Quentin Heath returns to Middle Earth with the help of some readers and discovers ways of getting nearer his golden goal
I DID NOT realise that the response from The Hobbit article two months ago would be so great. The game has caused so much interest that I have decided to devote this month's column to how readers are coping with this adventure.
First, however, I would like to digress to tell you something which I discovered about the Spectrum when playing this and other machine code games. Most machine code games use a Basic loader program to load code.
Usually if you use LOAD and try to break out of it, the system is designed to crash. If, however, you use MERGE instead of LOAD, the computer will stop after the Basic loader has been entered and will not auto-run the machine code. There are ways to circumvent this, for instance loading machine code straight into the system, but software manufacturers should be warned of the danger.
|'It is better to kill Gollum as soon as you see him. If you do not he may slip through your fingers'|
Back to The Hobbit. One reader, John Hardman of Kent, claims to have finished the adventure. He sent me a copy of the last frame of the game to prove it. The next highest score attained during play so far is 67.5 percent by Dave Newton of Bolton. Lancashire. He says that he found no pitfalls in Beorn's house. I know of five people who have fallen in the shape changer's happy home.
Dr Paul Holmes of Middlesbrough sent a map of part of the game. He has not had much luck with Gollum and the ring and asks what is the answer to the first riddle. It has always been my policy to kill dumb animals in adventures and this is no exception. It is better to kill Gollum as soon as you see him. If you do not he may slip through your fingers or you could be choked by his.
Holmes also wants to know what is the goblin's cache and where it can be found. To find it you will have to be captured and put into the goblins' dungeon. You will find some sand on the floor.
If you DIG you will find a trapdoor. Hobbits are not strong animals, so ask Thorin several times to SMASH or BREAK the trapdoor. When it is broken you will find the cache in a hole beneath it. I am not giving away all the secrets, however, and you will have to decide what to do with it.
In the March issue I stated that several people were having difficulties when they got through the barrels and tried to go through the trap door in the Elven King's cellar. That happened to me and I have now found that unless you have the ring on your finger the program may crash. That means you will have to go through the goblins' tunnels before attempting to get into the barrels and rolling through the trapdoor.
I have found what may be a bug in the program when typing entries into the computer. Reader Hardman, who claims to have finished The Hobbit, warned me about the potential problem. Try typing DO in reply to the program prompt. The program seems to read a variety of responses and put them all on the screen. If you type-in DOW, according to Hardman, your program could crash.
With the help of reader Colin Appleyard I have found the golden key in the Misty Mountains. His instructions are to go north from the Misty Mountains, then north-east, north, south-east, down three times until you are in the misty valley, then east, take the key, up, west, north and you are back on the mountain again.
I have no doubt that The Hobbit will recur in a future article and I would still like to hear from you if you have been playing the game. Next month I shall be looking at Dungeon Master from Crystal.
Hints and tips
Kill Gollum if the ring you find,
A rope is as good as a boat.
If with your sword at the web you hack,
If you have views on any mind games or if you have hints and tips on adventure games, computer-moderated games, chess, or anything along those lines you can contact me. I will also try to answer any questions which you may have.