wandering the streets of Xenon, given a lobotomy and fixed with headgear that keeps their eyes permanently wired open. All they can manage for speech is a scream.
- What Vohaul does to Roger Jr's body. In the CD version you can actually see his deranged and very disturbing face when he talks to Roger, with crazy Spiky Hair and bloodshot red eyes.
- What can happen to you on Ortega. Or what happens to you if you muck with the slime in the sewers.
- Brain Uploading: Vohaul with the supercomputer, and then Roger Jr.
- Clothing Damage: Roger's shoes and pant legs get vaporized by the Latex Babes of Estros in preparation for leg-shaving based torture. Shortly after, you must get replacement clothes in order to enter Monolith Burger, which has a "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" policy.
- Continuity Nod: As per the Space Quest I remake, SQIV Roger comes in his time pod, just after SQI Roger takes off.
- Continuity Snarl: Roger returns to the Space Quest I EGA era, but in the Space Quest I VGA remake, the timepod shows up at Ulence Flats when it is entirely VGA, and the timepod appears in a different location than where it appeared in Space Quest IV. The Monochrome Boys dialogue would only make sense if the graphics remain in EGA. The Space Quest Companion hint book attempts to merge the branches by having Roger remember details of both versions.
- Covers Always Lie: On the cover, Roger uses his plunger on Vohaul. In game you can't do this since there's no plunger and Vohaul isn't even human anymore.
- Also, nobody in the game is ever called "the Time Rippers".
- Crapsack World: Xenon in Space Quest XII is reduced to a hellhole wasteland.
- Darker and Edgier:
- Holy $#!%. In Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, Vohaul could pass off as Laughably Evil or at best, dishing Cool and Unusual Punishment with his army of cloned insurance salesmen who don't take "NO" for an answer. In Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, the Pirates of Pestulon came off as scary yet firmly comedy with their jell-o guns and Elmo Pug. But here? In the introduction, Vohaul sends henchmen to kill you after a last moment of Evil Gloating, and you escape within an inch of your life. Within the first minutes of the game, it is possible to meet with a rotting zombie who will scream his lungs out at you (getting you killed in the process) upon locking gazes, and to stumble upon an Apocalyptic Log letting you figure out that Vohaul has caused an outright apocalypse of Class 1 if not Class 2 on Xenon.
- Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II era is a bleak wasteland Bad Future world ripe with thunderstorms, all meant for the player to understand how terrifying Vohaul is, if left unchecked by Idiot Hero Roger Wilco.
- To say nothing of how scary it is to have to evade Sequel Police henchmen who are in most situations certainly not guilty of Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy, and who can and will One-Hit Kill you.
- Dead-End Room: The "Room Removed For Legal Reasons" Easter Egg can't be exited once you leave the time pod — when you try to reenter, the narrator will simply inform you that you've been removed for legal reasons.
- Deliberately Monochrome: The Monochrome Boys in Space Quest IV. They make fun of Roger for his "fancy VGA graphics".
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Since this is a Space Quest game, this is to be expected, since Roger Wilco is arguably incompetent and a jerk to a lot of people. However, averted when his son acknowledges at the end, after having defeated Vohaul again, that Xenon really owes him a lot.
- Easter Egg: Entering a code into the timepod that's simply the first six buttons in order will transport Roger to Ortega in Space Quest III. As this time there is no way to obtain temperature-regulating clothing, Roger will immediately perish from the heat if he tries to leave the pod.
- Elite Mooks: The Sequel Police are basically this. Competent, obstinate, and ruthless.
- Evil Gloating: Vohaul in the introduction, when he takes the time to show himself to Roger and explain to him how he is going to die at the hands of the Sequel Police. Too bad, if he had dispensed with the gloating, it might have worked.
- Evil Overlord: Vohaul, in the Bad Future, has basically become a successful version of this. Complete with the boast in the introduction.
- Evil Plan: Besides Make Wrong What Once Went Right by killing Roger in the past using all the dirty tricks in the book, there is none: Vohaul has already won. Space Quest XII shows us the consequences of a successful evil plan of Brain Upload to Leisure Suit Larry floppy disks.
- Evil Tower of Ominousness: The Xenon Super Computer dome in the Space Quest XII time period, which now serves as Vohaul's base of operations. It looks like a "vast boil" on the ruined landscape.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Getting captured by the flying creature and the Laxtex Babes is necessary to finish the game.
- Faux Action Girl: Zondra and the other Latex Babes look cool and love to brandish their weapons, but they don't even try to fight the sea slug that attacks their base, and after they take Roger to the Galleria they ditch him to go shopping.
- Faux Affably Evil: Vohaul does crack a few pleasantries at Wilco, but no one is fooled. Plus, there is the matter of the Crapsack World that is Xenon in the Bad Future, and what he does to poor Roger Jr.
- Final Battle: A mild example in that it is just a showdown between Roger and Vohaul-in-RogerJr's-body, but with a lot at stake: the supercomputer is formatting, Roger's life and Roger Jr's life, not to mention Xenon's fate are on the line. The soundtrack also drives the point home very clearly. All of this makes the short sequence where Roger has to wrestle Roger Jr. in the Brain Upload beam extremely satisfying, and the ending very rewarding.
- For Want Of A Nail: Space Quest XII is basically what would happen to Xenon if Roger Wilco Sr. was unavailable to stop Vohaul. Quite jarring.
- Futureshadowing: With Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros. Will probably never be actually played upon (the developers deliberately made pseudo-future games with ridiculously high numbers they knew the series would probably never reach, making them yet another joke).
- Game-Breaking Bug: How quickly the Sequel Police chase Roger down in the Galleria and blow him away when the game's run on systems faster than what it was originally released for. Worse, modern rereleases generally don't fix this. Fortunately, emulating it through ScummVM instead of Dosbox fixes most known issues with the game.
- Gameplay and Story Integration: A rather meta example, but all the same, when Roger's back in the original EGA version of Space Quest I, the save menu turns 8-bit too.
- Game Within a Game:
- You go into two (completely fictional) sequels to the game, and also into a portion of Space Quest I. In fact, there's exactly one playable room in the entire game whose title bar actually reads "Space Quest IV", and it's a Dummied Out Easter Egg.
- The Miss Astro Chicken game in the arcade in the mall.
- Grand Theft Me: Vohaul pulls this on Roger Wilco Jr.
- Guide Dang It!: Par for the course, as a Sierra game.
- The unstable ordnance bit for that Last Lousy Point.
- It actually went meta, you can get the hintbook for Space Quest IV in Space Quest X, though since you are time-travelling and not actually playing in the Space Quest IV era, the hints are mostly useless! Mostly a parody of strategy guides note , though it does end up helping you save the day.
- Hate Sink: Despite being a silly villain in '"Space Quest II"", Sludge Vohaul becomes totally repulsive in this game. Vohaul takes over Xenon's computer system in the future, killing almost everyone on Xenon in the process and turning many of the survivors into his cyborg slaves. Vohaul tries to kill Wilco in the present, and when that fails, he uploads his brain into Roger Wilco's son and sends his minions throughout time to find and kill Wilco.
- I Have Your Wife: In the CD version at least, it's possible that hooking up the laptop will, instead of showing the map, show a cutscene where Vohaul hijacks the feed and tells Roger he's holding Roger Jr. prisoner.
- It's Personal: On two counts.
- Kid from the Future: Roger Wilco's son, to be precise.
- Knight of Cerebus: Despite the Darker and Edgier tone of the game, Vohaul is still at least a little comedic, but the Sequel Police are never played for laughs and always treated as serious threats, even when getting killed or swimming after you in zero gravity. They're completely merciless and it takes split-second timing to outwit them.
- La Résistance: Time travelers butting heads with the Sequel Police to find Roger in the Space Quest IV era and send him to Space Quest XII to defeat Vohaul, on grounds that he's the only person in history who ever managed to do it. They're reduced to a handful by the time the game begins, and it is hinted that Roger Jr. is the only survivor.
- Let's Just Be Friends: When Roger got rid of the sea slug monster, Zondra reconciles with you and says that they should remain friends.
- Loads and Loads of Loading: The Amiga version can be played using the floppy disks, but it requires reading from the floppy disks frequently. It's also unplayable on a stock Amiga 500, as the user is switching between the Startup disk and Disk 1 at least four times before the title screen appears. The user needs an expansion floppy disk drive, or a hard drive to install the game. Also, if the Amiga doesn't have enough RAM available (e.g. having additional floppy drives or launching from Workbench), the audio switches to the equivalent of PC-audio.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Roger doesn't have a clue to why Zondra has a grudge against him since he's traveling forward in the future.
- Make Wrong What Once Went Right: Vohaul planning to kill Roger in the past to ensure his total control over the future.
- Meanwhile, in the Future…: Played straight. As Roger saves his own ass in Space Quest X, the player is treated to a cut scene of Vohaul back in Space Quest XII where Roger Jr. has been captured, and is revealed as Roger's son.
- Moving the Goalposts: It isn't actually possible to buy any of the parody games from the software store. Their prices get higher every time you get money.
- Ms. Fanservice: Zondra and the rest of the Latex Babes of Estros are clad in super-tight swimsuit-like outfits.
- Mythology Gag: The Vohaul Virus managed to infect Xenon's computers because it was stored on a set of disks claiming to be a Leisure Suit Larry game. In real life, pirated copies of the original LSL were in fact used as vectors for computer viruses and were even responsible for wiping out the entire databases of several banks due to bored employees wanting to play the game.
- Navel-Deep Neckline: Zondra wears a one-piece swimsuit with a plunging neckline that goes down to her stomach.
- Nitro Express: If you take the unstable ordnance from the tank, it explodes and kills you when you go into the sewer.
- Non-Standard Game Over: Deleting Space Quest IV from the supercomputer immediately quits to operating system, with no warning.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Vohaul has been upgraded into this. Instead of keeping Roger alive to watch him suffer like he did in Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, he sends henchmen to kill Roger in the introduction. He also does away with the cheesy nonsense plans.
- Our Time Machine Is Different: Two variants of time machines are shown in the game.
- The Sequel Police has time pods operated with undecipherable time codes, and Roger has to luck into going to Space Quest X. Also, there is an Easter Egg with the six first digits letting you go to Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon.
- The resistance managed to steal some of the technology and created hair-dryer-like time guns capable of opening the eponymous time rips in which Roger is thrust in the introduction and at the end.
- Press X to Die: An unhinted Easter Egg time code you might stumble upon by chancenote can take the time pod to the superheated world of Ortega from Space Quest III. If you then exit the time pod... you instantly melt and die.
- Race Against the Clock: At the end when formatting the supercomputer. Especially on faster computers.
- Red Herring: The unstable ordnance. There is no way to use it in the game, and if you take it, it will explode in your pocket later on, resulting in a game over. Downplayed, since the game still gives you points for taking it from the tank, and some more points for deciding to put it back.
- Retail Therapy: What Zondra proposes after Roger saves her and the other Latex Babes from the sea slug.
Zondra: Well girls, I feel like celebrating. LET'S GO SHOPPING!!!
- Ret-Gone: Can happen to you if you leave without saving Roger Jr. after formatting the computer brain. Why? Because without Roger Jr., you can't go back to your time in the Space Quest IV era, so you weren't there to see the end of the game, and father the son who would save your life, so you can't perpetuate the Stable Time Loop.
- Retraux: Roger can travel to Ulence Flats in Space Quest I: The Sarien Encounter, and it's possible to get to Ortega in Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, though stepping outside of Roger's time pod in the latter results in him melting very quickly.
- Riddle for the Ages: What's the plot of Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros? What happens between Roger and Zondra?
- Ridiculous Future Sequelisation: The Time Travel theme labelled its various time periods using sequel numbers. The post-apocalyptic future into which Roger was initially thrown is identified as Space Quest XII; the galactic mall in the Space Quest X period also tosses a reference to King's Quest XXXXVIII: The Quest For More Disk Space (back in the days before CD-ROM drives) stated to be by "Roberta Williams III".
- Ripped from the Headlines: The backstory, in which some scientists discover a box containing Leisure Suit Larry software, run it on their supercomputer, and fall victim to the Vohaul virus, is reminiscent of an event that actually happened in the late 80s.
- Scare Chord:
- When you meet the zombie close up. It nails home how horrified it feels recognizing Roger.
- When the Droid-O-Death comes on the screen in Xenon's streets. Which can also follow the aforementioned scare chord.
- Vohaul's theme arguably. This means nothing good when you hear it or its variations (including the Droid-O-Death theme), like in the Apocalyptic Log from Pr. Lloyd.
- Schmuck Bait: The unstable ordinance. The official walkthrough even tells you to take it, though it's mainly to demonstrate the save and restore features to people unfamiliar with Sierra games.
- Schrödinger's Question: When you first get into the Sequel Police's time pod, you have no information and no choice but to try codes at random. Conveniently, the second code you try always happens to lead to Space Quest X.
- Self-Deprecation: At how much hard drive space these games took up, with just the title alone of King's Quest XXXXVIII: The Quest For More Disk Space. Likewise, deleting King's Quest XLIII off the supercomputer frees up just shy of 850 billion gigs of memory.
- Shoot the Dog: After making peace with Zondra, Roger impersonates her and empties her bank account with her ATM card. If you don't do it, you can't save Xenon and finish the game.
- Shoplift and Die: You have no excuse, the game gives you ample warning.
- Something We Forgot: See Ret-Gone. You gotta save your son, or you cease existing. Notably, in the following game, if Beatrice is killed, the game also gives you a Non Standard Game Over, because this entire game couldn't have happened.
- Sore Loser: Vohaul makes no effort to hide it in the introduction, and Pr. Lloyd confirms this when relating how the supercomputer got infected by the Vohaul virus, uttering "WILCO MUST PAY" through any output device available.
- Spanner in the Works: Roger is this to Vohaul, who fully knows it for having experienced defeat at his hands twice. This prompts him to take drastic action, kicking off the plot of the game.
- Stable Time Loop: Ends up becoming this.
- Stylistic Self-Parody: In Ulence Flats, the Monochrome Boys accuse Roger of wasting color by being a 256 color VGA bitmap, saying, "What a waste of VGA." The Monochrome Boys are being somewhat hypocritical, as they are represented in 256 color VGA resolution instead of Space Quest I's 160×200 resolution. The difference between Roger is they are in grayscale instead of full color, while a traditional monochrome graphics setting would be in low resolution in only black and white. Graphics display modes with monochrome support included MDA, HGC, CGA, MCGA or EGA, with older games having a menu to select a graphics mode before starting a game.
- The EGA version of the game has them in proper monochrome (black and white) and thus accuse Roger of wasting his 16 colors.
- Take That!: The various games in the game store's bargain bin are thinly veiled parodies of other popular games including Boom, Sim Sim, It Came For Dessert, and Where in the World is Hymie Lipschitz? with rather insulting descriptions. Then there's King's Quest XXXXVIII, which is more along the lines of Biting-the-Hand Humor.
- Technology Marches On: Invoked in game. You see the PocketPal sold in the mall in Space Quest X, as a brand new piece of tech, but you find it discarded in a scrapped car in ''Space Quest XII'. Props to the Supercomputer for being compatible with legacy technology, along with the playful jab at the myriad of connectors one could end up trying with outdated technology before finding the right one.
- In a more literal example, this makes less sense now because any computer now has had USB ports for a while, and they are now pretty much ubiquitous. Though… If the Supercomputer is comparable to a mainframe of old (the PocketPal being a proverbial dumb terminal), then the connector might pass as a stand-in for RS-232 nowadays.
- Theme Music Power-Up: When Roger uses the time pod. It can go two ways:
- Either you entered the wrong code, and the theme music flubs up.
- But when you entered the right code, the Time Ripper variation of the Space Quest main theme feels like you are going on an awesome ride, far away from all your troubles!
- Re-used at the very end when Roger Jr. sends you back to the SQIV era so you can see the end of the game.
- Time Police: The Sequel Police. Though they are not here to enforce proper causality and avoid time paradoxes, they're acting under orders from Vohaul to terminate Roger, and prevent further sequels to ensure Vohaul remains the Evil Overlord.
- Took a Level in Badass: Vohaul is far more intimidating this time around, and as of Space Quest XII seems to have already won.
- Torture Cellar: Played with. The Latex Babes' base in Space Quest X is this, except the torture implements are rather unusual, though no less terrifying to any male.
- Underestimating Badassery: Averted. This time around, Vohaul fully knows that Roger is quite capable of foiling his plans, and therefore acts accordingly, sending minions to just shoot Roger in the head and be done with it before he even knows Vohaul's up to something.
- Underwater Base: The HQ of the Latex Babes is underwater.
- Villain Ball: Vohaul just had to transfer Roger Jr's soul to a floppy disk, and then tell Roger Sr about it…
- Voice of the Legion: Roger Jr's voice, when Vohaul possesses him, is both his natural voice and Vohaul's speaking in unison in the CD version.
- Walking Swimsuit Scene: The Latex Babes are wearing swimsuits, which is justified since their base is underwater. However, they do wear streets clothes when going shopping.
- What Year Is This?: Averted and Leaning on the Fourth Wall. Roger can tell what era he is by casually glancing at the status bar.
- This is how he knows he landed in Space Quest XII: Vohaul's Revenge II at the beginning of the game.
- Also, the SP and Roger Jr. refer to time periods by the sequel numbers.
- Wham Line: On two counts, one in a Cut Scene, and one Roger can actually witness in-game.
- In the Meanwhile, in the Future… Cut Scene:
Vohaul: Well, what have we here?
: This is the rebel scum
we captured in the Space Quest 4 time sector.
Sequel Policeman: The readout on his time gun indicates that Wilco was successfully transported into this time sector, as you feared.
Vohaul: That is no longer a concern.
Vohaul: Wilco will surrender to us once he has learned we have captured his SON!
- Vohaul goes and pulls a dramatic The Reveal on Roger, as he goes snooping in the supercomputer with his PocketPal (once you got the right adapter from Space Quest X; And the game even went through the trouble of including a spoken sample in the floppy version!):
Vohaul: Take a good look, Roger!
Vohaul: Remember this poor, wretched soul, for he is your SON!
- When Roger Jr. uses a Suspiciously Specific Tense when talking about Roger's future wife.
- Wetware CPU: Xenon's Super Bio Mech computer. Probably justifies that it has features such as Brain Uploading.