The Hobbit (Melbourne House) Review | Crash - Everygamegoing


The Hobbit
By Melbourne House
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in Crash #5

I stood at the edge of the Black River (not very wide across) and pondered my situation. I had the short strong sword and the rope, courtesy of two dead (literally stone-cold dead) trolls and the valuable golden ring snatched after great effort from under the nose of a now dead Gollum. (It seems pathological killers are well catered for in this game.)

I have been incarcerated in, and escaped from, the notorious Goblin's Dungeon with a little help from my friends. I had met the friendly elf Elrond, and found refuge in Beorn's House. My companions, a singing dwarf and a wandering wizard, had long been left behind. Well armed and supplied, I had crossed mountains, killed goblins and acquired maps.

Familiar with the almost certain fatality encountered by taking some routes, I had now reached an impasse. I could see no way of finding the dreaded dragon, Smaug, or his hoard of treasure.

However, the game's superiority over other adventures available to me, and its unique feature of independently moving characters, persuaded me to persevere, and my capture by a wood elf led me deeper into this complex game. Eventually, by following the plot in the famous book, I found and killed the dragon and laid claim to his treasure. Unfortunately, that is only half the game, as the treasure has to be carried back to a now far-distant starting point.

The most remarkable features of this game strike you very quickly. The high resolution graphic displays promised are delivered in the title page when the game is loaded; Smaug the ferocious dragon belches such realistic flames at you that I almost felt the need for an asbestos shield! Any adventure played for the first few times invariably seems to result in frequent death, and after restarting a few times the second powerful feature becomes apparent: the characters move independently of you, so you are never sure whether your two companions will help you in the next location or whether they will hurriedly deart to leave you in the company of vicious thugs like wargs or goblins who will quite happily decapitate you despite your pleas for mercy.

Yes! I said pleas for mercy because you can communicate with friend or foe depending on your inclination. This device is very helpful in exploiting the abilities of your companions, and much of the game depends on successfully communicating your ideas to allies.

These features, in addition to the fantastic scenario and depth of imagination used in Tolkien's book (whose plot seems tailor-made for conversion into an adventure game), make this program a remarkable achievement. The high-resolution pictures, of which there are about thirty, were drawn with the help of an artist whose eye for colour and detail provoke the atmosphere of Tolkien's book at the various locations: the Bewitched Gloomy Place is dark and forbidding while the Bleak Barren Place is suitably inhospitable.

The Hobbit is accompanied by the original book, which is followed faithfully, and many clues are to be found therein. An instruction booklet is also contained in the package and explains the highly flexible user-friendly language 'Inglish' which the game understands. This, incidentally, was developed by a linguistics expert and allows for longer more complicated sentences without the limit of one objective per sentence. The instruction booklet is well written and the game is easily entered into.

The high-resolution colour displays help your imagination to envisage The Hobbit's world, and the response to instructions is very quick. Quick responses are also required of the player as The Hobbit plays in real time, thus adding to the excitement. I can wholeheartedly recommend this game as it is easy for the novice and provides the veteran with a welcome change from the limited uninspired text-only adventures.

A scoring system (mine is 77.5%) allows for friendly competition. At £14.95 it is very good value.