The Hobbit (Melbourne House) Review | ZX Computing - Everygamegoing

ZX Computing

The Hobbit
By Melbourne House
Spectrum 48K/128K

Published in ZX Computing #30

The Hobbit

When The Hobbit first came out, I was not as amazed as all the reviewers of the time. In fact I disliked the game. I was unimpressed by the "independent" characters (all that "Thorin sits down and sings about gold" rubbish); and I objected to some of the hefty £14.95 (which seemed vastly expensive when compared with an average of £5 per cassette at the time) paying for a book which I, like many other people, already owned. Since then I have become an adventure reviewer and know what makes a good game. The ridiculous hype has died down and I can appreciate the program's good points, which are numerous.

Furthermore, I can review it honestly without being in awe. That said it is deservedly a classic - and the game responsible for introducing so many people to the wonderful world of adventures.

The program has aged remarkably well; its speed and presentation still compare favourable with anything on the market, as does the friendly vocabulary and the responsive, helpful replies, the graphics are variable; some duff, some still good, but none really poor. They tend to improve the further you progress.

The location descriptions are far briefer than I remembered, perhaps too short by today's standards. However, with all the messages and characters wandering around, there remains a reasonable amount of be read.

The game has some lovely - and now classic - puzzles. You haven't lived until you've escaped the Goblin's dungeon! Another admirable feature that is rare even today is that many problems can be solved in a variety of ways, as can the game itself; gaining the treasure is by no means the sole task. This helps add realism to the computer-controlled world and I began to see what everyone was raving about. Character interaction is a vital part of the game, and well handled, though not so mind-boggling these days. What did happen, by the way, to the other twelve dwarves?

In many respects, I prefer this to the first Lord Of The Rings game. The Hobbit has nothing like the same complexity, but is much more enjoyable to play, and I feel captures the atmosphere of the book better (no photographs or heavy metal here!). Then again, The Hobbit is a far less complicated story.

The only real problem is the price. I would have thought past sales would have paid for The Hobbit's development many times over by now; yet at £10 there's virtually nothing more expensive. Considering the book is no longer included, its price has hardly changed. I'm sure some shops have been selling The Hobbit off as old stock for much less, and at a mid-budget price of £5, or as one of Elite's "Classics", this would be a monster hit. As it stands, I would say it's still worth playing, but make your own judgement as to whether it is the best use for your adventuring budget.