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Radioheads and readers smitten with Douglas Adams' merry sci-fi universe of galactic hitchhikers and holistic sleuths need very little explanation. But, for the benefit of newcomers and long-lost friends, Starship Titanic can be described as an interactive adventure, wherein humor — or rather the Adamsian sense of the absurd — is not a feature but the intended approach, the essence and the solution.
Consider the premise: a luxury starliner crashes into "Your Lovely Home," rather destructively bestowing the ship's salvage rights to you the player. Homeless and possibly rich beyond one's wildest dreams, you must then climb aboard the starship before it takes off again on a quest for answers to some very grave matters. Questions such as how the "Ship That Cannot Possibly Go Wrong" came to be wildly careening through the galaxy, where its control components are and whether the ship's robotic crew is malfunctioning or merely programmed with the customer service initiative of a typical utilities company.
The sizeable interior of the starship is a limited 3D space that players move through by walking and taking elevators and pellerators (a horizontal transport). The sole occupants of the cruise ship are bots who appear to have a screw or two loose each, from the bellboy who acts more like a frat boy to the disconsolately amnesiac doorbot. The game proceeds as a series of puzzles that must be solved before you can move on and, like several other interactive adventures, there are no missteps that result in death, nor is there a time limit.
In addition to investigative roaming and toggling, you interact with the game through the acquisition and use of items and "spoken" exchange with the bots. This spoken (typed on the player's part) conversation capability is the title's most touted element aside from Douglas Adams' participation. Christened SpookiTalk, the feature is something of a departure from the conventional dialogue selection method and allows you to pose your own questions.
The controls for all of the actions available to the player are consolidated into a single interface at the bottom of the screen called the PET (Personal Electronic Thing). The PET is organized into five modes: Personal Baggage, Chat-O-Mat, Remote Thingummy, Designer Room Numbers, and Real Life. Aside from the self-explanatory Personal Baggage (i.e., inventory), the PET's various modes provide an interface for spoken interaction with game characters, remote-controlled devices such as elevators, TVs and the item transport system in a given location, room cataloguing (to be used with item transport system), game saving and other practical operations.
In one possible sequence of events, you may use a Chat-O-Mat to summon and speak to bots via SpookiTalk either to make inquiries or requests. Having ascertained a likely place to visit through their grudging replies, a jaunt to one of many significant locations such as the Top of the Well, Bar, and Art Gallery may follow, where a particularly cumbersome item may be discovered and picked up. You would then use the Remote Thingummy to activate the Succ-U-Bus item transport system (which vaguely resembles a dyspeptic and dim-witted monkey), select the destination with the Designer Room Numbers and send the item to another location. Having arrived at that location at some later time, the player may then retrieve that object and drag it over another item in the room to make them interact.
Unlike other walkabout-intensive adventure titles such as Riven, all movement in Starship Titanic must be executed in full as there are no shortcuts to well-frequented locations. In addition, not all of the ship is initially open to you — a consequence of your ignoble Third Class status — and all in all, the puzzle component of the game is heavy on gumshoe work.
The solutions to the actual puzzles consist of hunting down and combining items to achieve a series of major discrete goals such as gaining access to a new area, finding a component of the ship's controls and, ultimately, going home. A given puzzle will likely require the player to use all four in-game modes of the PET and plot-line mysteries are cleared up as the technical issues faced by the errant starship are corrected via your actions. ~ A.S. Kaku, All Game Guide