Relive Tolkien's The Hobbit as Bilbo Baggins. A piece of Interactive fiction (with graphics to illustrate locations), you follow the plot of Tolkien's book (before the Lord of the Rings trilogy), starting with an encounter with Gandalf and Thorin.
The implementation is rich enough that you can play entirely without pictures if you wish. Also, gameplay happens in realtime, uncommon for interactive fiction.
The Hobbit - game of all times???
This is just one of the many headlines you could read in various computer magazines all over Europe. It was the game that changed the limits that brought something new and unexpected to the world, it was a kind of game that you either completely loved or hated. Well, the last part is still true, even after all this time.
Those were the days when practically there were no other sort of adventures but the text-based ones and the best you could ask for was good story, good descriptions and interesting puzzles all in one. Not to be too simple to kill the challenge and yet not too illogical to be too difficult. What else could there be?
Well, The Hobbit brought something new. It brought behaviour of the characters. Now you might say that this is not unseen. Characters moved freely in many textual adventures and there were some games where real time was included, so you had to type fast. All this is included here too, although you don't have to be that fast. But that's nothing unseen. What really was unseen is BEHAVIOUR of the characters. This means that each character won't act the same way when you meet him/her. They really behaved differently each time you played. Not so differently, sometimes a so called friend may not be so interested in helping you so you may have to persuade him a little and sometimes the enemy may not attack right away because he has to hurry elsewhere. It's not exactly artificial intelligence, but it manages to make a little unpredictability which was surely not the case in adventures of the era. Actually, it wasn't exactly used in textual adventures after that either. Different characters with their own behaviour - yes, but there wasn't any other game where characters had just a little bit of their own free will as it is the case in this game.
As you probably have guessed, the game is based on the famous book of J.R.R. Tolkien, the predecessor of the much more famous Lord of the Rings. You play the role of Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit that lived happily in his hole until one day his friend Gandalf came with the dwarfs and offered him an adventure. And what an adventure it is - to defeat the mighty dragon and retrieve the treasure of dwarfs. There are no other dwarfs in the game but Thorin. He and Gandalf are your companions in this game and you'll need their assistance to finish it. You can talk to them and other characters whenever you wish (if they are present). Communication may be a little complicated at the start as you need to type something like this: SAY ELROND "READ MAP" - you get the picture. On the other hand this gives you a large amount of possibilities when talking to someone. You can ask them to do various sort of things although you can't expect the same result considering the already explained behaviour.
Naturally, this is not the end of the strange things in this game. Moving through the world is a bit illogical until you get used to it. This sounds crazy but that's the way it is. Illogical means that for example you may go east or north from the certain location you'll end up in the same location. So, this new location is like both north and east of the previous one. Less unthinkable is some set of locations that you move in certain direction and than reach the first one again. And sometimes you'll go far somewhere (in the mountains for example) and you'll move to some new direction and appear somewhere like half of the world away. Still, don't think that the game is a complete mess. Everything is precisely designed, only some parts are designed to confuse you. So you won't be exactly able to reach the end by some strange movement. There are some paths that have to be passed, some of them in particular order and some of them not.
In the original package you had a pretty large documentation notebook (at least for C64 version) explaining how to play the game. Still, you will need a lot of thinking and many attempts at various things in order to beat it. Also, it is unlikely that some solution will ever occur to you unless you've read the book or at least you have a good picture of what is happening. Otherwise, you will really be in need of imagination. This is a very hard game to beat including all the puzzles which are not illogical to someone familiar with the book and including all characters that you need to interact with, both friends and enemies. Luckily, you can save up to 20 positions whenever you want. That will save some bother if you get close to the death.
You may completely love it or hate it, you may stop playing it because it is too hard for you or you may play even more because of all the things you have to do and locations you must pass. But the most of players will agree with one thing no matter if they like it or not: this game is unique!!! It may not be the best text-based adventure ever, but it is surely the most unique one, if you can say it that way. All those unpredictable characters, puzzles, locations, the entire world actually, and all those possibilities, it seems that nothing is left out. Much of this is influenced by the book (story that leads to those locations, puzzles and characters) and the final result is much more than just good. This game is capable of giving you endless hours of sleeplessness until you beat it and it manages to remain interesting even after that. This is not a must, this is a MUST MUST for all lovers of textual adventures, the game capable of outliving all times.
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Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The, Hero's Quest (aka Quest for Glory I), Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Full Throttle, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Hook, Hobbit: The True Story, Hollywood Murders, The
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