Classic text-based adventure game “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, based on the hit Douglas Adams book, has been rebuilt by the BBC and given a new lease of life online for anybody to play. The game – first released in 1984 for the Apple II among other computers – was known for being difficult to play and dated to a time before graphics and sound, but still managed to sell around 350,000 copies in its year of launch. Now, thanks to the BBC, its been relaunched online.
In fact, it’s not the first time the game has appeared online. For its 20th anniversary, the original Infocom version was updated by a three person team and built in Flash for the BBC Radio 4 site, winning a BAFTA award in the process.
However, the server it was stored on was due for retirement, and the new servers were incompatible with the Flash version, so the BBC took it back into the labs and worked up an HTML5 build instead. That also gave the team the opportunity to polish up the interface, adding additional keys – including the Altarian Dollar, Flanian Pobble Bead, and the Triganic Pu, where you might normally expect to find “$”, “%”, and “^” – and new functionality.
The game can also now send out Twitter updates, automatically pinging out messages on the 140-character service based on what the player is doing.
Old games saved from the 20th Anniversary Edition – and there are 1/3m of them, apparently – will eventually be brought over to the new game, and there are new features in the pipeline, too. That includes full-screen support for touch-devices like tablets, a new portrait mode, auto-saving of achievements, downloading saved games, and even support for very old browsers.
It’s free to play, but be warned: as the BBC says, “the game will kill you frequently.”