Play Infocom’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game Online

Play Infocom’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Game Online

I was at the Windycon 42 website yesterday, checking to see if the Guest-of-Honor interview I did with author Christopher Moore has been posted yet (it wasn’t). The theme of the convention is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the website has the friendly words Don’t Panic posted right at the top. As long as I was there I poked around a bit, and I was surprised to find a link for “Infocom Game” in the navigation bar.

Now, I’m a huge fan of Infocom’s text-based computer games. Infocom was one of the most acclaimed computer gaming companies of all time, with classic titles like Zork (1980), Enchanter (1983), Planetfall (1983), and the groundbreaking BattleTech game The Crescent Hawk’s Inception. In 1984, legendary Infocom designer Steve Meretzky teamed with Douglas Adams to create The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, one of the most popular games the company ever produced.

Well, that’s all the enticement I needed. I clicked on the link, and lo and behold, I was transported to the BBC Radio website, where the BBC has posted a complete Java-based port of the 30th Anniversary Edition of Infocom’s classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. You can play right in your browser! And so I did:

Infocom The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This is well worth checking out yourself. Take a step into the past (and then, uh, into the future) and play the computer gaming classic The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy here.

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Bob Byrne

There’s also an app for the ipad that comes with Zork. And from within the app, there’s a slew of the other Infocom games for a small fee per game ($1.99 or something, I think).

Bob Byrne

It doesn’t have Hitchhiker’s or Sherlock, among others, but still, that’s a lotta Infocom fun!

Matt W

It’s worth noting that text adventures didn’t die out with Infocom, they just went independent. There’s a yearly competition (IFComp) that’s been running for more than 20 years, and really excellent works of parser-based interactive fiction have been routinely created during that time, right up through the present, for instance:

http://ifdb.tads.org/viewcomp?id=p6s9uem6td8rfihv

Sarah Avery

Probably the best-known current writer of text adventure/interactive fiction is Andrew Plotkin. He’s released almost all of his works for free here.

Matt W

I’ve played several games written by zarf (at Plotkin self-styles himself online.) He’s been involved in the IF scene since the mid-90s, won the very first IFComp, wrote glulx, an updated version of the Infocom virtual machine that is used by most parser-based games these days, and many other contributions both to software infrastructure and to actual stories.

He recently released Hadean Lands, which was a 4-year project, funded by a $30k Kickstarter. It is one of the best video games, text or not, that I’ve played in years. It costs $5. Slate profiled it here:
http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/bitwise/2015/01/hadean_lands_the_text_only_video_game_shows_how_the_genre_can_be_beautiful.html

I also recommend zarf’s game Spider and Web, which is one of the most clever and subversive games ever written. It’s free and can be played in your browser here:
http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=2xyccw3pe0uovfad

The Short Game podcast recently did an episode with a pretty good overview of IF history from the Infocom days to the present:
http://www.theshortgame.net/31-interactive-fiction/

Sarah Avery

Plotkin and I have been friends since junior high school. I read several of his early story-puzzles, the Praser series. They’re beautiful as literary works, but I never had the puzzle-solving chops to figure them out as games. He started getting really good at his IF stuff when I started grad school, so I’ve kept up with him, but not his text adventures. It’s been wonderful and daunting to watch the friend I met at 13 turn into one of the global greats at something I can barely begin to grok.

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