Mike’s Likes: Starship Titanic
Do you like Douglas Adams, British humor, science fiction, or swearing at robots? If you can say yes to any of these questions, then you’ll love Starship Titanic, Douglas Adam’s delightfully absurd adventure game from the late nineties. Read on to find out more about the game where one of the answers to a puzzle is telling a John Cleese-voiced talking time bomb that “nobodylikes a smartass”.
Yes, this is the second Mike’s Likes in a row in which I’m telling you about an adventure game from the nineties. But this one is not your typical adventure game mostly due to the fact that popular sci-fi/comedy author Douglas Adams was at the helm of this game. If the name of this late and great author doesn’t ring any bells for you, here is his wikipedia page:
If you are a fan of any of his work, be it The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or any of his lesser known projects, you are sure to love Starship Titanic because it oozes Adam’s snarky, ironic comedy.
Starship Titanic plays as a standard point and click adventure game with one key difference: the communication interface. Instead of choosing branching paths of dialog, you are free to type in whatever you like into a text box when talking to characters in the game. The game gets away with having the inevitable misunderstandings that come up due to the relatively limited text recognition software it uses because all the characters you talk to in the game are robots. They are malfunctioning robots, in fact.
You see, you play as some dude (or chick) in your house ironically popping in a copy of Starship Titanic into your computer’s CD-ROM drive when suddenly a spaceship comes crashing through your ceiling and you are whisked away by a robot butler into a giant starship that is only inhabited by semi-broken robots. Your task: figure out what the hell is going on and how to fix it.
This may sound daunting- and it is- this game can be quite frustrating because the answer to the dreaded “what the hell am I supposed to do now?” question is never readily obvious. You could ask the robots but many of them do not know what to do themselves…and some may even lie to you. After all, according to the robots the ship is experiencing “Spontaneous Total Existence Failure”, which sounds kinda serious.
Luckily, if you are stuck you can do amusing things like telling the robots to go f*** themselves. You better believe that they all recognize most curses and they will react accordingly. Different characters react differently to being cursed out and while it is never a real solution to a task, it is a fun little diversion to just test them. In fact, you could have a good time making zero progress in the game and simply spend time exploring what possible reactions robots have and what phrases they recognize. They almost always have something funny to say.
Once you do get some momentum and the game’s true objective becomes apparent, you will find it to be an enjoyable adventure game in a very interesting and entertaining setting. There are multiple endings to the game so there is some replayability to it as well. Although frustrating at times, the game ultimately succeeds in being profoundly memorable and quite funny. And if you ever get stuck- there’s always swearing at the robots…
This was a PC only game back in 1998 so it may be tough to get it to run on a modern machine. I hear it is possible that is could run on Vista but you may need to do some research to make sure it will work for your computer. If you’re into that whole emulator downloading thing then you could do that too. If you consider yourself a Douglas Adams fan, you better play this game, and even if you don’t know that the meaning of life is 42, I’m willing to bet you would still enjoy this quirky masterpiece of retro adventure gaming.