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The Hobbit

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Released: 1982

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum

Publisher: Melbourne House

Developer: Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler

Submitted by: Ian Marks

I remember first playing this game at a friends house, we spent many hours making Thorin ‘GET INTO CHEST’ and then closing the lid on him. How we laughed. More fun could be had by putting on the Ring you found in the Goblin’s dungeon and then going on an invisible killing spree… Elrond was always the first to get it… smug git.

Once I had successfully copied the game (shhh don’t tell Melbourne House), I began to play it seriously at home, and my goodness it was a difficult game. I well remember trying to get out of the Elves dungeon by climbing in a barrel and being thrown out of the hatch. Timing was everything. Also if memory serves closing the barrel too, otherwise you drowned. My memory grows hazy now but other difficult scenarios included digging sand, standing on people and waiting for daylight. Some solutions were surreal and I’d have got nowhere if it hadn’t been for the marvellous work of Derek Brewster (belated thanks there Derek)

In the Hobbit the big feature was that you could interact with the other characters. If interact was the correct word… be annoyed by is another (if not three words). Thorin was next to useless, unless you needed to stand on his shoulders or listen to his endless singing about gold. Gandalf was obviously senile (or on some Hobbiton weed) as he spent most of his time talking nonsense and taking important items off you to examine them. But I’d never seen anything like it. Characters that moved about by themselves, did things for themselves… it was like proper artificial intelligence of the sort only seen on BBC Micro Live with Fred Harris.

I actually finished the Hobbit eventually, and remember feeling a great sense of pride, but also disappointment because I had wanted it to go on longer. I did however go back to the Hobbit…back for just one more go with the ring and the bow and arrow…. I stopped Thorin singing about gold for good that time……