Arguably the best Infocom game ever made, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was an instant hit when it was first released in 1984. So it is no surprise that it was chosen as one of five games to be updated and re-released as a “Solid Gold” edition in 1987. The entire Solid Gold line was sadly not very well known, perhaps because most people assumed it was simply a re-release of the original game. This is not the case: the Solid Gold edition games include Infocom’s “InvisiClues” hints as an in-game feature, the game engine (“Z machine”) was updated to version 5 (which features a more versatile parser), and most bugs squashed. The Solid Gold therefore became the best edition of Infocom classics to own and play. |
As to this particular Solid Gold release, HHGTTG needs almost no introduction – if you grew up during the 1980s, you’ll bound to have heard of this classic. Graeme Cree sums up the reasons why the game is a must-play in this review for SPAG:
"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was Infocom's first game based on a novel (Shogun was the second), and is certainly their most famous product. As such, it faced heavy expectations both from the text game crowd and from fans of the book (I saved this game until I had played all of Infocom's 34 other text games, hoping to guarantee finishing with a winner). Fortunately, the game meets most expectations.
For those who don't know, you begin the game as Arthur Dent, a typical Englishman whose home is about to be demolished to make way for a new highway. Soon afterward, the earth itself is destroyed to make way for a new interstellar spacelane, and you must escape the holocaust with your alien friend Ford Prefect; first to a Vogon warship, and then to the Heart of Gold, run by Ford's friend Zaphod Beeblebrox. Once there, your goal becomes to land safely on the lost planet of Magrathea. To do this, you must search various corners of reality (changing identities a few times along the way) to acquire several different pieces of fluff, which when used properly will produce an item that will give you the clairvoyance necessary to open the hatch and set foot on the planet.
The writing is some of Infocom's very best, which is fortunate because the game itself is a little too short (only The Witness and Seastalker have fewer locations). The atmosphere produced is almost exactly like that of the book, even if specific details of the plot are often changed. The puzzles (including the legendary Babel Fish puzzle) are based on a brand of "consistent illogic" that is rather reminiscent of Lewis Carroll, and make the game one of those few that many will some day play again even after having solved it once. Hitchhiker's is one of the more literate text games on the market, as you will often have to pay more attention to how things are worded than you might in other games.
...Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the absence of the promised sequel. The story does not really end, it merely pauses and gives you a "to be continued" message just as you set foot on Magrathea. Though the sequel was promised many times (such as in the New Zork Times, and in the crystal ball in Beyond Zork, it never materialized. Since Infocom no longer has the rights to Hitchhiker's, it is unlikely that it ever will. (For those of you keeping track, the sequels promised by Infocom/Activision that [have never come out] are: Hitchhikers 2, Journey 2, Leather Goddesses 3 [and Planetfall 2: The Search for Floyd --- Underdogs]). Despite this, Hitchhiker's plusses massively outweigh the negatives, and the game remains one of the great classics of interactive fiction." If you enjoy IF games, you can’t call yourself a fan until you have played this masterpiece. And if you’re not yet a fan, this is the one game that may change your mind. A true classic in every sense of the word.
Reviewed by: Underdogs