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. It was originally for the Commodore 64, but the production team switched to the newer platforms.
The player begins the game as Frodo Baggins, and progressively acquires the remaining members of the fellowship; Sam Gamgee, Peregrin Took, Meriadoc Brandybuck, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and Gandalf (Boromir is strangely absent from the game). 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 contolled 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 book of the trilogy ends significantly later).
Although the game is entitled "Lord of the Rings, Vol. 1", no sequel was ever released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
Based on 24 reviews of the game at GameFAQs.com, 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. 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.