We here at Mashable are huge Douglas Adams fans. What discerning geek isn’t? So when we learned, via iLounge, that an iOS app based on Adams’s seminal series was in the works, we were as thrilled as a Haggunenon that just shape-shifted into a self-drinking Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster.
Whether that excitement was warranted, however, remains to be seen.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy project was first announced in May by Vancouver-based startup Hothead Games. Back then, we knew as little about it as a tea leaf knows of the East India Company. Some fans speculated that it was a revival of the famously, fiendishly difficult text-based adventure game that Adams wrote in the 1980s. But no, it turns out to be “an authentic experience, allowing fans to feel like they’re holding the device that Douglas Adams described over thirty years ago,” according to the official Hothead announcement. In other words, a novelty app that replicates Guide entries.
The official website for the project doesn’t offer much in the way of information, but the screens of the app should be enough to give a hardcore Hitchhiker‘s fan pause. They have an unfortunate cartoonish look about them, suggesting this app is going to be closer to the Disney movie version made after Adams’s death than the classic BBC version he wrote. And the text underneath that Babel Fish is a giveaway for anyone who can repeat by rote the book’s description of the translating fish: “small, yellow, leech-like, and probably one of the oddest creatures in the universe.” (See the original BBC version below.)
Still, we can’t help feeling Adams himself would crack a smile. He was a huge Apple fan (and owner of one of the first Macintosh computers in the UK) and would no doubt have gone ga-ga for the whole iOS platform. When I had the chance to interview him about a year before his untimely death in 2001, his company The Digital Village was developing plans for a Guide-like device of its own. It would feature content from H2G2, Adams’s proto-Wikipedia site of crowdsourced information that was later sold to the BBC. So it’s nice to see that idea come to some sort of fruition, especially on devices that are more Guide-like than anything else on this mostly harmless planet.