Starship Titanic is a first-person adventure game designed by Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the studio The Digital Village. It was published by Simon & Schuster Interactive for the PC in 1998. The game tasks the player with exploring and repairing an enormous interstellar luxury cruise ship. The ship is devoid of passengers, save one antisocial parrot, but the ship's robot crew is still present and available for the player to interact with via a text parser. The game is known for its absurdist humor, similar in nature to other works written by Adams.
The Starship Titanic, the most expensive, advanced, fantastic ship ever built, is the brainchild and masterpiece of the genius Leovinus. On her maiden voyage, she undergoes "Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure" and disappears completely, at least until she suddenly crashes into the player's house on Earth during the opening minutes of the game.
After the player steps aboard, the ship suddenly takes off, trapping the player. The goal of the rest of the game is to find out what is wrong with the ship, fix it, and return safely home to Earth.
The general premise of a "Starship Titanic" plagued by "Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure" is taken from Douglas Adam's novel Life, the Universe and Everything, although the exact details are changed and characters within the game deny any continuity between the two media.
The game is played with a standard point-and-click interface. Menu and inventory functions are controlled via a "Personal Electronic Thing," or PET, a sort of PDA meant to provide an in-universe explanation for the game's user interface.
One major component o f the game is Spookitalk, a custom conversation engine/text parser that the player uses to interact with the various members of the robot crew. NPCs in the game respond to the player's typed conversation with snippets of pre-recorded speech, of which there are over fourteen hours worth.
The Starship Titanic's crew is entirely robotic, and almost entirely useless. The ship's complement includes:
- Marsinta Drewbish - DeskBot
- Sgt. G. 'Nobby' Nobbington-Froat - LiftBot
- Edmund Fentible - DoorBot
- Krage Koyotaaal IV - BellBot
- Fortillian O'Perfluous - BarBot
- D'Astragar 'D'Astragar' D'Astragar - Maitre d'Bot
A companion novel was written by former Monty Python cast member Terry Jones to coincide with the release of the game, and some versions of the game included a sample of the audiobook (on cassette tape) in the box. Titled Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic, it expanded further on the game's basic plot. In an unusual promotional move, the entirety of the novel was provided online for free, although with all the words arranged alphabetically (for the reader's convenience).
In addition to the manual, copies of the game came with a hard-copy in-flight magazine which provided humorous background information in the form of in-universe articles and advertisements. Highly absurdist and deliberately surreal, it is intended only for entertainment, rather than any gameplay benefit.
While working on getting Titania's auditory center, the music room puzzle solution is actually located on the back of the Starship Titanic box.