It’s a Book, it’s a Game, it’s a GAMEBOOK!

Wow, does this bring back memories…

Back when I was a kid, we didn’t have PSPs or DS’s or even mobile phones that could play cool games. Scratch that- we didn’t have mobile phones, period. Back then, RPG’s were played with actual dice, pens and paper, with flesh-and-blood players and a Dungeon Master/Referee/Storyteller. If you were a loner or didn’t know a gang of geeks but wanted to play wild portable adventures, the best way to do it was with a book- an interactive gamebook.

The Choose Your Own Adventure books started the trend of books with readers as heroes, followed by the predictable clones and variants-Which Way, Be An Interplanetary Spy! Escape! and so on… But these were just the first step- then came the books with actual COMBAT. Some needed dice, some coin tosses or even the time of day to decide battles. There were tons of them, but surely the best were some of the first- the Fighting Fantasy books, in particular. These page-driven adventures sent you into realms filled with monsters and mazes, where your choices and luck with the dice decided on your fate. Treasure and fame, or death by fang or fire.

Man, I loved these books- However, one problem I had with them was that I often cheated; it was too much trouble to get dice, keep track of stats and God Forbid- actually WRITE on my book? So more often than not I just read through the adventures without actually playing the fights.

Well, now that all can be rectified as the Fighting Fantasy books are being released on the AppStore for play on the iPhone or iPod Touch. These adapted FF books contain the original text, art and fighting system, but have the wonderful convenience of in-game dice (which you use by shaking your phone! Cool!) and automatic recording of progress, items, stats and stuff… which is AWESOME. You still have to roll the dice yourself for both you and your enemies, and you have to still turn pages by yourself- but well, that’s being this is still half a book, and half a game.

All I can say is that adapting the Fighting Fantasy (and other interactive fiction books) on iPhone is PERFECT. This is certainly not for everyone, but RPG fans, bookies or anyone who loved these books years ago would do well to give these refreshed game lits a try. At present, the AppStore has The first two FF books- the classic Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and Deathtrap Dungeon, available at the reasonable price of $2.99. A bit pricier but chunkier and with arguably better presentation and all-new material is Gamebook Adventures, the first release of which is An Assassin in Orlandes, out for $4.99.

I’m already playing Firetop Mountain, and it’s so far awesome- I think it’s a MUCH better and more faithful adaptation than the DS release. Gonna get Deathtrap Dungeon next.
Wow, I can’t wait for them to release Forest of Doom! Or City of Thieves! Ah, welcome back, great gaming memories of youth. I feel like a kid again.


2 Responses to “It’s a Book, it’s a Game, it’s a GAMEBOOK!”

  1. I remember those. That’s pretty awesome. Do they allow you to “cheat”, by going back to the last page you were on if you die? Otherwise they’d be pretty unplayable.

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