J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I is the name of two different video games published by Interplay Productions. It is an adaptation of The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien, being the first volume in The Lord of the Rings.
The game was released in 1990 for the IBM PC (MS-DOS) and the Amiga. It was followed by J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. II: The Two Towers. It was originally for the Commodore 64, but the production team switched to the newer platforms.
The PC game is an RPG wherein the player, after an opening cinematic, takes control of Frodo Baggins just outside of Bag End. From here, the player gradually "recruits" various members of the Fellowship, and while the game can be completed by following the novel for the most part, many side-quests also exist to entertain the player. The game world was quite large and featured a cast of characters from both the text and outside of it; character interaction is carried out through "questioning" other characters by typing keywords in a box. The player can swap whoever leads the "fellowship", equip other party members with a range of weapons and armour, distribute skills among the group, cast spells, and perform various skill-based actions. While following a somewhat linear plot, gameplay is quite open and players can revisit old areas and, potentially, discover new situations and characters, creating a fairly dynamic game world. The game also includes a day/night cycle, in which enemies such as the Nazgûl make more frequent appearance outside of daylight hours, and other enemies receive strength bonuses in the dark.
Departures from the book include new characters and shifts in items to create player "quests"--such as finding the pieces of Andúril scattered across the lands west of Rivendell to reforge Aragorn's sword, whereas in the book Aragorn had all fragments. The most significant change is in the climax, where Frodo and Sam are carried off by a Nazgûl to the tower of Dol Guldur, and the rest of the Fellowship must solicit the help of the Elves of Lothlórien and Radagast the Brown, a wizard, in order to infiltrate the tower and save Frodo before the Witch-king carries him away to Mordor. Strangely enough, events in Lothlórien are actually quite true to the book, including the mirror of Galadriel and a quest to find all the gifts she gives the Fellowship.
|The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I|
Silicon & Synapse (Amiga)
|Mode(s)||Single player Multiplayer|
|Distribution||16 megabit cartridge|
A version of the game, described as "a totally different design and thus a totally different game", was released in 1994.
The player begins the game as Frodo Baggins, and progressively acquires the remaining members of the Fellowship; Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf (Boromir strangely only makes a single brief appearance). With the addition of extra controllers and the SNES Multitap, the game supported more than four players. Players could play as Frodo, Samwise, Pippin, Merry, Gimli, and Aragorn. Using cheats or an emulator, players could also play as a non-combatant Legolas or Gandalf, supporting up to 8 players (although Legolas cannot do anything but move around and take damage). Any characters not controlled by the player(s) are controlled by the computer A.I..
The game progresses through a series of "fetch quests" in which the player must explore vast environments to retrieve items relevant to the game's story. These items are often simple trinkets that have been misplaced by the game's non-player characters (NPCs). Much like the book, the game begins in the Shire, the land of the Hobbits. The game's plot takes the player to various locations from the book, such as the village of Bree, the elven city of Rivendell, and the Mines of Moria. Unlike the book, however, the finale of the game is the fight between the Fellowship and the Balrog creature in the Mines of Moria (the first volume of the book ends significantly later).
Although the game is entitled Lord of the Rings, Vol. I, no sequel was ever released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Computer Gaming World in 1991 liked the game's characters, puzzles, graphics, and soundtrack, but criticized it for not going beyond the source material and, by being the first of a trilogy, forcing players to wait after seeing one third of the story. The magazine concluded that "what it is not, is special enough to carry the Tolkien name", regretting that the author was not alive to collaborate in game design. Another review that year cited some flaws but called the game "probably the best so far of the Tolkien adaptations". The game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #169 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.
The SNES version of the game was poorly received in a 2004 1up.com review, citing poor AI and hours of "lengthy and boring" fetch quests.
The sequel, The Lord of the Rings: Volume II, picks up where Part I left off, but due to poor sales a third installment was never released.
The game was originally packaged with maps of the major dungeons of the game, but due to most used game retailers not requiring such materials as part of a trade-in, most people purchasing the game secondhand had no access to such information.
- Tolkien computer games - The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I
- "A Decade of Blizzard". IGN. 2001-02-01. Retrieved 2008-07-07. "Commodore 64 Battle Chess, Windows Battle Chess, Amiga Battle Chess II, Amiga Lord of the Rings, and Windows Shanghai were some of our early projects."
- Ardai, Charles (1991-04). "One Ring to Rule Them All". Computer Gaming World. p. 24. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- Scorpia (1991-10). "C*R*P*G*S / Computer Role-Playing Game Survey". Computer Gaming World. p. 16. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
- Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (May 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (169): 61–65.
- Sharkey, Scott II (May 9, 2004). "The Lord of the Rings Volume 1 SNES Review". 1up.com. Retrieved 2006-06-08.
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at MobyGames
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at MobyGames (SNES version)
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at IGN
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at GameFAQs
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I (SNES version) at MobyGames
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at GameSpy
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at AllGame
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I at GameSpot