The plot of the game roughly follows the first book, starting with the destruction of Planet Earth and ending with the gang landing on the "lost" planet of Magrethea.
This has to be done in a very roundabout way, by collecting various tools and several different kinds of pocket fluff (lint). The game also has you assume the roles of other characters in the storyline, leading players to use the "Who am I" command to find out who they are playing as. It also has an in-game version of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, which you can consult for information on numerous topics in the book/game universe.
As with many Infocom titles the game came with "feelies", items that served the duel purpose of immersing the player in the game, as well as a form of copy-protection as there were some puzzles in the game that made you look at the items to get the answer. The "feelies" that came with HHGttG were:
- a "Dont Panic" pin (printed in large, friendly letters, of course)
- a small plastic packet containing "pocket fluff"
- order for the destruction of Arthur Dent's House
- an order for the destruction of the Planet Earth(written in "Vogon")
- a "Microscopic Space Fleet"
- "Peril Sensitive Sunglasses" (an opaque pair of black cardboard sunglasses which you were told to put on to shield yourself from the peril of your final score)
- How Many Times Has This Happened To You? a brochure for The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
- no tea
This game has become infamous for its ferocious difficulty. There were several puzzles in the game that helped it earn this status. One of them was the "Babel Fish Dispenser" puzzle, in which a player had to place objects around a room to cause a Babel Fish to land in his ear. Failure to complete this puzzle did not kill the player, but rendered the game unwinnable due to not having the fish to translate alien languages. Later in the game the player had to unjam a hatch on the starship Heart Of Gold, which required one of the ten tools scattered throughout the game world. If the player did not manage collect all ten, the game was programmed to ask for one of the tools you did not have. Despite the many difficult sections of this game, it was still only listed as "Standard" difficulty by Infocom's rating system.
This classic text adventure game has since been remade as a free flash 20th Anniversary Edition available here.