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review 2016-03-13 12:41
The Cave of Time - Edward Packard

Just finished reading this book and all the endings and I love love love this book. Wish we still had more gamebooks like this in print. The level of detail and description, and the sense of adventure is really great. Even though I never read it as a kid (I had other CYOA books that I borrowed from the library though) it still feels pretty nostalgic.


I also love that there isn't just one "good" ending (good implying that you get back to your own time). There's quite a few where you make it back to your own time, some with a dinosaur egg, some with an open-ended kind of ending.


Also, there are some where you don't get back to your own time but you nevertheless become successful in a different time. It still counts as a win in my book. I'm giving this 5/5.

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review 2015-05-01 14:42
This time you're on a pilgrimage
Spellbreaker (Fighting Fantasy) - Steve Jackson,Ian Livingstone,Alan Langford

Before I start writing about this particular Fighting Fantasy book I have to mention that I found this really cool blog (called Fight Your Fantasy) where the author plays through each of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks blind (meaning that he has not yet read the book) and plays through the book until he either completes it, or dies, and then posts his adventure as a story on the blog. From the few that I have read (including Spellbreaker) he ends up dying. In fact, from what I can tell, he has yet to successfully complete one adventure, though I guess half the fun of this blog is to follow his escapades which will always end up being fatal.



Anyway, I should probably say a few things about this book. Well, I must say that it was entertaining, though the name of the kingdom (Rumblestone) sounded like it belonged in Disneyworld. However, unlike a Disneyworld adventure, this one is quite brutal. In fact, in the first paragraph you encounter this really, really, powerful demon, and because it is a really, really, powerful demon you have to fight it with a disability, which makes this one of these very few Fighting Fantasy gamebooks where you can die before actually beginning the adventure. However, once you get past that little hurdle (unless of course you cheat, then that demon is going to be no problem whatsoever) you then come across the other really difficult part of the game (and I am not talking about the bad grammar either).



To complete this adventure you need lots and lots of items, and the items that you need are not always that clear. I guess that simply adds to the replayability of it because once you get to a certain point and discover that you needed to collect all of that stuff that you ignored in the market (that is if you even had the gold to buy it) then it means that you can go back to paragraph one and start all over again (and hopefully not get killed by that really, really, powerful demon).



As for the adventure, well, you are on a pilgrimage, because, well, you are that sort of hero, and you meet this really nice guy out on the moors in the middle of a rainstorm. So, deciding that camping in the rainstorm is not good for your health (because you could end up catching a cold – just like I did this week), you make your way to the monastery, and then invite him in with you. However, this really nice guy turns out to be completely the opposite, namely because he kills a monk and then steals this book on demonology to, well, raise a demon from the dead. Of course, since you were the guy that invited him into the monastery the monks expect you to track him down and get the book back.


So, in the end, I must say that despite the bad grammar, and the name that sounded like it came from Walt Disney (and the overweight princess that was travelling to the healing well to see if the well would also cure obesity – I've never actually considered whether that is actually a possibility), I still enjoyed this little adventure, and felt that it, once again, breathed some life into this latter end of the series.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1268866124
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review 2015-04-29 10:54
An epic adventure to slay a dragon
Night Dragon - Steve Jackson

Well, I am getting pretty close to the last of the Fighting Fantasy series, but with the time that I have taken reading them I have a feeling that the next few are going to end up taking almost another year. Even then, there are still a number of other gamebooks that I also wish to revisit (namely Grailquest and Lonewolf among others) and that makes me wonder if I will ever get around to completing all of them before Goodreads, and the rest of the internet, ends up dying due to some super-computer becoming sentient and destroying everything we know and love, and then sending a bunch of robots back in time to kill the mother of the child that ends up defeating it.



Who knows, maybe the internet will simply end because it all becomes obsolete due to massive advances in technology in which we either all become fused with robotic bodies, or simply wake up one day, trash all of our technology, and go back living on a farm growing our own crops because it is all so much easier. Well, I like that third option because at least I can take all my books with me and read them while watching the plants grow. Hey, I could probably do that now, and take my computer with me, but then again I don't know anything about farming, nor do I have enough money to buy a farm, unless that farm is in Vietnam, but then I probably won't have the internet.


It seems like, once again, I have got a little distracted by talking about anything except this particular book. Well, I better rectify this because this is one pretty cool gamebook. You start of in that scumhole of scumholes known as Port Blacksand where you are approached by a Dark Elf (and since it is a Dark Elf hiring you for this quest, then it must be serious) to help bring an end to a great evil (which surprises me because shouldn't Dark elves be happy that great evils are about to arise, unless of course they are in the firing line as well, which makes a lot of sense as to why they want somebody to deal with it). Anyway, you must travel overland to the frozen north, collect a sword, a shield, and some armour, and they go and kill a dragon that is bigger, more powerful, and much more nastier than any dragon that you have ever encountered before.


A big-arse dragon



You can find a solution to this adventure here though this is not necessarily the only way to successfully complete it. In fact I suspect that there is another way through as you should be able to get some specific items prior to reaching certain locations, and you should also be able to destroy some other aspects of the Night Dragon's power before the ultimate combat.



The book has some additional traits, such as an honour and nemesis statistic, though I discovered that neither of those stats seem to add all that much to the adventure. While the nemesis stat did have some effect, mine never got as high that it would end up having a negative effect upon me. As for honour, well, I think there was one point where it came into play, but for the most part it was almost as if it did not exist. Another stat counts the amount of time that passes, and while it can have an effect upon the game, it is not necessarily a huge effect. However it does give you the impression that you are working against the clock, and every time you are told to increase that stat it sort of makes you want to get through a lot quicker, which could result in you missing important items. What it does do though is that after a certain point, it begins to make your final adversary a little tougher.



Like a lot of these later adventures, there are number of maths puzzles that need to be solved, so a lot of the important items have numbers attached to them, which when used at certain points you are told to manipulate the number in a certain way and then turn to the resulting paragraph. It also uses the old turn the letter into its corresponding number, add them all up, do some other things, and then turn to the resulting paragraph. Oh, a number of the monsters, to make them a little more interesting, and some rather convoluted skills, which while they are convoluted, still makes them a little more interesting that simply rolling the dice, working out who won, and then deducting the relevant stamina.


All in all, a pretty cool adventure, though like a lot of these later ones, also pretty long. That probably has something to do with them dropping a lot of the paths that the earlier ones had that would move you towards your goal, but also result in you missing a large chunk of the adventure.


Black Dragon



Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1267075379
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review 2015-02-14 13:01
A quest to learn the fate of a coven of wizards
Island of the Undead - Keith Martin

Not only is this one quite long, but it is also quite difficult in that there are a couple of puzzles that you need to solve to be able to determine the paragraph number. There is even one puzzle where the riddle is written in code, so you have to decipher the code before solving the riddle (and codes and riddles have never been my strong point). This adventure also has an incredible number of objects that you need to collect, though fortunately you are told if you need to record a specific number (such as the paragraph in which the object was found). Martin is quite clever in using numbers in this book, as there are items that are used multiple times, meaning that you have to multiply the number on the item using different multipliers. Another trick that he uses is having you turn the letters of the word into its numerical values, and then adding them all together.

Anyway, unlike many of the other Fighting Fantasy books, this one you begin with basically nothing other than a knife and some clothes. The reason for this is because you begin the adventure as a humble fisherman living in a small fishing village. For years the villages in the local area were protected by wizards living on an island off shore, which included them keeping away ferocious storms. However suddenly the storms began to pick up again and the villagers suspected that something may have happened to the wizards, so a group all pile into a boat and go and investigate. However halfway across the straight the boat is overturned by a massive wave leaving you the only survivor.

While the introduction to the adventure suggests that you can complete it with minimal skills, this is not quite true, especially since the first few monsters are really tough and all you have is a little knife (especially the ghoul in the ship wreck which you must kill to get the magical sword simply because without a magical sword you cannot complete the adventure). Despite the name, there isn't actually all that many undead on the island, and once you move away from the beach the number begins to drop. I actually liked this because many of these books seemed to involve only undead and demons and I had begun to miss the good old normal monsters (though there are no orcs or goblins anywhere, which is probably because people find these monsters a little boring).

Still, I quite liked this adventure, though as I suggested, it is quite long namely because you need to visit all of the locations on the island to be able to complete the adventure successfully. By the time I got to the lower levels of the black tower I simply wanted to get to the end of the book, so I stopped doing what I normally do - that is try to check out ever nook and cranny. Also, you do need to explore the locations on the island in a specific order, but at least, unlike some of the other books, you do get the option to backtrack, and also you do have the option to explore multiple parts of the locations. In a way this book is much more location centric rather that story orientated, meaning that the choices tend to focus on where you want to go rather than direction that the story is heading. It also tends to be a lot less linear. Once again I like this because with many of the linear adventures if you take the wrong path you might end up skipping a large number of important encounters which means that it becomes impossible to solve. At least with this one if you go through one door, you generally get the option to then check out the other place (if you have not done so already).

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1200254568
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-01-06 10:51
Back to the beginning for an anniversary
Return to Firetop Mountain (Puffin Adventure Gamebooks) - Ian Livingstone

Well, it looks like Ian Livingstone has returned for the 50th book in the Fighting Fantasy series and not surprisingly we are taken back to Firetop Mountain where the series began. It turned out that this particular warlock, whom we learn is named Zagor, is actually evil because after his death a spell was cast to bring him back to life, though for some reason it took him ten years to get around to doing it (you would think that if Zagor had such magical defences prepared he would have come back much sooner). However, it seems that despite his ability to bring himself back from the dead, because he waited ten years to do so all he is now is a bunch of bones, so he has decided that he will harvest proper limbs from the local villages.

This is where you come in. Basically you are an adventurer who wanders into the town of Anvil looking for some adventure (and basically make that statement in the local pub) and it becomes clear quite quickly that the villagers want you to go and deal with this supposedly dead warlock. So, with pretty much the same amount of equipment that the previous adventurer took with him (or her) to deal with Zagor initially, you set off to once again deal with this troublesome Warlock.

Much of this book seems to be a trip down memory lane, though as it turns out it is only the first part of the dungeon that we visit some familiar places and that the layout is pretty much the same. However, most of the rooms we visited in the first book have all be closed off, and it isn't long before you discover a path that takes you to a completely different part of the dungeon. Also, the book has a bit more of the story to it as the first section has you travelling to find the wizard Yaztromo before even stepping foot into the mountain. However, once you do enter the mountain the adventure sort of grounds to a halt.

The reason I say that is because there isn't really any labyrinth. The book is basically walk down a passage and come to a door, and occasionally you come to a junction but one of the junctions is always a dead end so basically the entire book is pretty linear. In fact if you search all the rooms you will end up finding everything that you need (though I did miss the iron key because I kept walking through the night, which meant that I also missed the wooden brick – both of which you need to complete the game). The other thing is that there are a huge number of items and many of them are pretty much red herrings, so I found that I was picking up all of this stuff that I never ended up needing, and that which I did need I did not use until right at the end where you seem to use them all at once.

So, all I can say is that while the original was a classic simply because it spawned a new era of gamebooks, comparing it with a lot of the later ones it is pretty bland. However, [book:Warlock of Firetop Mountain] was the first so in many cases the illogical aspects and the apparent non-existent theme (namely break into somebody's house, steal all of his treasure, and kill him and all of his pets) was forgivable on those grounds. However it seems with this book that Livingstone simply wanted to revisit Firetop Mountain for the fiftieth novel yet there simply does not seem that a huge amount of thought actually went into the book. Basically it felt rushed and simply exists to mark a milestone.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1157944406
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