In this instalment, Roger Wilco embarks on a wacky time-travel adventure through Space Quest games both past and future. A reborn Sludge Vohaul from Space Quest XII chases Roger through time in an attempt to finally kill him. Roger also visits Space Quest X: Latex Babes of Estros (whose title is a parody of Infocom's game Leather Goddesses of Phobos) and Space Quest I; in the latter, the graphics and music revert to the style of the original game and Roger is threatened by a group of monochromatic bikers who consider Roger's 256 colors pretentious.
Like Space Quest III: The Pirates of Pestulon, Space Quest IV featured a mini-game (Ms. Astro Chicken).
Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers was released on floppy disks on March 4, 1991, and released on CD-ROM in December 1992 with full speech support and featuring Laugh-In announcer Gary Owens as the voice of the narrator. It featured 256-color hand painted graphics and a fully mouse-driven interface. It was one of the first games to use motion capture animation. The game cost over US$1,000,000 to produce, but sold more than its three predecessors combined.
The floppy disk version featured a reference to "Radio Shack" in the Galaxy Mall with a store called "Radio Shock". However, Sierra Entertainment received a notice from Radio Shack itself about their name being used without permission; the store name was changed to "Hz. So Good" in the CD-ROM version.