It’s hard to believe, but classic Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy is 30 years old this year. The videogame is, at any rate. To celebrate, BBC Radio 4 Extra will be bringing listeners and online viewers a new, 30th anniversary edition of the game, as well as re-broadcasting both the first and second radio season on radio.
The event will be launched on the 8th of March, a Saturday. Perfect for waking up and discovering our little blue planet is about to be demolished for a hyper-spatial express route. The radio series is a little bit older, coming in at 36 years (also to the day on March 8th), while the game itself was designed in 1984 and stuffed with all sorts of fun things—including what could possibly have been the first virtual guide book in a virtual world.
Back in 2004, Radio 4 Extra launched the 20th edition of the game on their website which you can still play here, but the 30th anniversary edition will now embrace the Answer to Life, The Universe And Everything by including achievements that can then be shared over social media everywhere, including Twitter.
The new edition will also come with high definition graphics and refreshed illustrations. It will also be compatible with tablets and other Internet-enabled devices. If, for some reason you have read this far and have absolutely no clue about why the number 42 is so holy, then know this! Players are Arthur Dent (and his pals Trillian, Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox) just trying to get by as he awakens to discover the Earth as he knows it will end. So he’d better get off it by hitching a ride on a spaceship. He’ll then have to visit other planets, discovering that the Earth is, in the ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy guidebook, considered “mostly harmless”.
If you happen to be counting, the last time BBC Radio 4 Extra played the radio versions of the fabled series for which dolphins left a fishbowl behind and waxed lyrical over was during its 20th anniversary. Since I’ve never actually heard the radio version but only read the novels (and watched the so-so movie with a brilliant morose robot Marvin) the BBC has kindly informed us that “some puzzles are only solvable by players with knowledge of the programmes and story.”
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, BBC Radio 4 Extra, Series 1 & 2, begins Saturday 8th March, 6.00-6.30pm, with an episode a week. Each series is six episodes long.