Many moons ago in a far away land, a small band of fellows embarked on a task that no-one but them believed possible. How, the doubters said, could they turn Lord Of The Rings into an adventure game? Night and day they toiled together and at last they triumphed. Now the Grim Reaper considers whether their game really does run rings round other adventures.
Prepare to go on a quest. You will be away a long time and you will face many dangers. You will travel the length and breadth of the land in pursuit of your final goal and many times you will lose both your way and your will to continue. You will meet many tall, dark, not at all handsome strangers and they will kill you. Your quest is as perilous as the one that Frodo the Hobbit embarked on when he travelled with his companions to Mount Doom to destroy the Evil Lord Sauron's ring. It is that quest...
Even if you haven't read Lord Of The Rings you'll know what an enormous book it is. Maybe that's one of the reasons you haven't got round to it yet. And when you consider the limitations of the Speccy's memory you can appreciate what a formidable task Melbourne House has taken on with its new adventure and what an amazing job it's made of it.
Lord Of The Rings, the game, follows the plot of the first book in Tolkien's trilogy, The Fellowship Of The Rings, pretty accurately. Not only that but it also manages to capture the rich atmosphere of the book - not that there can be a real substitute for sitting down and reading it. Luckily, the book comes as pan of the package 'cos if you haven't read it you're in for a pretty tough time trying to crack the adventure. Your best bet is to make a start on the beginner's game on side two of the cassette. There you'll find that the map is slightly different from the main game as it's only meant as an introduction.
Talking of maps, this one's a real Ordnance Survey job but it's well worth taking care over if you want to find your way around. Oh, and don't forget to save the game at strategic positions - you'll find you get killed fairly frequently at the beginning. The main game is split into two parts so you'll have to save the game when you complete the first part if you want to take some of the objects you've collected with you.
Lord Of The Rings is a true adventure - the graphics are only included to jazz it up a bit - the ones in The Hobbit are probably better. No, the big attraction with Lord Of The Rings is it's like the TV Times (or YS? Ed) - there's just so much in it.
You can choose to play the part of any one of the four main characters in the game, Frodo, Sam, Pippin or Merry. You can even be all four if you like though this tends to slow things down somewhat. The command interpreter is one of the most sophisticated I've ever seen on the Speccy. You can almost talk to it in English - Inglish anyway. My only real criticism of the game is that you have to reload the game each time you're killed but then again you can't have everything with a game this size.
All in all, the sophistication of the program and the subject matter combine to make Lord Of The Rings one of the all time great adventures and it deserves to be as successful as The Hobbit.
'You ought to go quietly, and you ought to go soon,' said Gandalf."You are Frodo"Frodo is the keeper of the ring and the man character in the game. He and his friends must prevent the ring from falling into the hands of the evil Lord Sauron otherwise the Kingdom of Middle Earth will be lost to the forces of Darkness forever."You are in a comfortable burrow with a round window and a green door to the east. Near the door is large heavy wooden chest. Against one wall is a kitchen dresser. In the kitchen dresser are a drawer and a cupboard. Screwed to the wall is a noticeboard. Covering the noticeboard is a group of photographs. Pinned over the group of photographs is a not. You can see Sam and Pippin.""All Hobbits had originally lived in holes in the ground, or so they believed and in such dwellings they still felt most at home."The note's from Gandalf the Wizard letting you know that he'll see you in Rivendell - so now you know the direction you're heading in.Sam, Pippin and Merry are all faithful companions of Frodo. If you want you can be any one of these characters or all of them but be warned, it'll slow the game down considerably.">OPEN THE CHEST AND THE DRAWER AND THE CUPBOARD.You open the large heavy wooden chest.In the large heavy wooden chest are a length of strong rope, 3 canvas backpacks.Pippin waits.Sam waits."If you're one of the little people event the smallest of hills can be a cumbersome climb - tell Sam to take the rope as it'll come in useful later."You open the drawer.In the drawer are a map, a deer-skin pouch, an old wooden pipe, a new pipe and a matchbox. In the deer-skin pouch is some pipeweed.Pippin waits.Sam waits.You open the cupboard. In the cupboard are some food and a bottle. In the bottle is some wine.Pippin waits.Sam waits."Government Health Warning - smoking pipeweed can be Hobbit forming.">WEAR BACKPACK, TAKE FOOD.You put on the canvas backpack.Pippin waits.Sam waits.You take the food."Go East Young Hobbit. The map in the book tells you the direction that Rivendell lies. Bear in mind though, that the most direct route is not always the quickest.
FROM MAGGOT'S FARM TO THE BRANDYWINE
To give you some idea of the richness of Lord of the Rings, here's an excerpt from the early stages of the game. The events here take place in just five locations so you can imagine how much more there is to explore. Welcome to the world of The Shire."You are Frodo.Your are in a farmyard containing a barn, sheds and stables. Just off to the north is a neat farmhouse surrounded by a garden.You can go west, north, south and east."Not all hobbits live in burrows. "The Maggots, and Puddifoots of Stock, and most of the inhabitants of the Marsh, were house-dwellers; and his farm was stoutly built of brick and had a high wall all around it."You're never far from Tolkien's book when you're playing Lord Of The Rings. EVen the screen mimics the page layout of a book. You can only read one page at a time but you can see which characters are in the vicinity as their heads appear on the previous 'page'."Pippin enters.Sam enters."Oh yawn - this is the boring bit. Your companions are always just one step behind so you have to hang around waiting for them to catch up after each move."3 wolvish-looking dogs enter""Suddenly as the drew nearer a terrific baying and barking broke out, and a loud voice was heard shouting 'Grip! Fang! Wolf! Come on, lads!""barking ferociously."]Grrm here's a situation that's gonna hound you. One false move and you're going to end up as the dogs' dinner."You wait.Pippin waits.Sam waits.Farmer Maggot enters.Farmer Maggot says "Hello and who might you be?"."Hang about, hang about, hang about. That's right, wait three times and Maggot will make his move and call the dogs off."> SAY FARMER MAGGOT "FRODO".Hobbits have a habit of sticking together so don't be coy - identify yourself and you'll find a friend in Farmer Maggot."You talk to Farmer Maggot.Pippin waits.Sam waits.Farmer Maggot replies "That sounds like a good hobbit name. Come up to the house.".The dogs slink off to the barn.Farmer Maggot goes north.>FOLLOW FARMER MAGGOT.You follow Farmer Maggot.You are in the farmer's kitchen, with a wide fireplace, and plenty of seating. You can see Farmer Maggot, Mrs Maggot and a wooden table."The great thing about the game is that it doesn't dump the atmosphere for the sake of the action. The interior of the Maggots' farmhouse capture perfectly the homeliness of the hobbits' dwellings and the rural setting of the Shire. We are in a world as rich as Tolkien's original."You see a wooden table hewn from solid logs.Take a look at the table at this point and Mrs Maggot may take the hint. No hobbit's going to turn down the chance of a decent meal! And they won't way no to a drink or smoke either."Pippin waits.Sam waits."You look as though a meal would do you good." Says Mrs Maggot as she puts a meal on a wooden table.Farmer Maggot waits.>SAY MRS MAGGOT "THANK YOU"You talk to Mrs Maggot.Pippin waits.Sam waits.""Mrs Maggot replies "Your welcome."Shame the game wasn't proof read but then who are we to go on about others' spilling."Farmer Maggot waits.>EAT.You eat some of the meat.Pippin eats some of the meat.Sam says "Looks very nice that does.""Sam eats some of the meat.Pippin eats some of the meat.Mrs Maggot eats some of the meat.Farmer Maggot eats some of the meat."Yum, tuck in. All this repetition's makes some bits of the game sound like a 'We Learn To Read' books but you'll soon get used to it."The meal is now finished.Farmer Maggot says "Been a few queer fellows about recently. All in black and asking after Baggins.""And now for the bad news. It seems the Black Riders are on to you. Maggot will have put them off the scent for only a short while.""They went up the east road when I said there wen't no Baggins here."Farmer Maggot waits.Farmer Maggot says "Go east and south. Take the ferry and keep off the east road. It's tto dangerous.""Good advice from Maggot - you'll do well to heed it. The Black Riders roam the east-west road in search of the Ring. You should be okay provided you don't stay on this road for too long.">SE.>S.You go south.You are at a wooden landing-stage on the east bank of the Brandywine River. Roads lead to the north and south. On the landing-stage is a large iron winch. On the large iron winch is an iron handle. You can see the ferry. On the ferry is a large iron winch. On the large iron winch is an iron handle."Your destiny - and part two of The Lord Of The Rings - lies across the Brandywine River."Sam was the only member of the party who had not been over the river before. He had a strange feeling as the slow gurgling stream slipped by: his old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front.""You can go north. Other possible exits are east through the yellow door.Pippin enters.Sam enters.>E.>WAIT.You go east.You are in a comfortable furnished cottage with round windows. You can see Merry and a table. On the table is a welcome meal.Possible exits are west through the yellow door and east through the yellow door.Merry waits.Pippin enters.Sam enters.""Merry went to the door: What about supper and beer in the throat?"">N.You go north.You are at the eastern bank. You can see 3 Black Riders mounted on tall black horses.You can go east, west, south and north.Merry enters.Pippin enters.Sam enters."Escaping from the clutches of the Black Riders is the hardest part of the game. Once you've got them breathing down your neck, you're almost always a gonner. If you choose to be more than one character at the beginning of the game, you at least have a chance of saving someone's skin.
Pretty hip these hobbits. Their idea of a comfortable burrow is obviously Italian influenced and ultra modern. What's that? You think it could be that the graphics are a bit on the blocky side and nowhere near as atmospheric as the text. Well, p'raps you're right...