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The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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Released: 1984

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: PC - DOS

Publisher: Infocom

Developer: Adams / Meretzky

Submitted by: Ian Marks

When my father bought an Amstrad 1512 computer in 1987 to do his tax returns on, there was no question what I wanted to play on it…. a game I’d seen on computers from the Commodore 64 to the Amstrad 6128. It was the only game I wanted for it.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

The Amstrad was my first computer with a disk drive and that meant Infocom games. The fabled writers of wondrous adventure games that mere ZX Spectrum owners could only dream about. I saved up a ton of money and bought the big grey box that contained the 5.25 inch disk. I was shaking as I loaded it into the computer…. Was it worth the wait?

Oh my goodness me, yes! It was almost worth it for the box alone. A badge that said ‘Don’t Panic’, some peril sensitive sunglasses, a microscopic space fleet, some pocket fluff…. Oh it was a joy.

And the game, oh the wonderful game. Infocom and Douglas Adams were geniuses. I’d never seen the like. Exchanges with the computer where it lied about seeing anything. Puzzles that whilst hard were never unfair (except maybe the Babel fish), and the reward when you solved one was just simply pride. It made you feel intelligent. I can still to this day remember the sequence of events that involved a nice cup of tea and the infinite improbability drive.

The other brilliant thing about the game was it didn’t just retell the books. Having read the books helped, but the game offered new ideas from Adams himself, it was at times like having a whole new novel by him. Infocom’s interactive fiction had lived up to its name. It seemed to me that it really was like playing a book.

I did actually finish this game (one of the few I ever did). I went on to save up and buy other Infocom games, Zork, Planetfall, Leather Goddesses. They were great, they were intelligent, they came in big grey boxes. But they never replaced Hitchhikers as one of my favourite adventure games of all time.