The Heart of Gold

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This is a Class A (gold star) article.
The Heart of Gold
Eamon adventure #240
The Heart of Gold intro.png
Author Frank Black
Released June 1997
Revised 22 May 1997
EAG number 240
EDX number 07-03
EDX set The Frank Black Adventures Deluxe
Native format Apple ProDOS

The Heart of Gold is an Eamon adventure by Frank Black released in June 1997, distinctive for its small size (15 rooms), complex puzzles and effects, and complete lack of physical combat. The story features characters and settings from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy science fiction series by Douglas Adams, and draws inspiration from the popular Hitchhiker's Guide text adventure game published by Infocom in 1984, relying on the player to investigate their surroundings and attempt various interactions with characters and objects to progress through the story.

Premise

In Adams's original Hitchhiker's Guide, alien ships demolish Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass and only the alien Ford Prefect and his human friend Arthur Dent escape by secretly teleporting onto one of the craft. Black's Heart of Gold starts similarly, with ships destroying the world of Eamon and Ford escaping at the last moment along with the player's character.

The complete introduction:

Several years ago a stranger named "Ford Prefect" appeared at the Main Hall. He employed himself as an actor and you became friends with him. He seemed like a good chap, if a bit odd. He was known to stare at the sky for long periods of time, claiming to be looking for "flying saucers". This was always taken as a joke and he would laugh with everybody at it and order a round of Double Dragon Blombs.

Then one day a green shape appeared in the sky. A voice boomed out of it saying that planet Eamon was in the way of the new "hyperspace bypass" and was going to promptly be destroyed in 2 minutes. Panic broke out and a mob of brave adventurers ran out to challenge the green "spaceship".

Ford suddenly pulled you aside. "Another ship has appeared!" he said excitedly, "I'm trying to hitch a ride. Don't worry, I'm bringing you with me!" Of course, you have no idea what he is talking about and ignore him.

"I've succeeded!" he suddenly yells with joy. "Prepare to be transported..."

You feel a gut-wrenching sensation and black out. Somewhere off in the distance, you hear the world of Eamon being completely destroyed!

Unlike in Adams's story, the ship that Ford and the adventurer escape on is not one of the Vogon constructor ships but is the titular Heart of Gold, an advanced vessel equipped with a unique form of propulsion known as the Infinite Improbability Drive that can cause extremely unlikely events to occur. The story begins in the ship's baggage compartment.

Walkthrough

Map by Huw Williams, 2021

Note: Never attempt to flee; doing so causes a rip in spacetime that throws you to Ford Prefect's home world of Betelgeuse VII just as it's being destroyed.

Part 1: The Heart of Gold

  • Smell your surroundings and you'll come to your senses in the baggage compartment of the Heart of Gold.
  • Take the corridor south and climb the gangway to the main deck where you'll meet Ford Prefect, Arthur Dent, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian, and ship's computer Eddie.
  • Go north into Ford's quarters and collect his laptop computer and his copy of the Guide.
  • Return to the main deck. Ford won't let you leave if you're carrying any of his belongings, and Zaphod won't let you do anything to the ship's computer, so just wait for Marvin the Paranoid Android to arrive; his glum personality will cause the others to disperse — Ford to his quarters, Arthur to the lounge, and Zaphod and Trillian to the galley.
  • Connect the laptop to Eddie. He'll announce that the interruption has caused two new objects to spontaneously appear in the ship.
  • Go back down to the lower decks and find the items: a pair of peril-sensitive sunglasses in the baggage compartment and a spare improbability drive in the engine room at the south end of the corridor.
  • Return to the main deck and connect the spare drive to Eddie.
  • Go south to the galley and use the Nutri-matic machine to get a hot cup of tea.
  • Go back to the main deck and put the tea (a Brownian motion generator) into the spare drive.
  • Use the spare drive: it will cause the ship to jump, knocking a previously unnoticed toolbox off a shelf and making a panel appear in the wall.
  • Get the toolbox, open it, and take the wrench.
  • Use the wrench on the panel and it will open; inside is a strange device called a "T-Remover". Remove it from the panel.
  • Wait. After some time, Eddie will announce a sudden, critical failure in the ship's main Improbability Drive that can only be solved by someone entering the engine room and unplugging it, an action that will cause them to be displaced randomly in space and time.
  • When you're all gathered outside the engine room, order Marvin to go west and he'll correct the fault. Eddie will later determine that Marvin was transported to the desolate Frogstar World B, beyond all hope of rescue. Zaphod happily orders Eddie to take them to the nearest place the eat and as Eddie complies the ship explodes.

Part 2: Milliways

  • You again begin in darkness; smell your surroundings and you'll discover you're in a luxurious lounge. A green waiter helps you get your bearings and you learn you've all been transported through time to Milliways, the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
  • Go north to the bar area where Ford and Zaphod are enjoying drinks. Get the silver bottle and the Ol' Janx Spirit. Ford says that Hotblack Desiato, front man for the band Disaster Area, is at the restaurant but for tax purposes is spending some time dead.
  • Return to the lounge and wait for a bit. Ford, Zaphod, Arthur, and Trillian soon appear and head south toward the garage, telling you it's time to leave.
  • Before you can follow them, the waiter stops you and insists you must pay your party's bill before leaving. When he asks your name, say "Hotblack Desiato"; the waiter will charge Hotblack's account and let you proceed.
  • Go south to the garage, then east into the all-black ship. Marvin will join you. (Milliways was built on the far-future remains of Frogstar World B where he's been waiting for eons.)
  • The ship takes off on automatic and you realize that it's a stunt ship, programmed to dive into a nearby star. The ship has an emergency teleporter, but one person will need to stay behind to operate it for the others. Once again this is poor Marvin's cue: order him east and he'll teleport you off the ship.

Part 3: Traal and beyond

  • You materialize on the planet Traal in the lair of the Ravenous Buggblatter Beast, a ferocious creature that will devour you if you don't act fast. Now's the time to being out the T-Remover you've been carrying: use it on the beast and it will be transformed in a Buggblaer Beas, a small, harmless creature.
  • A team of zoologists appear, mistakenly stun you thinking you're the Buggblatter Beast, and put you in a zoo.
  • After several days the zoologists realize their mistake and teleport you away to a random location. By chance you and the Buggblaer Beas wind up in a Vogon cell with your friend Ford Prefect.
  • You're taken before the Vogon captain who's preparing to kill you by reading his poetry to you. Quickly pour the contents of the silver bottle ("T-Restorer") onto the beast and it will returning it to its original form; it will kill the captain and crew, then die from having devoured a Vogon.

With the enemies dead, you and Ford free yourselves and use the ship's time travel equipment to journey a few days back in time. Ford then uses the Vogon computer to access the Galactic Hyperspace Planning Council records and rescind the orders for Eamon's demolition, then transports you safely home, promising Eamon will never face demolition again.

Reviews

Tom Zuchowski, reviewing The Heart of Gold in the June 1997 issue of the Eamon Adventurer's Guild Newsletter, gave the adventure a lukewarm rating of 6.5, praising it as a "technical masterpiece" but criticizing its high degree of difficulty. Zuchowski felt that it would be nearly impossible for most players to solve the game's puzzles without the use of the hints Black provided, and even with them found it challenging to complete the adventure. He applauded Black's execution, saying that it worked flawlessly in both 40- and 80-column modes, and recommended the game for "serious puzzle junkies".

Location

As in Adam's original works, the story in Heart of Gold spans vast distances of time and space in the Milky Way Galaxy and moves quickly through numerous settings: Eamon, where the story begins and ends; the Heart of Gold spaceship; Milliways restaurant situated at the end of time on the remains of Frogstar World B; Hotblack Desiato's stunt spaceship; the jungle world of Traal; an interstellar zoo; and the interior of a Vogon spaceship. The adventurer may also briefly visit the doomed world of Betelgeuse VII.

Trivia

  • The Vogon spacecraft that destroys Eamon is green; those in Adams's novel are yellow.
  • Ford carries a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein; like Ford, its protagonist is a being from another world learning to adapt to human society.
  • Ford's laptop connects to an online service named "DJinni", a reference to the real-world GEnie.
  • Trizbort.io uses a map of Infocom's original Hitchhiker's Guide as a sample map.

External links