Oh, happy day.
Growing up, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” was one of my all-time favorite books. And with the help of author Douglas Adams (who died way too soon), it became one of my all-time favorite games.
Specifically, it’s a text adventure game — nomenclature that won’t make much sense if you’re under the age of 40. But here’s your chance to find out what all the fuss was about, and have some fun at the same time.
The BBC has issued The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game – 30th Anniversary Edition. It’s free to play, and there’s no need for old timey floppy disks: You experience it right in your browser.
A text adventure works like this: You’re given a brief description of where you are and what you see. No graphics, no sound effects, just text. To progress in the game, you type commands: “Open door,” “Pick up key,” “Go north,” and so forth. It’s not unlike those old “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, but with a lot more interactivity than just turning to page 67.
So, for example, Hitchhiker’s starts off by telling you that you’ve woken up in a pitch-black room that would be spinning if you could see it, which you can’t. And….go.
There’s nothing to shoot here (well, maybe later), no candy to crush, no birds to fling at pigs (though fans will agree the very notion sounds Adams-esque). It’s just you and your keyboard against the game’s AI. You’ll have to figure out the right commands to enter at the right moments–and avoid dying, which can actually happen quite often.
(You can save your game, which I recommend, but you’ll need to register for a BBC account.)
However, this being the 30th-anniversary edition, the BBC has souped up the experience a bit. Not only do you see some basic wireframe graphics representing your surroundings, you also get a visual inventory, a directional control pad, move and score counters, and even occasional sound effects.
It all makes for a somewhat more engaging experience than the original silent, text-only game. Thankfully, all of Adams’ humor remains intact. This is one funny game, guaranteed to make you chuckle, if not burst out laughing.
Whether you’re eager for a big helping of nostalgia or you’re curious what kinds of games your parents played in the olden days, this is an experience not to be missed.
By the way, if anyone at the BBC is taking requests for text adventures to revive next: Leather Goddesses of Phobos, please.
Photo credit: BBC