The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is the
brainchild of Douglas Adams. It started life in 1978 as a BBC radio
series and quickly gained a cult following. From this grew four
books, two records, three stage productions, a television series,
the promise of a feature length movie and finally, an Adventure from
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (hereafter
referred to as HGG) is set in a very high-tech galaxy with lots of
computers, spaceships, robots and other technological marvels.
Strange as it may seem, Adams had never even touched a computer when
he originally wrote the radio series. His first encounter with a
computer was about three years ago. Now he loves them!
After discovering computers, Adams also discovered
Adventures and took a particular liking to Infocom's unique style. I
believe he approached Infocom and suggested a collaboration to bring
HGG to the computer. Infocom normally does all their work "in
house", but this particular collaboration must have appealed to
their warped sense of humour. So Douglas Adams teamed up with Steve
Meretzky (author of Planetfall and Sorcerer) to bring us yet another
When HGG was released, it became one of the most
reviewed and raved about Adventures around. If you believed
everything that was said in the reviews without actually playing the
game yourself, you would quickly surmise that this is the greatest
Adventure of all time! As most people (including myself) are HGG
fans, then that's exactly what they would want to hear.
However, after all the hype in the computer press,
HGG turned out to be a big disappointment. It is too contrived, too
linear (at least until the Heart of Gold) and too illogical to be
classed as a good adventure. You spend too much time repeating the
same moves over and over again or waiting for events to happen. It's
also not as humorous as everybody makes out. All in all, it's a
frustratingly slow Adventure which is far too hard for any but the
most experienced player. Let's face it. How many people do you know
who have actually completed the game? And of those who have
completed it, how many did so without any help?
playing tips and strategies
As HGG is such a difficult game, I'll devote the
rest of this column to overall game playing tips and strategies
followed by the usual hints for solving specific problems. I'll try
not to give too much away, but do not read any further unless you
really need help or you are willing to make the game easier than the
Firstly, make sure you read the book (or at least
the first half) before you play the game. This will not spoil the
game. It will simply make you feel more comfortable with the
objects, events and characters in the game and help you solve a
couple of the very early puzzles. (I will often refer to the book in
the following discussion, but listening to the radio series or
records or watching the TV series is an equally valid reference.)
You begin the game playing the part of Arthur Dent.
(But don't assume you'll ALWAYS be playing Arthur Dent. Some very
strange things will happen in this game.) The first thing to do is
throw a little light on the situation, get out of bed and find
something for that rotten hangover. This shouldn't be too difficult,
as the game gently leads you by the hand all the way. The only word
of advice I'll give at this stage is to make sure you collect all
the objects you find throughout the game, as you never know when
you'll need them.
Sooner or later, you'll discover that a large yellow
bulldozer from the local council is about to knock your house down
to make way for a bypass. If you've read the book, you'll know how
to stop the bulldozer – at least temporarily. The following sequence
of events is fairly predictable, as it follows the book almost to
the letter. I tried everything I could think of to wrench myself out
of the predetermined plot, but to no avail. The best advice I can
give is to let the game lead you on until you reach the pub.
When you get to the pub, examine everything. If you
see something that appeals to you, buy it! Don't let your lack of
money be a deterrent. It's just one of the many logical
inconsistencies in the game. Apart from this, let the game lead you
on in the usual manner.
You may want to save the game when you encounter the
small dog. I won't tell you why, but you may appreciate this advice
much, much later in the game if you find that you have to start the
game over again from this point. Shortly after this, the Vogons will
destroy the planet to make way for a hyperspace bypass. (It makes
the demolition of your house seem pretty insignificant doesn't it?)
If you do the things which enable you to survive this event, you
will find yourself in a dark place. This is where you start to
encounter some variations from the book.
The dark is a pretty boring sort of place really.
However, you'd better get used to it because you'll be spending a
lot of time in the dark in this Adventure. You'll probably muddle
your way out of it the first couple of times, but later on you
should try to master it. More on that later. In the meantime, just
remember that you have five senses. I hope you can remember them!
By now, you should be in the Vogon hold, complete
with the infamous babel fish dispenser. Once again, allow the story
to lead you along for a few moves until Ford gives you the
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. When Ford says, "I shouldn't tell
you this, but you'll never finish the game without consulting the
Guide about lots of stuff", you'd better believe him! You can start
by consulting the Guide about the things of immediate concern (like
babel fish and Vogons), but don't waste too much time. The Vogon
Captain has already dispatched a search party to find you.
You're no doubt aware by now that you need a babel
fish. In the book, Ford just pops one in your ear. Unfortunately,
Ford must have forgotten the script in this game, for he is now
sleeping like a log. You'll have to get the babel fish yourself, but
this turns out to be one of the most confounding and humorous
puzzles in the game. If you followed my advice to collect everything
along the way, you shouldn't have too much trouble. Most people get
stuck at the point where the small upper half of the room cleaning
robot appears. The solution is simply to confound it by presenting
it with more than it can clean up in one go!
Sooner or later, you'll find yourself confronted by
the Vogon Captain and (horror of horrors!) some of his poetry. (If
you don't have the babel fish in your ear, then it's useless
proceeding. Restore a previously saved game and try again.) If you
don't like the Captain's poetry, he'll only read one verse, then
have you thrown into space. If you DO like his poetry, then let him
know. You'll still get thrown into space, but at least you'll get to
hear the second verse. (If you don't know why you should be
listening to the second verse, then restore a previously saved game
and try again.) Remember that a verse has four lines, but the order
of the lines and the specific word you require will change from game
You can make use of your new found knowledge while
Ford tries to talk the Vogon guard into a change of career. Then
it's into the airlock...
Once again, you find yourself in the dark. Just keep
your senses about you and DON'T BELIEVE ANYTHING THE COMPUTER TELLS
YOU! Next thing you know, you're on the Heart of Gold where you meet
Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian (a.k.a. Tricia MacMillan) and Marvin the
paranoid android. In one of the major departures from the book,
Ford, Zaphod and Trillian go off to the sauna and leave you
unattended in the most advanced spacecraft in the galaxy! Strange.
Nevertheless, this is a golden opportunity to explore the ship. It's
actually your first chance to do what YOU want to do rather than
what the program wants you to do. And yet, this is the point where
most people get bogged down. Here's a few hints to prevent you
losing interest in the game:
Forget about the screening door for the time
being. The solution to this problem will become obvious towards
the end of the game.
If the computer's lied to you once, it may do so
again. Be persistent!
Examine everything and, most importantly,
consult the Guide about EVERYTHING including all the objects
you've had since the beginning of the game.
Once you have the atomic vector plotter, the spare
Infinite Improbability Drive and a source of Brownian motion (you DO
have all these items don't you?), the fun really begins. Get
everything connected up and working properly, press the switch and
... oh no, not the dark again!
I told you you'd spend a lot of time in the dark! As
it turns out, you'll find yourself in the dark every time you use
the Infinite Improbability Drive. The first time you use it, you'll
probably end up confronting the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.
From then on, it seems to be somewhat random – unless you can find a
better source of Brownian motion! Fortunately, the key to this lies
on Traal, but you'll only find it if you can beat the Bugblatter
Beast. (The Bugblatter Beast is another of the many logical
inconsistencies in the game. It is supposed to be one of the most
stupid creatures in the galaxy, yet it can talk and write and
maintains a database of its victims!)
The game has eight scenarios, each of which is
accessed from the dark. By the time you return from Traal, you will
have visited four of these (i.e. Arthur's village, the Vogon
spaceship, the Heart of Gold and Traal). You can now attempt to
visit the others using the Infinite Improbability Drive, but you
never know where you'll end up unless you've conquered the
randomness factor mentioned above. As a matter of fact, there's one
scenario that you CAN'T visit until you've at least partially solved
this problem. Be prepared to do some experimenting in the dark. Read
the description very carefully and take note of how they differ from
your previous experiences. With a little experimentation, a lot of
persistence and a smattering of divine intervention, you will soon
be able to go anywhere you like at any time.
If you've been following my master plan so far, you
need only visit the four remaining scenarios. (You should also
revisit one of the earlier scenarios, but there's no way on earth
I'll tell you which one!) As though enough strange things haven't
happened so far, you'll now find yourself going back in time and
even changing character! If you've consulted the guide about the
right stuff (what rhymes with stuff?), you'll know what you're
looking for in these scenarios. Finally, keep in mind that no one
with a particle of common sense will finish this game!
Ah, at long last you're back on the Heart of Gold
for the last time. If you've been thorough in your explorations,
you'll have all the items you need to put an ancient legend to the
test. I hope you like gardening. If you do, you'll soon be enjoying
the fruits of your labour, not to mention a strange vision. The tool
in the vision is different from game to game, so I hope you've been
collecting all the tools along the way. There are ten in all. You'll
only need one when the time comes, but if you're missing one, you
can bet it will be the one you need.
Well, after all that, I reckon it's about time to
tackle that screening door! This is easy, yet it's not easy. Get the
All you need now is something to cheer you up to
counteract Marvin's manic depression. Poor old Marvin. He's spent
all game being depressed. Maybe he'd feel better if you gave him
something to do. Or then again, maybe not. Anyway, once you've
solved this last puzzle, you'll find yourself standing on Magrathea,
eagerly looking forward to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Part
If you get stuck on a specific problem, browse
through the accompanying questions until you find the area where
you're stuck. Match the numbers for that question with the words in
the accompanying list to create a hint. (Incidentally, for all you
HGG fans, you'll notice something very special about the number of
hints. I can assure you that it was purely accidental, but I'm
curious as to whether it has any relevance to the question of life,
the universe and everything. Any ideas?)
If you get really desperate, Infocom sells an
Invisiclues hint booklet which is sure to answer all your problems.
This should be available from your local computer store or mail
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy hints
1) Can't stop the bulldozer?
6 29 33 3 60 26 50 70 64
2) Puzzled about the small dog?
22 11 32 64
3) Can't escape the demolition of Earth?
4) Can't get out of the dark?
45 51 31
5) Can't get the atomic vector plotter?
14 65 44 80 54
6) Can't get the babel fish?
45 61 87 5 24
7) Vogon Captain only reads one verse of poetry?
34 29 39 11 64
8) Can't get out of the dark?
6 29 30 64
9) Can't leave the exit to port?
22 38 50 64
10) Don't know what to do with the atomic vector
14 65 44 11
11) Missing a spare Infinite Improbability Drive?
16 79 35
12) Can't go aft from the aft end of the corridor?
13) Still missing a spare Infinite Improbability
48 52 84
14) Can't read the message on the printed circuit
15) Can't find the Nutrimat/Computer Interface?
16 79 35
16) Haven't been off the Heart of Gold yet?
45 71 68 20
17) Can't get past the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of
14 65 44 11
18) Still can't get past the Ravenous Bugblatter
Beast of Traal?
7 11 75 90 11 28 40 73 29
19) Can't control where you end up after using the
Infinite Improbability Drive?
69 19 38 13
20) Can't stop the nuclear missiles?
45 66 77 49
21) Haven't been to the party?
22) Don't know what to do at the party?
23) Still don't know what to do at the party?
14 65 44 10
24) Haven't been to Damogran?
6 29 2 64
25) Can't open the toolbox?
37 1 76
26) Can't avoid smashing the speedboat?
27) Don't know what to do at the dais?
85 4 86 25
28) Having trouble at the dais?
43 51 72
29) Haven't been to the War Chamber?
6 29 30 64
30) Can't escape the maze?
60 67 21
31) Don't know what to do with all the fluff?
14 65 44 11
32) Missing a flowerpot?
16 79 35
33) Haven't encountered the sperm whale?
15 59 47 23 64
34) Still haven't encountered the sperm whale?
35) Can't get the flowerpot?
45 89 8 42
36) Can't get the sprout to grow?
9 22 18 62
37) Can't get past the screening door?
14 65 44 11
38) Still can't get past the screening door?
15 59 47 23 64
39) Can't get no tea?
82 3 81 64
40) Can't survive Marvin's depression?
6 29 74 27 55 23 56 64
41) Can't open the hatch?
15 59 58 64
42) Don't know what tool to use?
16 59 83 17 64
Next issue we return to earth to go dragon hunting
in the best Adventure I've played for a long time. In the meantime,
if you have any queries or suggestions for the column, feel free to
contact me at the address below. Please include a couple of
International Reply Coupons if you expect an answer, as overseas
airmail postage gets to be pretty expensive.