Codex Gamicus

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I is the name of two different video games published by Interplay Productions.

Personal computers[]

The game was released in 1990 for the IBM PC (MS-DOS) and the Amiga. It was followed by The Lord of the Rings, Vol. II: The Two Towers.[1] It was originally for the Commodore 64, but the production team switched to the newer platforms.[2]


The PC game is an RPG wherein the player, after an opening cinematic, takes control of Frodo Baggins just outside of Bag End. From here, the player gradually "recruits" various members of the Fellowship, and while the game can be completed by following the novel for the most part, many side-quests also exist to entertain the player. The game world was quite large and featured a cast of characters from both the text and outside of it; character interaction is carried out through "questioning" other characters by typing keywords in a box. The player can swap whoever leads the "fellowship", equip other party members with a range of weapons and armour, distribute skills among the group, cast spells, and perform various skill-based actions. While following a somewhat linear plot, gameplay is quite open and players can revisit old areas and, potentially, discover new situations and characters, creating a fairly dynamic game world. The game also includes a day/night cycle, in which enemies such as the Nazgûl make more frequent appearance outside of daylight hours, and other enemies receive strength bonuses in the dark.

Departures from the book include new characters and shifts in items to create player "quests"—such as finding the pieces of Andúril scattered across the lands west of Rivendell to reforge Aragorn's sword, whereas in the book Aragorn had all fragments. The most significant change is in the climax, where Frodo and Sam are carried off by a Nazgûl to the tower of Dol Guldur, and the rest of the Fellowship must solicit the help of the Elves of Lothlórien and Radagast the Brown, a wizard, in order to infiltrate the tower and save Frodo before the Witch-king carries him away to Mordor. Strangely enough, events in Lothlórien are actually quite true to the book, including the mirror of Galadriel and a quest to find all the gifts she gives the Fellowship.


The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I
Developer(s) Interplay
Silicon & Synapse (Amiga)[3]
Publisher(s) Interplay
Engine Engine Missing
status Status Missing
Release date NA 1994
Genre Role-playing game
Mode(s) Single player
Age rating(s) Ratings Missing
Platform(s) Super NES
Arcade system Arcade System Missing
Media 16 megabit cartridge
Input Inputs Missing
Requirements Requirements Missing
Credits | Soundtrack | Codes | Walkthrough

A version of the game, described as "a totally different design and thus a totally different game",[4] was released in 1994.


The player begins the game as Frodo Baggins, and progressively acquires the remaining members of the Fellowship; Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf (Boromir strangely only makes a single brief appearance). With the addition of extra controllers and the SNES Multitap, the game supported up to four players (provided there were currently four characters in the party). Any characters not controlled by the player(s) are controlled by the computer A.I..

The game progresses through a series of "fetch quests" in which the player must explore vast environments to retrieve items relative to the game's story. These items are often simple trinkets that have been misplaced by the game's non-player characters (NPCs). Much like the book, the game begins in the Shire, the land of the Hobbits. The game's plot takes the player to various locations from the book, such as the village of Bree, the elven city of Rivendell, and the Mines of Moria. Unlike the book, however, the finale of the game is the fight between the Fellowship and the Balrog creature in the Mines of Moria (the first volume of the book ends significantly later).

Although the game is entitled "Lord of the Rings, Vol. I", no sequel was ever released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

File:Lord of the Rings SNES.png



The PC version of the game was well-received with generally favourable reviews, but did not sell well. The game was reviewed in 1991 in Dragon #169 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.[5] The sequel, The Lord of the Rings: Volume II, picks up where Part I left off, but due to poor sales a third installment was never released.

The SNES version of the game was poorly received in a 2004 review, citing poor AI and hours of "lengthy and boring" fetch quests.[6]

Based on 24 reviews of the game at, the game received an average rating of 4.875 out of 10. Many reviewers described the game as "pointless" and "stupid", especially in reference to the game's "fetch quest" structure, and poor A.I. which causes characters to "...frequently wander off and die, or [to] get stuck on the scenery [to be] left behind." The game is also criticized for its expansive environments that are extraordinarily difficult to navigate.[7] The game was originally packaged with maps of the major dungeons of the game, but due to most used game retailers not requiring such materials as part of a trade-in, most people purchasing the game secondhand had no access to such information.


  2. [1]
  3. A Decade of Blizzard. IGN (2001-02-01). Retrieved on 2008-07-07 “Commodore 64 Battle Chess, Windows Battle Chess, Amiga Battle Chess II, Amiga Lord of the Rings, and Windows Shanghai were some of our early projects.”
  5. Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (May 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (169): 61–65. 
  6. Sharkey II, Scott (May 9, 2004). The Lord of the Rings Volume 1 SNES Review. Retrieved on 2006-06-08
  7. Alecto (May 6, 2003). The OTHER Lord of the Rings game. Retrieved on 2008-04-08

External links[]