Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne™ is a video game created by Cornelius Hawthorne. It was a multi-player game whose purpose was to provide a challenge for Pierce to overcome in order to win his inheritance. The study group joins forces with Pierce to conquer the game and must deal with not only with the malevolent avatar of Cornelius but also a competing player with legitimate claims to the Hawthorne fortune. The games first appearance was in the Season Three episode "Digital Estate Planning".
Some time after his father Cornelius Hawthorne's death, Pierce receives a cryptic message from his father's personal assistant and executor of his estate Gilbert Lawson. He was asked to bring seven of his closest friends to Hawthorne Industries to deal with the matter of his inheritance. Pierce brings the study group and is told by Lawson that if he wants his money he and his friends will have to beat a video game designed by his father. After the group agrees they enter 7 of the 8 gaming interface booths. After logging onto the game they are given custom avatars to use and face their first challenge in the form of a group of hippies. They are then officially welcomed to the game by the avatar of Cornelius Hawthorne who belittles his son and encourages the study group to individually compete for the prize.
The group assures Pierce that they won't do as the avatar suggests and that they will assist him in winning the game. Another avatar then appears controlled by Gilbert, who had logged into the game via the vacant eighth booth. He attacks the group killing them all and sending them back to the start of the game. Gilbert does this several times. During one of the confrontations he admits the personal stake he has in winning the inheritance himself as he is the illegitimate son of a union between Cornelius and Pierce's old nanny's hot cousin. He uses his advanced knowledge of the game to beat the study group and Pierce to the final stage. It's there that he encounters the avatar of Cornelius. The program identifies Gilbert and offers him the inheritance only if he signs a legal document that ensures he will never reveal his true relationship to Cornelius.
Gilbert rejects the offer which causes the avatar to attack him. He is saved by the timely arrival of the study group and their new allies. The Cornelius avatar upgrades the challenge and transforms into a giant to deal with them. The alliance manages to weaken him with powerful new weapons they acquired, but the avatar is still strong enough to eliminate most of them. Pierce then arrives riding on top of a large missile and engages in a suicide run that destroys the body of the avatar. With only the head remaining, the Cornelius avatar acknowledges he has been defeated. Pierce and the study group agree to forfeit the game and allow Gilbert to claim the reward, feeling that he earned it for all the years he had to put up with the real Cornelius.
|Back in the early 1980's, Pierce advised his father that he shift his company's focus from moist towelettes to the burgeoning video game industry that was just starting up. Cornelius refused but to spite his son and rub it in how wrong he was to suggest such a thing, decided to secretly create a video game just for him and put Pierce's inheritance on the line. It's assumed Cornelius entrusted his personal assistant Gilbert Lawson to oversee this assignment as he bragged about being privy to the secrets of the game. Chinese programmers labored on the game for thirty years and when it was completed he had them deported back to their homeland. Lawson was to serve as overseer of the game while Pierce and his friends played but instead joined in and used his beta testing knowledge to give him an advantage over the other participants.
A group of warriors are summoned to the kingdom of Hawkthorne™ to take on a quest to recover the fabled "White Diamond of Discipline"™ found in the depths of the dark pit of despair known as The Black Cave™. They can choose to cooperate in this mission or go at it alone but in the end only one of them will be able to claim the ultimate prize: the throne of Hawkthorne™. However, before they can be named the new ruler of the land, a final challenge must be overcome, a ghostly echo of a fearsome opponent whose wrath reaches from beyond the grave...
The game can only be played by eight participants. A linear quest is given to the players and an overworld map displays the various levels and locations which must be cleared to progress. The game play itself is a mixture of 2D side scrolling and RPG elements with a deep customization system installed. Players are able to create powerful personalized tools and weapons from various items they collect. A promotion system allows players to develop and upgrade their character's powers and abilities. Maxing out certain achievements allows players access to further customization tools including creating new audio files or even the making of entirely new NPC characters. Players are seemingly given an infinite amount of lives to complete the quest but are sent back to the start of the game stripped of any equipment or items earned if their life points reach zero.
|Presentation: The game is presented in a side scrolling format with an 8-bit graphic style in keeping with the games released around the time the developers started programming it thirty years ago. A super deformed look is used for both main and background characters giving the game a cartoonish feel. The palette is not as limited as 8-bit as seen by the bright quality and richness of colors to be found in the game. A graphics mode similar to the Super Nintendo's Mode 7 is also present. Audio is high quality with lots of dialogue having been recorded for the game.|
|Hardware: The game is played inside 8 booths containing interlinked PC consoles. A camera attachment snaps a photo of the players which is scanned to create custom avatars based on their likenesses. Headsets are provided for players to communicate with one another and the avatars mouth movements synch when the players speak. An arcade stick and keyboard are given for controlling the avatar and typing specific commands. Weight sensors in the chairs monitor if the players leave before the game's completion; leaving for longer than thirty seconds results in an automatic forfeit.|
|Controls: Avatar movements include the usual running, jumping, ducking, sliding and even digging. Combat is a combination of the platforming staple of jumping onto the heads of opponents and hacking and slashing enemies armed or using standard punches and kicks. Projectile attacks with weapons or magic are also an option. Item drops occur when enemies are defeated leaving either coins or rare items. These can be used to further enhance fighting ability with customized or purchased weapons. Magic and potion making skills are also available as well to augment characters strength and defense although a high rank and skill level is needed to use these abilities effectively.|
Locations in the gameEdit
Characters in the gameEdit
Non Player CharacterEdit
The graphics are evocative of 8 bit classics from various late 80's/early 90's home video game franchises with the Super Mario Brothers and Zelda franchises being the most obvious influences on the game.
Hilda has a menu screen with information on the game containing allusions to various classic video games:
Fanmade "Journey to the Center of HawkthorneEdit
|Not long after the episode aired, a Community fan known as Deferman on the social media news site Reddit created the foundations of a real life version of "Journey to the Center of Hawkthorne". Still currently in development, it faithfully recreates the look and feel of the game as seen on the show and other Reddit users have contributed to it's development as well. The official site for the game along with a download of the latest version can be found here. The Reddit discussion and development forum for the game can be found here. Derferman also created the "missing" end tag that Harmon originally planned for "Digital Estate Planning" which can be downloaded here.
- Dear Science blog, a list of Hilda's video game references
- A Community driven game (article on creation of the fanmade video game version of "Journey to the Center of Hawthorne
- Reddit gives Community game a new life
- Download fanmade version