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Hobbit, The (19xx)      

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Details (Commodore 64) Supported platforms Artwork and Media
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Country of Release:
Melbourne House
Adventure / Graphical
Philip Mitchell, Gregg Barnett
Audio cassette or 5.25" floppy disk
UK (£14.95 cassette, £17.95 disk)

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Acorn BBC  NR
Amstrad CPC  NR
Commodore 64  NR
Sinclair ZX Spectrum  NR

Same title from other publishers:
Nintendo GameCube

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Added: 23 Mar 2013
"The Hobbit was a good game with a frustrating AI"

The Hobbit is a game released for the Commodore 64 in the mid-80's. The game was a text-based graphic adventure game which replayed the story found in the popular book 'The Hobbit' by J.R.R Tolkien. The game was released in a variety of formats which include tape and disk. The floppy disk version of the game I believe might have had slightly better graphics but I cannot verify this. I know when I picked up the game way back in 1985 it came in a special package, it included the game disks, a quick reference sheet which also had a map of Middle Earth, the instruction manual and finally, the actual book by Tolkien. Melbourne House who I believe published the game did a really nice job of putting this together. Again this is for the North American version of the game, the UK version packaging was very different.

Ok, so lets talk about the actual game itself. It was quite good, especially if you enjoyed Zork type text adventures. The 'Inglish' word parser was pretty good so the frustration level was not that bad compared to other text adventures. The game included graphics of each area you entered along with the appropriate text of what you see. The Commodore 64 version in the later years also included some really good sid music, a bit repetitive at times but excellent nonetheless. There was also one good/bad thing about the game and that is the AI of the creatures and other inhabitants of the world. The good thing that the programmers wished to accomplish was to have the creatures and other characters in the game behave differently every time you play the game, well the idea was good but the programming could have been better if possible. The main reason because it seemed to me that a lot of the characters and creatures in the game acted semi-randomly, they seemed to disappear and re-appear in the game at odd times. For example, trying to get the ring from Gollum or to 'tell' bard to 'shoot' the dragon didn't always work. At times it was funny to see the huge dragon flying down at you, jaws open wide, only to hear Bard say 'No' when your screaming at him to shoot the dragon.

The ending which I only recently was able to accomplish was fair and the story line follows the book pretty accurately. One thing to note is that this is one of the more harder text games out there due to the random character actions in the game. Frustration? Yes. Fun? yesat least at the time, these days you might groan at the graphics and interface. Here is an overall rundown or rating of the game in terms of the year it was released and other games it would be comparable to at that time period:

Graphics (Floppy Disk version): Pretty good painted like graphics. A lot of panoramic views. At the time the graphics would have been considered better than average. 4 out of 5.

Music/Sound (C64 disk version): Very good. The tunes seem to be crafted by a master sidsman. Very catchy but some of them can get old real quick. 4 out of 5.

Gameplay: Here's where the game loses its luster a bit. Very frustrating game play and I'm not talking about the language parser. 2 out of 5.

Overall: The game is enjoyable in a sense, the gameplay isnt too good but the music and graphics make up for it in a small way. 3 out of 5

Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/15/02, Updated 01/15/02
Added: 23 Mar 2013
"Okay, I did it. I gave a game a 10/10..."

I'm not going to try to hide it, I'm a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I've read all the books (which is saying something considering the number of books I read), seen all the movies (even the Bakshi one) and played a good number of the games. I'm going to love any game that has "Lord of the rings" on the box, but there's one that stands above the rest as "greatest Tolkien-based game of all time." That game is The Hobbit Software Adventure by Melbourne House, 1982.

Gameplay: 10/10

Maybe it's because of how advanced the game was for it's time, maybe it's because the text-adventure style fits a book-based game, it really doesn't matter. This game is awesome. It simulates actually BEING the main character better than any other LOTR game. You play as Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit, on a quest to help your dwarf companions reclaim their gold. You are helped (sorta) by Gandalf the Wizard and Thorin the dwarf (the rest of the dwarves are missing, which is a blessing in disguise. When I first played I was mad that only Thorin was there, but it would have been a nightmare to keep track 14 NPCs) who have remarkable AI for 1982. They pretty much do what they want, from moving to obeying you (which can be very frustrating) but they will listen to you if you're on good terms with them.

The replay value is high here (assuming you actually manage to beat the game, in which case you're a far better gamer than I) since enemies and events are more or less randomly placed at the beginning of the game. NPCs will never act the same way twice, so you'll get a different play experience every time.

Control: 10/10

The game has a huge vocabulary, along with a very advanced parser that lets you tell the game to do multiple things at a time. Instead of typing a verb and what you want to do the verb to (Unlock Door, Open door, and Go through door as separate commands) you can simply punch in "Unlock and open the door, then walk through it" and the game understands. "Tell Thorin to do X" won't always get you the result you want, but it makes the game much more realistic when the characters can decide whether or not they want to listen to you (no matter how much smarter you are then them)

Music: N/A

The only thing here is silence. It's a text adventure, give it a break.

Storyline 10/10

Tolkien fans will be pleased to see that the storyline is left completely intact. Just about every important place and character from the book is here, from Elrond to Gollum.

Graphics: 10/10

Deciding that plain text wasn't enough, Melbourne House decided to go the extra mile and add pictures into the game that show the room you're in. While not as good as the pictures from the MS-DOS version of the game, the graphics here manage to look obscenely good for 1982.

r8ing: perfect in every way.

Buy this game no matter what.

Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 02/21/06
Added: 23 Mar 2013
"From the good old days when real gamers didn't mind a 30 minute wait while the game loaded!"

Ah 1985, what a great year. Madonna was ''Getting Into the Groove'', Whitney Houston was ''Saving all her Love'', the threat of imminent nuclear war had us all nailing doors to the wall's at right angles to create fall out shelters and most importantly I briefly acquired a Commodore 64 computer and a stack of games!

Back in the mid-eighties there were no console wars in the UK. Nintendo and Sega were yet to leave a mark on home gaming. No, the real battles were between those who own the British made ZX Spectrum computers and those who had the flashy American Commodore 64. Personally I coveted a rubber keyed Speccy computer like all my friends had, but couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend a summer with a brand new C64. I got it home and hooked it up to the TV, I sifted through the stack of games I had been given. Various titles like ''Aztec Challenge'', ''Summer Games'' and Potty Pigeon'' looked good fun. But one game really caught my eye.

The Hobbit.

The Hobbit was The first text based role playing game to appear on a home system. It stuck closely to the plot of the book with the player taking on the role of Bilbo Baggins in his quest to kill Smaug the dragon and recapture the stolen dwarf gold. All the characters from the book, Gandalf, Elrond, Gollum and Thorin were all there to help/hinder you on your quest.
I had recently read the J.R.R Tolkien book the game was based on and was currently reading the Lord of the Rings (The Hobbit was the prequel to that famous trilogy). So I got very excited and booted the game up.

Of course in those days computer games came on cassette. So booting up a game involved putting it in the computers tape drive and waiting half an hour for it to load. During which time it would probably crash, or overheat and melt the tape or just stop for no reason. But hey in those days that was part of the fun. After about two hours I finally loaded the game and was treated to an awesome picture of Smaug the Evil Dragon I had to defeat. Then the game began.

You are in a comfortable tunnel like hall. To the east there is a round green door.
You see:
The Wooden Chest
Gandalf is carrying a curious map
Gandalf gives the map to you
Thorin says ''Hurry Up''
I do not know the verb ''look at''
Me (consults manual) EXAMINE MAP
There seem to be some symbols but you cannot read them.
Gandalf opens the round green door.
Thorin waits.
I do not know the word ''left''
Me (arrgh) GO EAST
[Sreeen draws a gloomy desolate landscape]
You are in a gloomy empty land with dreary hills ahead. The the west there is around green door.
Visible exits are east, north, northeast. You see:
Gandalf enters
Gandalf says ''Hurry Up''
Thorin enters
Thorn sits down and starts singing about gold.
Me (thanks for the help guys) HIT THORIN
You attack Thorin, but the effort is wasted. His defence is to strong. Thorin attacks you. With one well placed blow Thorin cleaves your skull.
You are dead.
You have mastered 0.25% of this adventure.

Well that was rpgaming in the mid-eighties! Of course in comparison to todays games the graphics are primitive, the sound non-existent and it's awkward to get into at first. However once you had mastered the right commands the game progressed very imaginatively through a reasonably close interpretation of the famous books plotline. Although it is a very simple game there are some lovely touches in it and I remain fond of it still to this day for that reason.

The script is often Pinteresque in its strangeness and quite evocative ''Time passes, Nothing Happens, Day Dawns'' years before Zelda 64, the Hobbit pioneered the idea of Day and Night affecting game scenarios (the troll's clearing is one. Try and pass through in the day and you will die. Come back at night and they have turned to stone).

To beat the game you had to avoid being killed by the trolls, navigate the mountain maze (which I once spent several hours trapped in), find Elronds House, get captured by the goblins, escape, steal the Ring of Invisibility of gollum make your way to Smaugs lair, kill him while invisible and then push off with all his treasure..simple right? Yeah right.

This was in the days before you could just look up a problem on a website like gamefaqs. if you were stuck in a game you stayed stuck until you sorted it out! Many games ended with me stuck in a goblin prison cell with only a dead Warg for company and Thorin singing about his gold!!! In fact the phrase ''Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold'' has entered UK gaming legend as one of the most infuriating things a non-player character has ever done in a game ( and that includes Natalya headbutting bullets in Goldeneye). Especially when you are trapped in the Goblins prison and it is not at all obvious what you should do next. (You have to dig a hole, smash a trapdoor with your sword and then carry Thorin out on your shoulders in case you were wondering!)

I love this game and spent many an hour trying to finish it. In fact I never have finished it! I had to give the Commodore 54 back before i could, Boo. I've finished Final Fantasy's 6-9, Resident Evil 2 and Zelda 64. But not the Hobbit! having recently reacquired a Commodore and a copy of the game I thought I might have a chance now I am 16 years the wiser. Fat chance, I keep getting frazzled by Smaug and have never mastered more than 75% of the adventure. Maybe one day I'll find Gollum and get the Ring off him, but until then the Hobbit remains the game I never beat.

Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 07/24/01, Updated 07/24/01

Issue 1, May 1985
Added: 19 Mar 2013
Using disks can greatly enhance the potential of a game -- by loading in location descriptions when required, instead of having to keep them all stashed away in valuable memory, a far richer game can be presented.

In the next couple of issues we'll be taking a brief look at some disk-based games to see whether programmers do in fact make good use of the extra possibilities, and which programs you should add to your collection. Even if you don't have a drive, you'll find that some of the games we'll be looking at will really make your mouth water, and in the best cases can give you a good idea of what state-of-the-art adventure has to offer.

First, Melbourne House's new version of The Hobbit, with added locations and improved graphics. The game comes on a double-sided disk -- you load the program side first and then turn over the disk to get the graphics during play. The first thing you'll notice is the music, some of which is really great and adds a good deal of atmosphere to the game. The music changes as you move from location to location and boy!, does it get spooky in the Goblin's Dungeon!

The game features thirty extra locations and many of the descriptions have been greatly enhanced. Add to that the fact that Melbourne House have given the other characters, Thorin in particular, a lot more to say and you have a considerably improved game.

Some of the new additions really do affect the way you have to play, and although the White Wizard has spent a good few hours Hobbiting in the past, he has to admit that this new version has a lot to offer. My own feeling is that £17.95 is a bit too much to pay for the privilege, but if you haven't already got the tape version you might be tempted to fork out your pennies for the satisfaction of owning a truly classic game.

Atmosphere 90%
Interaction 80%
Lasting Interest 80%
Value for Money 75%
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This title was first added on 22nd August 2011
This title was most recently updated on 7th February 2017

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