The BBC have announced that, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy computer game, they will be releasing a new and updated edition of the cult interactive fiction.
Based on Douglas Adams’ radio series and book of the same name, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy text adventure was created in 1984 by Adams himself alongside Infocom designer Steve Metetsky. It stars hapless Englishman Arthur Dent who wakes up one morning to find his home is about to be destroyed whilst being dragged off to the pub by his curiously named friend Ford Prefect. Naturally, one thing leads to another and he ends up on an infinitely improbable spaceship, without any tea and as an unwilling participant in a pan-galactic search for the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. The game is one of the most fondly remembered of the Infocom adventures (along with Zork), and is often noted for it’s sheer difficulty and deviously intelligent puzzle design.
The 2004 20th Anniversary edition (which still lives happily in the mothballed expanses of the former BBC website) took the original text and gameplay of the Infocom release and added a series of static images depicting the game’s various locations and inventory items which were crowd-sourced from talented Hitchhikers’ Guide fans via an online competition. This edition won a BAFTA for ‘Best Online Entertainment’, and is available as two inter-compatible versions, each containing graphics from different artists.
Whilst the BBC has not said who will be providing the artistry for the 30th Anniversary edition, we do know that some of the bells and whistles of modern browser gaming have been added, including social network integration, achievements and ‘high definition’ graphics, and also that it will be compatible with modern mobile phones. To accompany the new release, BBC Radio 4 extra will be re-airing the first two series of the radio series which were first broadcast in 1978 and haven’t been repeated since the creation of the third, fourth and fifth series back in 2004.
The 30th Anniversary Edition is due to launch on Saturday 8th March and will be accessible for free via the BBC Radio 4 Extra website.