The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (computer game)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (computer game)

Infobox VG| title = The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

developer = Infocom
tagline = Don't Panic!
publisher = Infocom
designer = Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky
engine = ZIL
released = Release 47: September 14, 1984
Release 56: December 21, 1984
Release 58: October 2 1985
Release 59: November 8, 1985
Solid Gold: November 19 1987
genre = Interactive fiction
modes = Single-player
ratings = n/a
platforms = Amiga, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, Amstrad PCW, MS-DOS, TRS-80, TI-99/4A, Macintosh
media = 3½" or 5¼" disk
requirements = No special requirements
input = Keyboard

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is an interactive fiction computer game based on the seminal comic science fiction series of the same name. It was designed by series creator Douglas Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, and was first released in 1984 for the Apple II, Macintosh, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST and the IBM PC. It is Infocom's fourteenth game.


The game loosely mirrors a portion of the series' plot, beginning with the impending destruction of Arthur Dent's house and subsequent demolition of the Earth by Vogons.

After being rescued from open space by the "Heart of Gold" and figuring out how to activate the Infinite Improbability Drive, the player is hurled through space and time, assuming the roles of Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian at various intervals. (The question of the player character's identity at any time can be answered by the WHO AM I command.) For the majority of the game, Arthur Dent is the main player character.

An in-game virtual edition of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" provides a variety of major and minor characters, locations, and miscellany from the series that can be referenced, if not directly encountered. Topics ranging from Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters to Galaxia Woonbeam can be looked up with the command CONSULT GUIDE ABOUT .

The ultimate goal of the game is casually mentioned by Zaphod in an offhanded manner: finding the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. While the other characters relax in the ship's sauna, however, Arthur has to jump through a number of hoops to collect a bizarre array of tools and four types of fluff before the "Heart of Gold" gets anywhere near the planet. The problem of managing this burgeoning inventory is neatly handled by a humorously ill-defined object called "That thing your aunt gave you which you don't know what it is", which has two important attributes: a nearly limitless capacity for holding other objects, and a penchant for showing up in the player's inventory after seemingly being lost.

When the characters finally set foot on Magrathea, the game ends with the never-fulfilled promise of a thrilling sequel.


Most Infocom games contained "feelies", bonus novelty items included to enhance the immersiveness of the game. The feelies provided with this game included:
*A pin-on button with "Don't Panic!" printed in large, friendly letters (opposite of a "Panic Button")
*A small plastic packet containing "pocket fluff" (a cottonball)
*Order for destruction of Arthur Dent's house
*Order for destruction of Earth written in "Vogon"
*Official Microscopic Space Fleet (an empty plastic bag)
*"Peril Sensitive Sunglasses" (a pair of opaque black cardboard "sunglasses")
*"How Many Times Has This Happened to You?", an advertising brochure for the fictional guidebook/encyclopedia "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"
*No tea


"HHGTTG" gained a reputation for deviousness. "The Babel Fish Dispenser" was a particularly tricky puzzle appearing very early in the game. Failure to "solve" the Babel fish puzzle did not kill the player, but rendered the remainder of the game unwinnable. That particular puzzle became so notoriously difficult that Infocom wound up selling T-shirts bearing the legend, "I got the Babel Fish!" [ [ Interview with Steve Meretzky, co-author of the Game] from BBC - Radio 4] Another fiendish puzzle involved the ten tools scattered throughout the game's locations. One of the final puzzles involved Marvin asking for a particular tool to use in unjamming the ship's hatch. If the player had failed to collect ten, Marvin would invariably ask for one of the missing ones. Likewise, while the opening section of the game closely resembles the opening scenes of the original radio play and book, there are several actions not in the radio play or book that the player must perform in order to make the game winnable. In spite of all of this, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" was rated as "Standard" difficulty by Infocom's rating system.

Curiously, the player is seldom given an actual purpose, apart from the implicit goal stated by the inventory item of "no tea". Much of the game is spent simply reacting to situations, such as the impending deaths variously threatened by bulldozers, matter-transference hangovers, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, or nuclear missiles. This lack of direction had little effect in deterring fans of Adams' work.

Like many Infocom games, an InvisiClues booklet was available for this game, as a separate product.

The Infocom version of "Hitchhiker's Guide" quickly became a fan classic; it was one of five top-selling Infocom games to be produced in Solid Gold versions, with a built-in hint system not included in the originals. The game was re-released by Activision in several collection packages before rights reverted to Adams, enabling The Digital Village to re-release it as a web-based Java applet. Originally published as a fund-raising tool on the 1997 Comic Relief website, it took up permanent residence on Adams' own website the following year.

On September 21 2004 the BBC launched the 20th Anniversary Edition to coincide with the initial radio broadcast of the "Tertiary Phase". Sporting a Flash user interface, and illustrated by Rod Lord (who also produced the guide animations for the Hitchhiker's TV series), it won the Interactive BAFTA Award for Best Online Entertainment. [ [ "BBC leads interactive Bafta wins"] from BBC News on March 2 2005]

Once BAFTA judging had completed, the BBC re-launched the game in two distinct versions to showcase new artwork for scenes and objects deliberately omitted from the first release. While both editions retain Rod Lord's illustrations, all placeholder graphics were replaced by artwork designed and sent in by contest participants. One edition includes the artwork of overall winner Nolan Worthington, the other features the work of runners-up.

The original text-only version appeared in an exhibition called "Game On", which has toured museums worldwide since 2002, representing the text-based genre of computer games.

The game has 35 locations (or "rooms"). By some accounting, it only has 31 rooms, but 35 also counts the rooms that the player has to visit in the maze.


A proposed sequel, "Milliways: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", which was to continue from the ending of the original, had problems from the start in 1985, until it was cancelled in 1989. This was due primarily down to the facts that there was 'no solid game design, nobody to program it, and the backdrop of Infocom's larger economic problems'. [ [ blog about the cancelled game] by Andy Baio] The beginning stages of the game were leaked in April 2008, however the majority of it had yet to be written by the time it was canceled. [ [ "Milliways", "Hitchhiker" sequel] , Java applet from]

The original source files in Z-code can also be downloaded, although an interpreter that supports Z-Machine version 4 and version 6 story files is required. [ [ Release 15 of "Milliways", "Hitchhiker" sequel] from (Z-code)] [ [ Release 184 of "Milliways", "Hitchhiker" sequel] from (Z-code)]


Well, the most famous and certainly a must-play is what you can find at the [ BBC site] , a text-based game with visuals, created by fans after a short contest for the 20th anniversary. Also another [ Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy game] , created using [ AGS] (Adventure Game Studio), is in production and will probably be released this year, attempting to transform the text-based game into a complete point and click game.


External links

* [ Illustrated online version]
* [ The Java version of the game on Douglas Adams website]
* [ Walkthrough solution] from "IGN"
* [ Pictures and scans of the package, feelies and documentation]
* [ The Infocom Bugs List entry] on the game
* [ A point and click remake of the Infocom's original game]

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