War in Middle Earth ^ Developed in 1988 by Mike Singleton, a near-legendary programmer and designer of strategy videogames, “War in Middle Earth” is a decent title, but somewhat simplistic and very buggy (which was rare for a game in the ’80s). Still, it captures the “flava” of Tolkien quite nicely.
The Lord of the Rings: Volume I ^ The Lord of the Rings: Volume II ^ Developed by Interplay in 1990 and 1991, these straight-up adventure games are unquestionably the best Tolkien-themed games made so far… but when “Volume II” sold poorly, Interplay canceled the development of “Volume III,” thus leaving Tolkien fans with a painful case of “gamus interruptus.” The above links are downloadable demos of the games for MS-DOS; “Volume I” is non-interactive, but “Volume II” is playable.
The Lord of the Rings: Volume I (Videogame Edition) ^ Interplay went back to the Tolkien well in 1994 for a Super NES version of “Volume I,” which was completely redesigned for the videogame world, and which allowed up to five players at once to control members of the Fellowship. (The game was switched from the old-school NES to the Super NES near the end of its development cycle, which explains the primitive graphics and sound.) While “Volume I” is long out of print, Interplay would probably be irked if I pointed you toward an emulated version, but Web search engines are a wonderful thing…
Check out FILMTHREAT.com’s FEATURE ARCHIVES and read more insightful stories, expert analysis, gut-busting satire and caustic commentary!