Published in 1991
by Sierra Online
, Space Quest 4 was among the first Sierra adventures to benefit from their new VGA
, cursor based interface. The game was originally released in both VGA and EGA
versions, and later sold on CD
with full speech. It was mighty impressive at the time, with stunning hand-painted
backgrounds, full speech and digtized
Everyone's favourite space janitor (Unless you count the guy from Infocom's Planetfall), Roger Wilco, is nearly home after dropping off The Two Guys From Andromeda in their new jobs at Sierra. On his way, he stops over at Magmetheus for a quick drink.
Unbeknownst to him but beknownst to us (thank you, Spaceballs), Roger is being observed by a mysterious force. Two soldiers in Sequel Police uniforms enter the bar and ask Roger to accompany them outside, where he receives a holographic message from none other than Sludge Vohaul. Vohaul has a new plan, and orders the SP Officers to kill Roger. Just then, two soldiers jump down, knocking the officers out and lead Roger away.
With the SP Officers closing in, the soldier fires his gun at the wall, creating a shimmering tear in space. Roger jumps through, and emerges in the middle of a desolate city. This, he recognizes, is his home planet Xenon. But it's far in the future (Space Quest 12 to be exact) and everything's decaying and derelict. There's evidence of a major war, as combat vehicles are mixed in with the debris and civilian vehicles. Avoiding some strange, haggard cyborgs, Roger scavenges some equipment and descends into the sewers, where he finds an old holographic recording.
The recording tells how the people of Xenon built a huge supercomputer to control everything on the planet. The computer became infected with the Vohaul virus *dramatic chord* and soon Xenon was at war with itself. The population was decimated, and those who weren't killed either stayed to try and fight or fled the planet. The war is nearly lost. Emerging from the sewer, Roger sees a patrol ship land on the street and a squad of SP troopers climbs out. Sneaking aboard, Roger is carried up to the huge building housing the Supercomputer. Wandering around the landing bay, Roger steals a timepod and inadvertently sends himself back in time to Space Quest 10: The Latex Babes of Estros.
Wandering the strange surface of Estros, Roger narrowly avoids a run-in with the SP and is captured by the Latex Babes, one of whom has a bone to pick with him (he left her at the altar). Before the Babes can torture Roger (by shaving his legs with an 'EpiRip', owwie!) a huge sea slug attacks their hideout. Roger saves the day, and is forgiven by the Babes, who take him to celebrate by going shopping at the Galaxy Galleria.
Abandoned by the girls, Roger wanders the mall shopping for various items including a new uniform (his was ruined in the torture), a Space Quest 4 hintbook (filled with amusing hintbook parodies) and even a drag outfit. While playing Ms. Astro Chicken in Buckazoid Bill's Arcade and Sushi Bar, the SP turn up.
Narrowly escaping their attention, Roger steals their timepod and winds up in Space Quest 1: The Sarien Encounter, specfically in Ulence Flats on Kerona. Everything is blocky EGA graphics except Roger (which would support the theory of the dad in Calvin and Hobbes about old photos being 'colour pictures of black and white'), who has a minor adventure with some bikers in the bar. Meanwhile, Vohaul has captured Roger's son!
Returning at last to Space Quest 12, Roger breaks into the Supercomputer, deactivates the defensive systems and enters Vohaul's chamber. Vohaul injects his personality into the body of Roger's son, and the two are forced to do battle. Roger manages to force Vohaul/his son into a containment beam, reinserts his son's mind, and downloads Vohaul into the computer, which he formats.
Roger's son thanks him, and reveals that Roger will one day have a wife, Beatrice Wankmeister. Realizing he may reveal too much about the future, he prepares to contact the surviving inhabitants of Xenon, and sends Roger back through the time rip.
This is my second favourite of the games in the series, after Space Quest 3. The plot is clever, there's plenty to see and do, and as in Space Quest 3 you're free to use the timepod to wander between the various zones. If you push the first six button on the keypad, you can even visit Ortega in Space Quest 3!
Some cultural references, coming thick and fast!
The electronics shop in the mall was originally called 'Radio Shock' in the floppy versions, but was changed to 'Hz So Good' for the CD. The laptop was still made by 'Dandy', however.
The Energizer Bunny wanders the streets of post-apocalyptic Xenon. They really do keep going, and going, and going.
The grotesque cyborgs point and scream at you in a very Invasion of the Body Snatchers fashion.
The bit in King's Quest 5 where King Graham gets carried off by a giant bird can be seen from the pterodactyl nest if you wait long enough.
All of the software bargain bin in Software Excess (Software, Etc) is a nice big parody of popular titles at the time (my favourite is King's Quest XXVIII: the quest for disk space)
The Magmethus canteen is of course, the Mos Eisley cantina, right down to the searching soldiers.
Godwin's Law time, the SP officers wear VERY Gestapo-like uniforms.
There were only two minigames in Space Quest 4, Ms. Astro Chicken (where you fly over a farm, laying eggs onto shotgun-wielding farmers and barking dogs, while avoiding fences and windmills which shred you, and eating corn) and the Monolith Burger game (an intensely realistic simulation of production line hamburger making, all that seems to be missing is the step where they always squash my Big Bacon Classic at Wendy's). A unique feature of the game were the TASTE and SMELL features, where you could get some hilarious descriptions by trying to taste or smell just about anything in the game!