What I really want is the stand-alone edition I had for ages but then lost. I hate this ubiquitous assumption that we are always online, always connected; I sometimes still find myself in places where I don’t have an Internet connection. Shocking, I know.
Anything I could say would be a spoiler for the game.
I got this in 1984 as a 13-year-old. If I remember correctly, Douglas Adams himself helped design the gameplay and it cost $40, which is really a lot.
I wonder if today’s kids would be so excited about a text-only game. I highly doubt it! (Of course, we had nothing else then, but still…)
My parents had friends whose son was a paraplegic. I watched as he played this and Zork using a ‘sip-and-puff’ control system. Sometimes he would let me type as he told me what to do. This game was such a pain in the ass. Took ages just to escape the house without dying.
The thing I hated about this game is One choice made in the early part of the game would screw you up in the end game. And those choices where not even very logical …stupid sandwich and dog.
At lest the package of infocom had a large friendly metal button to wear…with the words ‘don’t panic’ on the button.
I still have my version for the Atari 800. Damn game took me 7 months to finish. 3 of those months were me screaming NOOOOOOOOO! and having to restart. Loved every second of it.
I couldn’t ever get past the #@%& random Vogon poetry reading and kept getting spaced well before the arrival of the HOG. The cheat file (hitch.sol) I found on a BBS in Milwaukee couldn’t get me past that. Remembering to eat my peanuts and figuring out the junkmail and towel trick for the babelfish also wasted weeks of my life.
Text-only games were still chugging along in the late 1990s/early 2000s, at least among a certain cadre of middle-school-aged nerds. I haven’t seen any recently, but I suspect they’re still out there.
Brasslantern.org is a source of new IF (interactive fiction, the new name for text adventures), or just do a search for “interactive fiction” on your search engine of choice.
Yeah they are, and with tools like Twine gaining popularity there seems to be yet another resurgence going on right now. Twine lends itself more to a Choose Your Own Adventure interactive storytelling structure than the “gamier” experience engendered by Infocom-type natural language parsers, but they’re kissing cousins. Emily Short’s blog is a good window to that scene.
For IF with parsers, the Interactive Fiction Competition still happens each autumn. People have been doing interesting experimental stuff with the medium for years now.
I hated this game as a child. As I recall, practically everything you tried which wasn’t the one correct thing to do at the time resulted in instant death, after which you’d need to start over from the beginning. This sucked all the fun out of it.
Thank you Beanolini!
The game was fun for the time, but had one astounding flaw that no game developer could repeat today without risking user revolt. It allowed players to make decisions that prevented the game from being completed.
Complete dead ends with no way out. Worse, the player was given no indication they had trodden down a dead end. They could play forever without realizing they had stumbled into a locked box. The only path to freedom was a reload.
This was probably a cheap trick to make gameplay longer. Had the game killed players that took a wrong path, or just allowed them to move backwards to a previous state, the game would have been much quicker and smaller.
For anyone that plans to play this for the first time, keep a walkthru handy. The dialog is fun, the game mechanics are exasperating.
That would be a good metaphor for something. hmmmm?
More likely Adams was a whole lot better at comedy than game design.
I’ll just leave “Who Killed Adventure Games?” from the long-defunct Old Man Murray (for you young-'uns: the guys who went on to write for the Portal games) for my view on these type of games.
I played a few different Infocom games growing up. I got a copy of HHGttG when I was in high school and always got stuck on the Heart of Gold. I am very interested in going back to check it out again with a walkthrough.
My father had the game Cutthroats, a deep sea diving game where you’re trying to salvage sunken valuables. I remember sitting on his lap as an elementary school kid “playing” this with him, helping to draw maps, etc. At some time, probably in high school, I eventually solved one branch of the game.
Then I also had a copy of Enchanter and thought it was great, but also got stuck there. Still, it was lots of fun and I am looking forward to some down time one of these days to see if I can find them again. Frustrating game play at times, but warm feelings nonetheless.
The Babelfish dispenser was the part that broke me. By the time I finally figured out the sequence … the machine was out of fish.