EA’s Lord of the Rings games from the early-2000s have become certified cult classics, but have you ever wondered why they start with The Two Towers and not Fellowship of the Ring, the first movie in the trilogy?
The answer was revealed in the latest issue of Retro Gamer, which is on sale now (opens in new tab). As our sister publication learned from lead designer Jason Epps, EA’s first Lord of the Rings game was originally going to be based on Fellowship of the Ring, but due to timing constraints, it was changed to blend together the stories of the first two movies in the trilogy, released and marketed alongside The Two Towers in 2002.
Stormfront Studios actually began work on the Lord of the Rings games about a year before the film trilogy premiered with Fellowship of the Ring, but as development progressed, the developers realized they wouldn’t be able to finish the game before the first movie premiered, killing any cross-promotional marketing potential. “We realised early on, we couldn’t come out with the first movie,” Epps explained to Retro Gamer, “so we aimed for release with the second film in the series.”
Since a substantial amount of work had already been done using pre-release material from the first movie in the trilogy, Stormfront and EA decided to include the material based on Fellowship of the Ring but name the game The Two Towers to tie-in with the second movie as it premiered. “Clearly all the material we were going to receive during year one was going to be from the first film. It seemed obvious to take advantage of all that material, so the game became a blend of both,” Epps said.
As if the situation wasn’t confusing enough to folks who picked up The Two Towers game only to start their adventure all the way back at the first movie’s prologue, there was also a game from a completely different developer and publisher titled The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, which was based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel instead of the New Line films. Sheesh, imagine trying to untangle that web in the early days of the internet.
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