to Game of the Week! Each week there will be a
new featured game on this page. The game may be good,
average or diabolically bad, it really doesn't matter!
Just look at the pics, read the text and enjoy the nostalgia!
:-) Game of the Week! is open to contributions so if you
would like to contribute
a game article for this page you're more than welcome
to! Every article we receive will be considered!
of the Rings
Philip Mitchell et al
text of the present article comes from the review published
in the twelfth issue of the British C64 magazine ZZAP!64
(street date: March 13th, 1986) and the preview published
in the tenth issue.
OF THE RING
early look at Melbourne House's new blockbuster
House are now on the verge of releasing their
long-awaited mega-game, Lord of the Rings.
The game is in the form of a trilogy, and the
first part (Fellowship of the Ring) has
already appeared on a certain home computer that
I shall not mention here.
Just to keep you on your toes, here are some hints as
to what to expect when we review it in full next month.
The White Wizard has been swallowing his pride and playing
the Spectrum version, and although we all know that
the Commodore version will be far superior, I can reveal
some interesting facets of the game . . .
you can choose to play the role of one of four hobbits;
Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry. Frodo carries the Ring
and, for the benefit of those who don't know the story,
the ultimate objective is to destroy this evil token
by hurling it into the depths of Orodruin, the Fire
Mountain, deep in the dark land of Mordor.
the beginning of the game you get the chance to choose
which of the hobbits you wish to control. You can choose
more than one, and from then on you can play the game
using that character by typing 'BECOME PIPPIN' or whatever.
The characters you are not controlling directly are
controlled by the computer -- and believe me, it keeps
them busy! Unfortunately (on the Spectrum, at any rate),
this means that the old CPU has really got its time
cut off, and as a result the pace of the game is very
slow -- almost unacceptably so at times. Let's hope
the 64 version is much improved, in this respect at
format of the display is unusual and very effective.
The display is arranged rather like an open book, with
a page laid flat across most of the screen, on which
graphics come and go, and across which the text scrolls
as you move around and enter commands. The faces of
the four hobbits appear down the edge of the page if
they are present in the same location as yourself --
otherwise they appear down the extreme edge of the screen,
as if they were printed on earlier pages that have already
been overlaid. Unfortunately, time delays occur here
as well -- every time a hobbit enters your location
its image must be erased and redrawn -- all rather tedious.
best thing about the game, however, is the expanded
version of Inglish -- the name Melbourne House
give to their input system. It is certainly streets
ahead of the Hobbit, and considerably more reliable
and easier to use than Sherlock. I reckon that
it's getting very close to Infocom standard and is certainly
most impressive for a cassette-based game.
White Wizard will give you a full-blown account of this
major release in next month's issue. Until then, remember
to brush the hair between your toes!
OF THE RINGS
here! Blow me down with a Balrog, I never thought
I'd see the day. But here I am, sitting at my
trusty 64, watching the Pavloda stripes loading
Melbourne House's latest blockbuster. So
what's it like, then?
Wizards, I have mixed news for you. You may recall that
when I previewed Lord of the Rings I was concerned
by the speed at which the game ran, or rather crawled.
The bad news is that the Commodore version certainly
isn't faster than any of the others, and I'm even inclined
to think that it's a wee bit slower . . .
off in the first location, you have to wait nearly half
a minute while the program first draws a rather uninspiring
picture, then prompts you to hit return before printing
the location description! This isn't necessarily the
worst case either (although location description number
one is particularly long). Another location I encountered
took an astonishing one and three-quarter minutes to
process! In fact, in this last instance, I would suggest
that there is a bug at work somewhere. If you enter
a dark location without light, you may find yourself
in difficulties. You have been warned!
far as the game itself is concerned, I have nothing
but praise, though I have to admit that I have not yet
finished the first part. The program comes in two cassettes
and is accompanied by the book Fellowship of the
Ring (first of the Tolkien trilogy). This
isn't superfluous, as there are a number of occasions
in the game when you need information from the book.
Tolkien fans will obviously applaud the faithfulness
to the original, but I'm not so sure that it's a good
idea. The Hobbit, for example, did not require
you to have any more than a cursory idea of the original,
but in Lord of the Rings you will find that doing
your homework is quite important, especially as far
as names and aliases are concerned.
from the innovations which I mentioned in the preview
(especially the ability to 'become' any one of the four
Hobbies), the other thing I particularly like about
the game is its logical design. Right near the beginning
you are faced with the problem of crossing a river by
ferry, which can only be done by careful use of your
companions. Indeed, all the obstacles I nave yet encountered
have a pleasingly logical solution and don't depend
on obscure magic spells or the right combination of
also like the way time is handled in the game -- with
the exception of the time it takes to work it all out.
For example, when you start the adventure, Merry is
absent and in another location. If you get there in
time, you find him. But if you're late, all you get
is a note telling you how he waited for you, but has
now gone on ahead! It's little touches like these that
make, the game enjoyable despite the occasional annoyance
and the slow pace.
are a large number of locations to explore, many of
which are simply there for the atmosphere. The Wiz approves
of this approach entirely -- I have never been one for
'a puzzle in every place'. I like to be able to do a
bit of aimless wandering on my travels, provided that
there's a reasonable degree of interest in the places
I visit. The other nice thing about the game is that,
depending on timing, there are occasionally different
ways of approaching different puzzles. For example,
if you dilly-dally at the beginning, you have to take
shortcuts later on to avoid the Black Riders, whereas
if you get on quickly you find yourself being able to
take roads that were previously impassable.
characters in the game appear to be far more intelligent
than those in other recent adventures, and are certainly
a far cry from those in The Hobbit. Even so,
they do occasionally make obscure statements when spoken
to. However, you will find that the need to communicate
with your fellows is all-important if you are to get
anywhere in the game.
of the Rings is a large, ambitious game. The blurb
claims over 200 locations and I haven't visited nearly
that many yet (about 100 at the last count). Apart from
the occasional bug (like the dark location mentioned
earlier), the very slow pace, and the need to reload
data from cassette if you QUIT or die, I found myself
becoming more and more involved in Tolkien's world.
I am inclined to think that this is more of a tribute
to Tolkien than to Melbourne House, but nevertheless
I feel this is a game I can safely recommend to the
more wealthy Wizards among us.
If you want a walkthrough, visit
Jacob Gunness' Classic
Adventures Solution Archive or
C64 Adventure Game Solutions Site
later re-release, Fellowship of the Ring, containing
full location graphics, is also worthy of your attention.
This version also removed the character faces and the
'pages' layout, resulting in a much faster and better
Kiminas (26 Apr 2004)
There were no screenshots in the original review.
"Games of the Week!"