Interplay, whi did you do this?
Let me first say that I do rather like this game. In fact I own it. But I understand and acknowledge its flaws.
One of these flaws is the gameplay, which does not, contrary to the box description, faithfully follow the story of the book on which it's based. Though you do indeed play as Frodo Baggins the Hobbit, and though you are indeed on a quest to keep the One Ring out of the hands of the servants of the Dark Lord Sauron, you go about it in an unnecesarily complicated and boring way.
The game consists of nothing except a long series of fetch quests in which you recover lost trinkets for non player characters. These trinkets, for some unknown reason, always wind up in the game's dungeons, every one of which is huge and complicated, meaning that unless you're good at mapping you're certain to get lost.
The other major flaw with the gameplay is that to enter the two final areas of the game you have to find a series of items and are never told you need them practically until the moment you have to use them, meaning that if you didn't explore each dungeon carefully enough you could basically break the game.
But perhaps the most criticized aspect of the game is a twofold one. You have a party of eight characters by the end of the game. This would be fine if, as in games like Secret of Mana, you could switch between controlling any one of these characters at will and even have a degree of control over the ones you weren't actually controlling at any given moment. Unfortunately this isn't the case here, meaning it's virtually impossible to control the rest of your party. You can hold the R button to exercise a tiny degree of control, but generally speaking it's not enough to make it worthhwhile. The character AI is horrible, meaning that your other party members are just as likely as not to walk right into enemy attacks and get themselves hurt or killed or, worse, stuck in bits of the scenery, meaning they can't move and so you end up leaving them behind. And once a character dies they're gone for good. Fortunately if a character wanders off the screen with you they can't be harmed, but then you still have to track them down.
Then there's the fact that every character can have a max attack and defense of 99. This would be fine if it weren't for the fact tat equipping an item that would boost those stats above tat maximum would cause the stat to reset to the minimum, meaning that a character could suddenly become remarkably weaker. This means that the best sword in the game, is unusable.
All this is made even more unnecessarily complicated by the fact that the game uses a password system which is not only needlessly complicated in itself but rife with the potential for glitching. Wy they couldn't have used a battery-backed save system which is more traditional for this style of game I'll never know.
The sound effects are ok but uninspiring. There's the standard grunt when your characters take damage and a cry of agony for when they die. Beyod that there's nothing really great. They're serviceable but nothing to write home about.
The same can't be said of the music. This is one area they did get right in my opinion. The music isn't particularly varied but it's worthy of Tolkien, from the magnificent intro theme which starts out slo and mysterious and then gets upbeat and adventurous, to the peaceful town theme. My favorite is the outdoor dungeon theme. The music itself is excellent but the wind effect they added only makes it even better. The only slightly strange theme is that for the final dungeon of the game. That's the only theme I didn't get into right away.
In short I recommend at least trying this game if only for the incredible soundtrack. Beyond that you're most likely going to be in for a great deal of frustration.
Reviewed by: Bryan Peterson from Twin Falls on 10/19/2011