Beginning life as a BBC radio comedy series, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy went on to exist in many different forms, including a text-based adventure game in 1984. Thirty years after it was released the game has been recreated online by BBC Radio 4 Extra…
This isn’t the first time the HHGG game has been resurrected. It was made available on the BBC’s website for the game’s 20th anniversary back in 2004, dramatically increasing traffic to the Radio 4 website and winning a BAFTA along the way.
But for the 2014 edition the old Flash game has ported to an HTML5 version, it boasts a larger interface, additional keys and functionality. And being flung into the era of social media, the game itself also issues tweets based on the actions of users playing it (if they are signed in).
And the gameplay is, apparently, just as fiendish. There’s a brilliantly geeky warning on the new webpage, coldly stating that, “The game will kill you frequently. It’s a bit mean like that.” Saving as you go is advised.
Richard Harris, quoted from douglasadams.com, explains the genus of the original HGG game, which game out the same year as another text-based classic (at least in my school), L: A Mathemagical Adventure.
“When Steve Meretzky of Infocom got together with Douglas Adams to create a game based around the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the result was never going to be less than interesting and more than likely insane,” Harris writes. “So it proved – the Hitchhiker’s Guide adventure game was one of the best-selling games of its era, selling some 350,000 copies. In 1984.”
Original screengrab from the first HHGG game. From gameinformer.com
“Then graphics games came along and the computer using portion of the human race forgot all about 500,000 years of language evolution and went straight back to the electronic equivalent of banging rocks together – the point’n’click game. Infocom and most of its competitors went to the wall – signalling the arrival of the post-literate society.
“But something strange has now happened. The internet has become an integral part of millions of lives. People have learned to type again and are taking an interest in interacting, via their computers, with other people and with content.”
The full history of the game, including Rod Lord, Sean Sollé, Roger Philbrick and Shimon Young’s work on the first online incarnation, can be read here. And when you’ve cleared aside a few hours, play the new version here.
The original radio series of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy from 1978 is currently streaming on the iPlayer.