Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy 30th Anniversary Review

HHGTTGCoverArt
HHGTTGCoverArt
Released 1984
Platform Web Based
Publisher Infocom (now Activision – Website)
Developer Infocom (now Activision – Website)
Homepage (Visit Website)
Players 1
Category Text-based adventure

Did you know 42 is the ASCII code for *?

Many, many years ago when I was a young lad, playing PC adventure games was very different from today.

For a start, they had no real graphics – they were all text based. The early games that had ASCII art were mind-blowing at the time. We also didn’t have the internet. If you couldn’t figure it out, you were stuck. Get lucky, and a hint book would be published or a guide in a magazine, but these were rare.

So sitting on my parents Commodore 64, I spent the better part of a week trying to get out of a particular bedroom. No, not the room where the computer was. It was the bedroom of one Arthur Dent, and the game was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

That’s right. Douglas Adams (already a programmer) and Steve Meretzky transferred the amazing book into a full-blown game. But while it was fan service, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was far from a cash grab.

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This was Commodore 64 basic text adventure - this is how we rolled back then!

From a review point, this is a 35ish-year-old adventure game based on a cult sci-fi story. Gameplay wise, think of it as the Dark Souls of adventure games. There is a reason why it took 10-11 year old me a week to get out of the first room. And that was after it had been out for two years!

The story is one we know already, but as you are guiding Arthur there are plenty of new twists and areas to enjoy. The command interpreter at the time was already fairly advanced as well, and it holds up today. There are no controls to speak of other than typing ‘Walk South’ or ‘Get Toothbrush’.

Bottom line though this is an early text adventure. As fun as it is, it’s not comparable to games made today. Replaying Hitchhiker’s Guide was great for a diversion, but I wouldn’t play it over The Witcher.

Purely from a nostalgia perspective, I am so happy this game exists. The remake is the same text adventure tidied up with a nicer interface and some cute images. Even this ‘upgrade’ is a throwback to the old classic style of early adventure games, and it makes me smile.

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This is as welcoming as the game gets. It does not hold your hand!

I wasn’t joking – even if you know the source material intimately, this is a tough game to finish. The act of getting out of the house stumped younger me for ages. Later in the game, you have one chance to get the Babel Fish – fail, and you cannot win the game.

And that’s just two areas that readers will be familiar with. There are many ways the game will put you in a situation you can’t win. The problem with this is you can play for while without knowing you have already failed. Or it will only kill you. This at least is a quick conclusion to a situation ūüôā

The best way to understand the game though is to play it. And you can anytime – it’s free on the BBC website! I wasn’t aware of this until this week, and I am kicking myself that I have been missing out!

You can log in and have tweets put out on your progress, and you can save your game. The execution is slick, the game remains fun, and it is a window to how we used to game. If you like the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, this will be a great treat for you as well.

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I can now get outside in less than a minute - progress!
JohnHQLD
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy 30th Anniversary

Summary

This article has been light on review. How do you try to get people excited about a 30+ year old text game without spoiling it?

But the game holds up well, and I don’t want to spoil any of it – especially as you can play it right now.¬† For free.¬† And unlike a lot of other browser experiences I have come across, you can fully save and load your progress.¬† This means you can have the full experience, in a nicer format than in the 80s.

If you like adventure games and a challenge, go to the site and bookmark it.  You will enjoy it.

Until next time,

Overall
7/10
7/10

Pros

  • ¬†An old classic that still holds up
  • ¬†Browser game format works well
  • ¬†Comes with hints (unlike on the C64!)
  • ¬†Can see the seeds of todays adventuring standards

Cons

  • ¬†The game is designed to be hard
  • ¬†New gamers may not see the appeal

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption adds new life to an old friend

Hero-U Rogue to Redemption Feature

What’s better than a remaster of an old favourite?¬† A sequel of sorts from the original creators!

When I was growing up, there was really only two software companies that made the best adventure games РSierra On-Line and Lucasarts.  Yes, there where series like Zork from Infocom, and Myst from Broderbund, but while popular these games were essentially a single series.

Sierra and Lucasarts just seemed to keep pumping out quality game after quality game.¬† Lucasarts was generally something different, starting with Maniac Mansion and progressing to classics like Sam and Max, Grim Fandango and Full Throttle.¬† Lucasarts really hit their¬†stride in the early 90’s though.

In the 80’s, Sierra On-Line was well on the road to their peak.¬† Much like Lucasarts had their SCUMM Engine, the Sierra Creative Interpreter tools gave them a fantastic base to make a wide assortment of games.

King’s Quest, Police Quest and Space Quest hold special places in the memories of my generation.¬† Even Leisure Suit Larry games have their own special quirkiness that elevates the games beyond a simple ‘perve’ game.

But for me, there are 2 absolute gems that I still play now and then.¬† Space Quest is one of them.¬† The sci-fi humour just appeals to me too much.¬† The other began life as Hero’s Quest and became Quest for Glory.

Quest for Glory Start Screen
This used to be cutting edge graphics when I was growing up. Yes, graphics improved UP to this level!

These games managed to streamline and parody RPG games of the time and create something truly unique.  While there were a plethora of adventure games at the time, the Quest for Glory games were one of (if not the) first to introduce RPG style character choice and progression to a new audience of players.

The original designers Lori Ann and Corey Cole truly made something special in many ways.¬† Each game in the series of five managed to push the boundaries.¬† Initially, it was introducing the RPG type multi-class system to static adventure games.¬† Your character was able to be transferred throughout the series, giving the player unparalleled¬†investment at the time.¬† Combat in adventure games was actual arcade combat – simplified yes, but it wasn’t a case of simply typing ‘fight monster’ and winning.¬† The introduction of voice acting and ultimately embracing early 3D graphics were some of the other firsts of the series.

Quest for Glory V: Dragon Fire was the last in the series, giving fans closure after many years of amazing gameplay.

It was definitely the game with the most split reception at the time.  Quest for Glory V changed from the old point and click interface Sierra had evolved over time and embraced 3D graphic.

This allowed for some changes to the series such as ‘same screen’ combat.¬† It may seem strange today, but when you entered combat in the original games, the game paused and you travelled to a dedicated screen.¬† In Dragon Fire, you would actually fight in the world without breaking the game.

Dragon Fire also had the most elements of player choice in any Quest for Glory Game to date.¬† There was such a staggering number of ways to handle everything that it was one of the first times I saw ‘no choice’ being presented.¬† While not my favourite in the series, looking back the innovation involved is truly staggering and I have a newfound appreciation for the roadwork it began to pave for games today.

Quest for Glory V Gameplay
Simple now, but amazing for it's day. It's in games like this that modern classics like The Witcher got it's start.

But then in 2012, on this newish thing called Kickstarter, the Coles launched a project to start the adventure anew.  The Quest for Glory may have been completed, but Hero-U: The Rogue to Redemption was just beginning.

The journey was apparently a bit of a rocky one.  Things went well, and software development went as software development does.  In the end, a second Kickstarter was required in 2015 to help finish the game.

But after all the ups and downs, as of July 2018 the game is complete and ready to buy.

This isn’t Quest for Glory remastered.¬† Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is a totally new adventure where the player takes control of Shawn O’Connor, a student at a school for heroes.

I haven’t looked too far into how the story goes, but essentially it seems to be a little Harry Potterish.¬† You attend classes and interact with classmates during the day, and explore the catacombs at night.¬† It seems to be here that you practice your various skills, including combat.

The humour that makes games like Quest for Glory is already evident in the documentation of the game.  The classes from the original Quest for Glory series are all at your disposal Рincluding the Paladin class apparently all from the first.

Hero-U Handbook for Heroes
Hand drawn notes in the school handbook are both hilarious and already have me in mind of The Half Blood Prince

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has the same style point and click style interface, but combat is now turn-based.¬† Apparently,¬†if you sneak as a thief (or I am assuming any class if you take sneak points) combat is even avoidable, but in a role play game I don’t do this too often.¬† Combat increases your¬†health, dexterity and strength just like exercise, and there is something about maxing your stats in games like this that I just can’t pass up.

This looks to be a great start to a new series from the Coles.¬† Yes, that’s right – the start of a new series.¬† There are a number of games planned for the Hero University, and I am hoping that Rogue to Redemption is successful and the Quest for Glory magic can happen again.

Hero-U Handbook Gameplay Shot 2
It may not be cutting edge graphics today, but these screenshots make me feel at home already

It’s unfortunate that Hero-U has come to my attention and released while I am playing Octopath¬†Traveler though.¬† ¬†This is a game dripping with nostalgic charm for me, and I really want to give it a good playthrough with time dedicated to enjoying it.

And again, this got me thinking.  Many players of this game would not know anything of the original Sierra games like Quest for Glory, where I have so many happy memories (and frustrating puzzle solutions!) running through my mind now.

Would watching some of these old adventure games be something you would be interested in seeing?  I am giving serious thought to starting at the original Quest for Glory, and going all the way up to Hero-U.

If this is something you would like to see, let me know if the comments!

Otherwise, if you would like to play Hero-U for yourself, check it out on GoG.com where it is currently on sale for AUD$36.99 or on Steam for USD$34.99.

Until next time,

JohnHQLD