Big K

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
By Infocom
Apple Mac

Published in Big K #12

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy

Jumping Jupiter! Brain the size of a planet (I mutter quietly to myself) and they want me to review another naff text adventure. Frontal lobels fried by the after-effects of too many Pan-galactic Gargleblasters, I attempt to insert the cute little 3.5" floppy. Nine attempts later, I discover that the cute little 3.5" floppy is actually a postcard from Bognor. Finally locating the required artefact, I do the necessary, and suddenly I'm this Dent guy with - guess what? - a hangover. Why stop just when I'm enjoying it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is a wholly remarkable game. For one thing, even I noticed that it has the words "Don't Panic" inscribed in large friendly letters on the cover. For another, it's very very funny.

For the three molluscs on Procyon XIII who haven't encountered one of the many incarnations of the classic (radio, TV, book, etc), the narrative concerns one Arthur Dent, a member of the primitive society inhabiting a ratty little slum planet in the Sol system. Arthur is whisked off into interstellar space through the agency of his friend Ford Prefect, an apparent human who is in fact a megabeing from Betelgeuse in disguise. He thereby escapes the total destruction of his planet to make way for a hyperspace bypass. His subsequent adventures are a hilarious send-up of every SF cliche invented.

The game is even funnier than the book. Apart from the fact that it comes with so many wonderful free gifts, such as a Microscopic Space Fleet for attacking microscopic civilisations with, and a delightful piece of... pocket fluff - no details have been missed. None of those curt messages saying "You're dead", no you can carry right on playing even after snuffing it. Unfortunately, however, even the simplest of messages, such as LOOK gets the response, "You keep out of this, you're dead." Eventually though, you develop a goof firm rigor mortis and can play again. There are gratuitously silly replies to almost any input you can think of and, as a result, playing the game becomes less a matter of winning than of, well, playing the game I suppose.

Best of all, no graphics - just lots and lots of the tightest adventure game prose I've even seen. HHGTTG deserves a final mention for the best adventure game manual I've ever eaten, sorry, beaten (shouldn't spend so much time hanging around with alien scum). This game really knows there its towel is.