I’ll review EA’s and Universal’s efforts when they hit the shelves; until then, here’s a sampling of the Tolkien games of yore, several of which you can experience via the magic of “emulators,” which turn your flashy PC into videogame consoles and home computers of the ’80s and ’90s.
The Hobbit ^ The first videogame to be authorized by the Tolkien Estate, 1982’s “The Hobbit” is what we old-school gamers call a “text adventure.” The interface is the keyboard, and the player enters simple sentences to tell the game what he wants to do: “RUN AWAY FROM ORC,” “THROW RING INTO RIVER,” “TELL FRODO TO SHAVE HIS FEET, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.” The above link takes you to a Web-based emulator of the Spectrum, a very popular and very primitive British computer, with which you’ll play the game and watch the surrealistic graphics being drawn a few pixels at a time.
The Lord of the Rings: Journey to Rivendell ^ Developed by toy manufacturer Parker Brothers in 1983, this Atari 2600 title was never released: it was just another victim of the Great Videogame Crash of 1983-1984, when the bottom fell out of the gaming industry. (The 1985 release of the Nintendo Entertainment System brought a swift recovery.) Two decades later, the website AtariAge located a playable pre-release version of the game, and very kindly decided to share it with the world. The above link has oodles of background information on the game, along with instructions on how to download an Atari 2600 emulator and the “Rings” ROM.
Get the rest of the feature, including links to more downloads of classic “Lord of the Rings” games in part three of INTERACTIVE MIDDLE-EARTH>>>