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(based on 179 ratings)
About the Story
Don't Panic! Relax, because everything you need to know about playing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is contained in the pages of this manual. In this story, you will be Arthur Dent, a rather ordinary earth creature who gets swept up in a whirlwind of interstellar adventures almost beyond comprehension.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: 59
License: Commercial (Out of Print)
Development System: ZIL
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
Spoofed by Coke Is It!, by Lucian P. Smith, Adam Thornton, J. Robinson Wheeler, Michael Fessler, Dan Shiovitz, David Dyte
Followed by sequel Not Found, by Unknown
Referenced in Nothing But Mazes, by Greg Boettcher
32nd Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2015 edition)
46th Place - Interactive Fiction Top 50 of All Time (2019 edition)
Adventure Classic Gaming
The game is richly described, backed by an excellent forgiving parser, and more fun to play than you can shake a stick at. The only dark spot in an otherwise sterling effort is Adams' convoluted sense of logic, compounded by an unsatisfying ending. Other frustrations of the game owe more to the paradigm of game design from the early era of interactive fiction than anything Adams has done himself.
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is notorious though for its difficulty level and generally being “mean” to the player.
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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.
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[...] the game follows the book pretty closely in parts but, naturally, can't go into the same detail. It is worth reading the book as it will help with some parts of the adventure - of course, it's well worth reading the book anyway as it is so terrifically funny. But I think that even though the game is standard level, certain bits would be quite tricky to solve without the benefit of reading the book first.
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This game was my introduction to Infocom adventures, and what an introduction. It took me two weeks to get past that bulldozer [...] (Kedenan)
I was a bit disappointed by the ending of HHGTTG which was rather abrupt and suddenly bumped your score up when you'd thought you still had a fair way to go. What was more of a shame was the lack of the promised follow-up. A good game, though, and certainly a 'must' for any fans of Douglas Adams. (Sue)
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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the brainchild of Douglas Adams. It started life in 1978 as a BBC radio series and quickly gained a cult following. From this grew four books, two records, three stage productions, a television series, the promise of a feature length movie and finally, an Adventure from Infocom.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (hereafter referred to as HGG) is set in a very high-tech galaxy with lots of computers, spaceships, robots and other technological marvels. Strange as it may seem, Adams had never even touched a computer when he originally wrote the radio series. His first encounter with a computer was about three years ago. Now he loves them!
After discovering computers, Adams also discovered Adventures and took a particular liking to Infocom's unique style. I believe he approached Infocom and suggested a collaboration to bring HGG to the computer. Infocom normally does all their work "in house", but this particular collaboration must have appealed to their warped sense of humour. So Douglas Adams teamed up with Steve Meretzky (author of Planetfall and Sorcerer) to bring us yet another Infocom classic.
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Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy is co-written by Douglas Adams, and the strong prose shows this. The game is very imaginative and vibrant.
On the other hand, the puzzles are (I assume) by Steve Meretzky, who is one of my least favorite puzzle writers from Infocom. Sorcerer, though great, was my least favorite Enchanter game, and I get tired of Planetfall early on. So when I started this game, I was scared of any misstep sending me on a wild goose chase into an unsavable state.
So I just used a walkthrough and sailed through the game, enjoying the witty prose. I plan to go back and read more of the room descriptions and the actual guide. I often find that this approach works with very difficult or unfair games, because the second playthrough can be done without a walkthrough, allowing your memory to help you on some puzzles but still having fun with those you forgot.
The game has several puzzles that are frequently referenced in interactive fiction reviews and forums: the Babel-fish puzzle, and the tea. It may be worthwhile to play through with a walkthrough just to see these.
Note that Douglas Adams released this game for free when Activision went a long time without selling it. I don't know the current status of it, but he intended to freely distribute it at least once in the past. It is not available on Lost Treasures of Infocom for iPad, my usual go-to place for Infocom games.
Just this morning, I witnessed two online conversants discuss the "overrated" nature of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Typically, I interpret the term "overrated" as an oblique yet economical way of saying "most people like this more than I do."
Still, since it was Infocom's second best-selling game after Zork I, it could be both overrated and quite good all at the same time. For those who have never heard of this game, it is based on approximately half of the beloved Douglas Adams novel of the same name. While I think it is a commonly-held belief that Steve Meretzky performed most of the technical development while Adams was responsible for the text (and was a co-designer of puzzles, perhaps), most researchers today know better. In fact, we generally accept that the game is almost entirely Meretzky's design, barring the source text (all Adams, obviously) and some significant consultations.
Like all of Meretzky's Infocom games (we can debate Zork Zero some other time), it's a worthwhile play for anyone interested in 1980s interactive fiction. His humorous prose blends perfectly with parts written by Adams (whether original or taken from the novel). This is a very funny game as a result, and I would say the laughs alone are worth the price of admission.
However, from a historical perspective, there are interesting formal innovations that truly set it apart, content aside. First, it includes several metatextual features that playfully subvert what we then expected out of a narrator-player relationship. Additionally, it was Infocom's first modular design, featuring multiple, small maps and more than one playable character. These features would have felt quite new and exciting back in 1984, even if they were overshadowed by the game's signature elements: Douglas Adams as author, humor, and possibly unreasonable puzzle design.
What of puzzles? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is surprisingly difficult for a "Standard" difficulty game. In fact, the conventional wisdom is that it is "Standard" only because "Advanced" or "Expert" would have discouraged sales. I personally think it's harder than Starcross, that other difficult science fiction game. Players can easily lock themselves out of victory. In all honesty, they probably will. These conditions can feel quite cheap, as one can reach the penultimate move of the game, only to discover the impossibility of the situation.
What is comparable? The "flouresce" spell in Zork II, perhaps.
The Invisiclues are readily available online. Do yourself a favor and keep them close at hand. They are at least fun to read, written as they were by Steve Meretzky himself. If you are only interested in puzzles, or somehow dislike Adams or Meretzky, give this a pass. Otherwise, this is a very innovative game with Meretzky's best writing to-date. Highly recommended for players interested in 80s IF, Infocom, or the evolution of IF narrative stuctures. Alternately, just use the hints and laugh your way through.
Hitchhikers is one of those games at times so dastardly, so unfair, so evil, that it shouldn't be enjoyable to play. But thanks to the wonderfully enjoyable writing of Douglas Adams and Steve Meretzky, HHGTG is an enjoyable puzzle-fest.
Sure some of the puzzles take dieing and restarting to solve, others take immense amounts of obtuse logic to complete. Because of the difficulty, HHGTG is very fulfilling if you complete it. It's a must play for fans of a) Douglas Adams or b) Classic puzzle-laden Infocom IF.
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