The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Reviewed by JACK POWELL and MICHAEL CIRAOLO
We know how to get the Babel Fish. But don't ask us. We won't tell you. And Don't Panic, the clue is right there in the game.
We're talking about Infocom's new text adventure, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, based upon the first of that insanely funny series of books by British author and exbodyguard Douglas Adams. If you haven't read the book, please do. It will definitely help you in the game.
For those culturally deprived members of our audience, the game generally follows the cult-classic book although Adams did write extensive (and very funny) new material for the adventure.
The excitement opens as you awake to a hangover in your bed in Cottington, England. Playing the part of Arthur Dent, hapless earthling, you must quickly come to terms with existence ...
Your house is about to be demolished to make way for a highway bypass. No matter, really. The earth is about to be destroyed by a Vogon Constructor Fleet to make way for a hyperspace bypass.
But wait! There's more! Infocom takes YOU, the feckless adventurer, to worlds beyond imagination: "Welfare planets ruled by dry-cleaning establishments, where even the most basic of human necessities are provided a day late and with too much starch." And so on.
Face it-this is not your run-of-the-mill text adventure. If you're going to survive, you'll need your trusty Hitchhikers Guide (built into the game) and a towel! Be warned: Despite its "standard level" rating, this is the most challenging game we've seen from Infocom. (Have YOU gotten the Babel Fish or bested the Ravenous BugBlatter Beast of Traal?)
The puzzles are tough, but they follow a certain capricious, twisted internal logic. As we played, we encountered repeated dead ends. When we finally discovered the answers, we found the solution was logical and often accompanied by previous clues.
In fact, if you stumble around enough in certain problem areas, the computer will eventually throw in a hint.
The best way to understand this British whimsy is to read and enjoy Adams' books or possibly the works of Lewis Carroll.
This extraordinary game is the result of an unusual partnership. Adams, who is a long-time fan of Infocom games, approached the company with the possibility of doing a game based on his book. He teamed up with Steven Meretzky, the award-winning author of Infocom's Sorcerer and Planetfall.
The result is a step forward from Infocom's safe, established approach to game design. It is a break from the tradition of event-specific mysteries and plotless underground dungeons. The style of writing is distinct and tangible-really the first stylistic departure since the classic Zork trilogy.
Tips for novices: play the game with a grizzled Infocom adventurer OR a crazed Hitchhikers fan.
And now, we now have a confession to make. We had planned on getting this review into print at least a month ago, but we hoped to finish the game first. Alas, we simply haven't been able to get past the Screening Door. So, if anyone out there has a clue...
This text adventure is available from Infocom, Inc., 55 Wheeler Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, phone (617) 492-1031. $34.95, 48K-disk.