Quick links to the three parts of the article

Part One Melbourne House Hobbit Game
Part Two Melbourne House Lord of the Rings Game
Part Three Melbourne House Shadows of Mordor Game

I’ve recently been looking into collectables relating to the Hobbit Computer game released in the UK 40 years ago in 1982 by Melbourne House, it was developed by Beam Software. On its release it was extremely successful and quite groundbreaking in that it had a more intelligent text interface and included graphics, albeit they were only pictures of different locations.

As you investigate more deeply even a single computer game can have quite a lot of interesting collecting depth.

It should be noted that this article is mainly about the Uk release of the game.

So the first thing to note is that the box it comes in is the most boring box of any computer game, ever, it is plain black, no logos, titles, system details, description or images. It did however have the instruction booklet packaged on the outside of the box, which showed all the details, including an image of the dragon Smaug.


When it was originally released it came with a paperback copy of the Hobbit book. I am not sure if the book was always included or if only when first released. It is quite rare to find a packaged copy with book included.


It was released on cassette for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, BBC, Oric 1 and a bit later for the Amstrad CPC and MSX. Due to the limitations of the computer, the BBC cassette version did not include graphics. Interestingly the Oric 1 version mentions Tansoft on the instructions cover.


The Spectrum version was re-released with different details on the cover of the instructions. The Commodore 64 version was also re-released with a faster loading mechanism.


The cassettes were then re-released in plastic cases for all the systems apart from the Oric.


Digging deeper, I have found that there are a few variations in the cassettes themselves for some of the systems with different cassette colours and/or label variations. These are the cassette versions I have identified.

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As well as the cassette versions there was also 2 disk based versions, for the BBC and the Commodore 64. The BBC disk version includes graphics for the first time.


The game featured a lot in the computer games magazines of the time. However Sinclair User March 1983 magazine is the only magazine to feature the game on its cover.


The game was marketed quite extensively with adverts being published in many of the magazines. As well as smaller adds (not listed here) there was a large two page colour advert (published in Popular Computer Weekly 20 - 26th October 1983, Sinclair User September 1983, Sinclair User October 1983, Your Computer September 1983, Your Computer October 1983, Sinclair User November 1983, Home Computer Weekly December 1983, Sinclair User December 1983, Sinclair User January 1984, Your Computer January 1984, Micro Adventurer March 1984 and Popular Computing Weekly July 1984). A modified version on this, with Golden Joystick award details (was published in Popular Computing Weekly March 1984, Computer Answers April 1984 and Your Computer May 1984). There was a one page ‘Step into the Future’ advert (published in Your Computer December 1982, Your Computer January 1983, Sinclair User January 1983 and Sinclair User March 1983). There was a one page ‘Hobbit and Penetrator’ advert (published in Sinclair User April 1983) with a green variant (published in Sinclair User July 1983). And a one page Disk release advert (published in Your Computer April 1985).

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Magazines also published reviews and articles for the game. A lot of these are quite small reviews (and are not listed here), however here are a few of the larger, more collectable ones.

Sinclair User March 1983 has a one page review of the game.


ZX Computing April/May 1983 has a three page review.


TV Gamer April 1984 has a four page review.


Sinclair User August 1983 magazine has a three page map of the game.


Computer Answers May 1984 and Popular Computing Weekly 27th October/3rd November 1983 both have interviews with one of the programmers, Philip Mitchell.


Please note that these are the magazine details I have identified, there may be more.

The game was so successful that one of the first ever Game Guide Books was produced for it. An unofficial guide called Playing the Hobbit was written by David Elkan and published on a small scale by Templesoft. Melbourne house liked it and published it officially themselves as The Guide to Playing the Hobbit. The guide was re-issued with endorsements added to the front and back covers.


There were reviews for the guide in the magazines Crash issue 4 and Micro Adventurer June 1984.


The only other collectable I have found relating to the game is a large promotional pin badge with the logo “I can’t kick the hobbit”.


The game was also released with Melbourne Houses other Tolkien games, Lord of the Rings and Shadows of Mordor, in a Tolkien Trilogy boxed set. This was released for the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad (with an Amstrad disk version also available).


The game was also released in the US a few years later by Addison-Wesely. It was only released on disk in the US for the Commodore 64, PC, Apple II and Mac. The original release packaging was white and featured Tolkien own The Mountain Page image (which was also the image on the cover of the first US Silmarillion book) and also included a copy of the Hobbit book.


The re-release packaging was red and featured artist Michael Hague’s Smaug the Magnificent image, I believe it did not include a copy of the book.


There was also a promotional pin badge produced.


I do not have any details of US magazines featuring the game.

If anyone has any other details on this game then please let me know.