The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is an interactive fiction computer game based on the seminal comic science fiction series of the same name. It was designed by series creator Douglas Adams and Infocom's Steve Meretzky, and was first released in 1984 for the Apple II, Macintosh, Commodore 64, Amiga, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST and the IBM PC. It is Infocom's fourteenth game.
The game loosely mirrors a portion of the series' plot, beginning with the impending destruction of Arthur Dent's house and subsequent demolition of the Earth by Vogons.
After being rescued from open space by the Heart of Gold and figuring out how to activate the Infinite Improbability Drive, the player is hurled through space and time, assuming the roles of Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian at various intervals. (The question of the player character's identity at any time can be answered by the
WHO AM I command.) For the majority of the game, Arthur Dent is the main player character.
An in-game virtual edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy provides a variety of major and minor characters, locations, and miscellany from the series that can be referenced, if not directly encountered. Topics ranging from Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters to Galaxia Woonbeam can be looked up with the command
CONSULT GUIDE ABOUT (topic).
The ultimate goal of the game is casually mentioned by Zaphod in an offhanded manner: finding the legendary lost planet of Magrathea. While the other characters relax in the ship's sauna, however, Arthur has to jump through a number of hoops to collect a bizarre array of tools and four types of fluff before the Heart of Gold gets anywhere near the planet. The problem of managing this burgeoning inventory is neatly handled by a humorously ill-defined object called "That thing your aunt gave you which you don't know what it is", which has two important attributes: a nearly limitless capacity for holding other objects, and a penchant for showing up in the player's inventory after seemingly being lost.
When the characters finally set foot on Magrathea, the game ends with the never-fulfilled promise of a thrilling sequel.