was the first game released by The Digital Village
plc.), Douglas Adams
' software and internet venture company. It expands upon a one-page aside in Hitchhiker's about an interstellar cruise ship that employed Improbability Physics
to ensure that it could not possibly go wrong, and then on its maiden voyage winked out of existance ... or so it was assumed. In fact, it crashes into your house. The ship had been on autopilot
with only a skeleton crew
of semi-functional robots, heading to another planet to pick up the crew and passengers. Someone had sabotaged the ship's central computer (Titania
), and profited from the insurance.
The game is a Myst-style (or rather, Infocom-style) adventure, with sumptious prerendered graphics. Conversations with the games characters (the robots, and a parrot) are handled via a plain English parser. This works surprisingly well, with the character's responses being spoken (being generated on the fly from thousands of speech fragments, impressively). Later in the game you can even alter the character's moods, which may help or hinder you. In a way, it's like a massively more advanced version of Deadline.
There are few object puzzles (some of which are rather difficult through lack of feedback) in the game, meaning it can be completed very quickly if you don't take much interest in investigating the back story. Douglas Adams appears in the game as himself and as Leovinus, the designer of the ship. Although I can't confirm this, it seems to me that John Cleese voices one of the characters too (the bomb), which isn't too far fetched considering Terry Jones plays the Parrot. There is also a French waiter robot that clearly has the French Taunters somewhere in its ancestry.
Overall, the game works well as eye candy and feels very atmospheric, if somewhat restrictive in what you can actually do. Annoyingly you have to wait several seconds to travel between some locations (via elevators, gondolas and pelerators). Some parts of the game also suffer from Discworld Syndrome, with the game giving you no clue as to what you have to do next. The writing and acting are of course first-class, laugh-out-loud funny in places, and the combination of all these factors make the game fun to play even though it's not particularly deep.
: Hmm, the credits say the bomb is played by Kim Bread, which sounds suspiciously like a pseudonym
to me (Bread? Cheese
On hearing of Douglas Adams's untimely death (12th May, 2001), I dug out Starship Titanic and watched the video clip from the ending. This clip is a greeting from Adams, playing the character Leovinus (the ship's creator). I think it's appropriate:
Good afternoon. My name is Leovinus, you probably know that. I'm sorry about what's happened to you, I'm even more sorry about what's happened to me. You have lost a house, I have lost a life and a dream. You may not care about my life and my dream, well, I don't really care about your house.
Building this ship was my dream and now that dream is over. All I want is the love of a good woman and also a fishing rod. Thank you for restoring Titania. I know she isn't real, well, she's real but she's not really real if you see what I mean. So to be honest I'm more inclined to place long-term faith in the fishing rod.
By the galactic laws of salvage, this ship is now yours. There is nothing like her in the universe. I wish you joy of her. I hope you managed to sort out the bomb. As for me, don't try to look for me, you won't find me. My life's work is done, and I've gone fishing. Goodbye.