Friday, 4 November 2011

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (GBA)

By request, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring on the Nintendo GBA. I'm guessing it's some kind of rpg, but beyond that I've got no idea what to expect.

Nice tree, not sure about those sprites though... oh shit look at that poor guy's face! Bilbo's really not looking healthy there.

Bilbo has decided to disappear on a permanent vacation and has given everything he owns to his nephew Frodo, including his evil magic ring. And now poor Frodo has to destroy the ring in a volcano to save the world.

Still he got a pretty sweet house out of the deal so it's not all bad.

Poor Sam chose the wrong time to drop by and ended up getting recruited, so I start with a party of two. I guess I should leave and head east then.

That furniture is looking a big ragged. I guess they were in a rush, either that or they just assumed no one would be able to notice on a tiny GBA screen.

I thought that was a table or something, but nope it's a giant gold coin. I would have thought a coin this massive would be incredibly valuable, but apparently it's only worth three bronze coins.

I should search the rest of this place, maybe Frodo's left more cash lying around.

What, to yourself? Or maybe there's a hobbit tradition of giving away dirty spoons you've found lying around on the floor when you leave town.

Whoa, hobbit town is so bright.

Okay if I remember the movie right, Frodo and Sam meet Pippin and Merry on the way to the city, so I should find the way out of town.


Oh cool, I wonder if scarecrows give me experience.

Despite the isometric look it's actually more like a classic Final Fantasy battle system. Each side's characters are rooted to the spot, and take turns in hitting each other or using an item.

The enemy gets the first move, but I'm fighting a stick with some clothes hanging off it, so it all it can do is stand there and intimidate crows.

Now it's my turn though! Okay I've got an evil ring, a sandwich, some silver spoons and some leaves I found lying next to my house. Fuck, I'm just as useless as the scarecrow.

Okay, new plan. I'm going to run away and look for some weapons. I'm just glad I realised I had no attacks before I got into a real fight.


Hey it's Pippin, my third character! No sign of Merry yet though. Or any weapons for that matter.

So really having Pippin around just makes me 50% more useless in a fight, but at least I can carry more stuff now. I should probably save actually.

Uh, and which button do I press to return to the game? Okay fine I'll go back to the menu then load the save game. Whatever, it's not like I was doing anything more interesting.

I can switch between characters at any time by bringing this crappy looking menu, and in fact it seems that I have to if I want to check another character's status or inventory.

I walked into someone's house and gave away my going away spoons, and she repaid my random senseless act of kindness with a stick. Now Frodo has a weapon!

Because of the way the character walks around it actually takes me several passes to manoeuvre him into the right position to talk to people, he doesn't always move where I want him to. In fact he occasionally wanders off in the exact opposite direction.

Oh, a dagger looks more deadly than a stick. Frodo can have this instead. Sorry Sam, you're stuck using the stick instead. It doesn't actually tell me the weapon's damage when purchasing, but I can check afterwards in the inventory. So it'd better be worth my giant golden coin.

Weirdly there's no shop screen, the shop keeper has their items scattered across the ground instead and I have to pick up items to bring up this 'Buy' window.

The scarecrow was no match for my sword and stick! And for my glorious victory I receive... fuck all. Nothing.

Well, it was only a practice battle.

Huh, now I get a level up? It seems almost like I got the experience from proceeding through the story rather than fighting.

Well I'm done with this town now, I'm off to the big city to meet with Gandalf.


A bridge! This means I'm making progress, surely.


Crap, surprise dog fight!

Pippin's down, and Sam's half dead. I'm not sure I'll be walking away from this, and even if I do survive I won't last 2 seconds in the next fight.

Actually that's not really true, these battles play out so damn slowly that it'd take a pack of dogs a while to one hit kill me. On their first turn.

Great, I survived the dogs but now I've got evil folks on horseback after me too! At least I can just hide from these guys. In a cutscene.

Reward for surviving the vicious dog attacks: 0
Reward for sitting through a cutscene: level up!

It seems that fighting battles in this is entirely pointless. The enemies aren't even dropping anything, they just make me use up all my very limited healing items. I can't make money from fights, and shop keepers don't seem to get any extra stock, so I could be in real trouble here.

I tried looking for an inn or at least a bed I could sleep in, but all I find are people asking me to get them stuff, or take things to other people. How the hell would I have any clue where to find this guy anyway? It's not like he gives me directions or a map.

Okay I'm desperate now, so I'm going to backtrack to my house at the start of the game. Maybe I can recover my health in my own bed.


The guy I was supposed to be looking for... was hiding IN MY BEDROOM?

So the game expected me to have found this guy already, remembered his name and where he was, and assumed I'd be willing and eager to backtrack all the way to the very start of the game for no other reason than to get this quest reward.

Well okay the beds don't do shit, but at least now I've got a shiny golden coin to spend on healing sandwiches, so I'm back in the game.


Hey, I've found a normal looking house! I must be making progress.

Maybe this means that I'll get some new background music soon. I hope.

Damn, I'm so close to getting my precious healing sandwich. I can almost taste it.

Okay I'm going to have to sort my inventories out here to make some room. Each character has their own inventory of 2 weapon slots, 3 equipment slots, and 6 misc item slots. To see what each character has on them I apparently have to bring up the painfully slow character select menu, then switch to their character. Then if I want to move items from one character to another I have to select the item I want to move, select 'give', then choose which character to give it to.

Of course I can't tell if they've got enough room to take the object without switching to their character first and seeing what they're holding, and if I'm moving weapons or clothing around then I'd have to switch to their character anyway to equip it. It's a painfully, miserably awkward slow inventory system and I hate it so much.

So yeah it suits this game perfectly.

Well at least I've found a use for this cabbage I've been carrying around with me. Pressure sensitive ferry touchplate... triggered!

Hey it's Merry! And somehow he already knows about the evil ring I'm dragging around in secret. I blame Sam, he's the only possible one that could have leaked this info. Gandalf wouldn't have told anyone and Pippin's been in my sight the whole time.

Sam is not to be trusted.


Oh well that's just fantastic. I finally get my complete hobbit assault team assembled, spend forever arranging their equipment and getting them all weapons and healing items, and then two of them are taken by a tree!

It's not like this is a safe place for me to be either. This forest is filled with evil plants and wild dogs.

Oh no, this is one of those mazes where the exits lead to a different place each time isn't it? Each area is a crossroads, and each direction takes me to another crossroads.

I can't even retrace my steps, it takes me to somewhere different.


I give up. I tried to give the game a fair shot, but this is as much as I can stand. Sorry Pippin, sorry Merry, but you're tree food.

The game so far has been a series of fetch quests broken up by pointless battles. Find the leaves, give them to the guy who makes pipe weed, give the pipe weed to another guy to get a dagger etc. And I had to get the daggers and sandwiches because otherwise I'd have been eaten by dogs, because there isn't much room for strategy beyond 'target the same enemy to kill it faster'. It's just an awkward frustrating game.

And now I'm miserable. Thanks a lot Gandalf.


  1. The Shire isn't kind to adaptations, is it? A hundred pages of meandering around the countryside, getting mushrooms, conducting property deals, and doing other things that aren't LOOK AT, TALK TO or STAB. And the party doesn't get a fighter until Bree. The board game War of the Ring starts in Rivendell. The Battle for Middle-Earth starts in Moria (where Gandalf kills the Balrog).

    You know how I'd adapt the Shire? As a walking simulator. Just a nice, peaceful stroll through the sort of props and buildings we saw in the films, and the landscapes of New Zealand. Tell me about hobbit architecture, game. Point out the crossbeams.

    1. I was thinking something similar while I was playing Alien: Isolation a while back, that I'd like the game better if it was just a tour of the movie sets without the threat of instant death around every smoky corner. What we need is a core walking simulator game with DLC sets for different movies. Maybe they could stick a few of those commentary nodes around too, to reveal behind the scenes info and crossbeam facts.


Semi-Random Game Box