The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

Review by Elizabeth Henges (gaiages)

Boy, did I make a lot of mistakes in my childhood when it came to game choices.  Back in the day, I had a Game Boy Advance, and was just SO excited about it.  Forget that PS1 and N64 I had lying around--according to me, all the quality games were on the handheld.  That said, even I could not stomach some of the portable's offerings:  Games like Pinobee and Klonoa: Dream Champ Tournament made me upset, and my utter hatred of Lufia: Ruins of Lore was so intense I was wary of the entire series for years.  But this game is probably the single most terrible game I've ever (unwittingly) played.  This game was so bad that my brain hid away the mere memory of this game away from my fragile psyche, only to be brought back recently to haunt me.

And that game is The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

A little background information about this thankfully forgotten game before I get into it... Back when the Lord of the Rings movies were being made and were of course hugely popular, EA created The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, a tie-in game to the movie.  The game was a big success, and even got people to thinking that not every movie tie-in game had to be terrible.  Obviously, EA created another LOTR game in time for the third movie, everyone was happy, and peace was restored to Middle-Earth.

However, there's a glaring flaw: What about the first movie?  Obviously it was too late for a movie tie-in... so a couple other companies decided to jump on the opportunity to make a Fellowship of the Ring game.  There were console versions of this game as well, but the Game Boy Advance version was very different, and developed by Pocket Studios, also known for their efforts in the GBA Incredible Hulk game and Army Men: Operation Green.  Yeah, these aren't AAA developers here.  Oh, and the game in question was based off Tolkien's original work as opposed to the movie license, so that's a thing.

Okay, so the game itself... is a terrible, terrible mess.  Anyone that's played the game for more than ten minutes will all tell you the same thing:  Fellowship of the Ring plays INCREDIBLY slowly.  It's a turn based RPG, which is by nature a little slow, but this game takes it to a whole new level.  Watching an enemy sluggishly walk over, lazily smack your ally, and then move back to their position is painful to watch just for a battle.  This makes you want to avoid battles at all costs, since you can in fact see the enemies on the field... but due to GBA design magic, they're pretty darn hard to avoid.

This alone would be enough to scare away a lesser gamer, but not I... well, at least not the younger, more foolhardy me.  I actually managed to get very far in this title, though I never was able to beat it.  Why didn't I just finish the job, you may ask?  Well, the game was terribly glitchy.  Some glitches worked to your advantage--being a 'I need a strategy guide for everything' kid, the official guide itself told me of an incredibly easy trick to get infinite money given that you had a cart with the 'right glitch', like I did.  But with the good glitches come the bad ones, too.  Near the end, in what I believe was the final dungeon, I ran across a terrible glitch that wouldn't let me exit the room.  The solution, according to the guide (as a sidenote, I commend the unfortunate Prima writer that had to write a guide for the game)?  Well, you're just screwed.  Sorry, you got a bad game, you're stuck there forever and every time you loaded it up it'd be the same.

So basically, after all those hours of gruelingly slow battles with character imbalances (look, I know the hobbits are weak, but come on guys), dealing with a subpar and glitchy experience, I finally called it quits on The Fellowship of the Ring.  Oh, and I didn't remember a lick about the story, but the Wikipedia page mentioned something about Frodo selling Bag End, so obviously they got a few things wrong in that department, too.

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring for the Game Boy Advance... a game few probably even knew about.  For the few that do know about this godforsaken title, though, know that you weren't the only one that suffered:  I did, as well.  There are some pretty terrible games out there, but it's the ones that hint at being decent that really are the worst.

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