You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

General chit-chat, ramblings, odds and ends.

Moderator: Alastair

Message
Author
User avatar
Alex
Posts: 620
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:45 pm
Location: Netherlands

You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#1 Post by Alex » Sun Oct 05, 2014 1:29 am

I don't know if there are many among you who are fan of the fighting fantasy gamebooks created by Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson. To me they were my introduction to playing adventure games (before I owned a computer) . The first one I played being Citadel of Chaos and I didn't stop until I finished it. I used to draw maps of the books. Years later I finally completed my collection of all original gamebooks and I also bought the new ones and the two board games.

Last month finally the book "you are the hero", another kickstarter project, became available. I recently obtained a copy and I could certainly recommend it. It's a very interesting read.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#2 Post by Mr Creosote » Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:01 pm

Ah, yes, I still have a couple of those sitting on my shelf :)

Citadel of Chaos was quite devious insofar that at one point, it asked the player to enter a three-digit combination lock by jumping to that numbered section - so this was pretty much impossible to pass by cheating. Either you knew the right combination or not. Also, I remember the final battle with the evil mage to be quite imaginative.

The one I liked best, though, was The City of Thieves. Extremely hard and completely unforgiving, but this chaotic city with all its facets really seemed to come alive in my young mind!

User avatar
Alex
Posts: 620
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:45 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#3 Post by Alex » Mon Oct 06, 2014 8:53 pm

Indeed City of Thieves also was very good. When you finally managed to get out of the city alive you had to face Zanbar Bone in his deadly tower. Often learning you had forgotten some vital object and had to start all over again searching the place where you could obtain that object :).

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1720
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#4 Post by Gunness » Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:18 pm

Ah.... memories :) I still have 6 or 7 of those stashed away somewhere. I tried getting my 10 y.o. daughter interested in the series - incidentally with Citadel of Chaos - but it didn't really catch on. In general the writing was quite uneven, but two of the sci-fi entries stand out: Starship Traveller for being awfully disjointed but having a genuinely eerie atmosphere - and Rebel Planet, which made for a terrific adventure, too.
Was The City of Thieves the one where you could keep starting over if you lacked the right info/items, or was that Forest of Doom?

Did anyone ever read/play these as intended? Everybody I knew used to have the book open in a handful of places at any given time, so you could backtrack in case of instant death locations (which there were way too many of) :) I started off by playing it correctly, but after a while I tired of having to restart all the time and read through the same passages.

I didn't realise that there was a KS book project! Will have to investigate :)

Mr Creosote
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#5 Post by Mr Creosote » Tue Oct 07, 2014 6:08 pm

Gunness wrote:Was The City of Thieves the one where you could keep starting over if you lacked the right info/items, or was that Forest of Doom?
Forest of Doom – that was the only redeeming feature of that one, though. And it wasn't even done right: Many sections didn't account for you having visited earlier already.
Gunness wrote:Did anyone ever read/play these as intended? Everybody I knew used to have the book open in a handful of places at any given time, so you could backtrack in case of instant death locations (which there were way too many of) :) I started off by playing it correctly, but after a while I tired of having to restart all the time and read through the same passages.
Oh, of course! Backtracking as many steps as my fingers would allow ;)

User avatar
Alex
Posts: 620
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:45 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#6 Post by Alex » Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:22 pm

Gunness wrote:Did anyone ever read/play these as intended? Everybody I knew used to have the book open in a handful of places at any given time, so you could backtrack in case of instant death locations (which there were way too many of) I started off by playing it correctly, but after a while I tired of having to restart all the time and read through the same passages.
I did it one or two times when I got a new title, but after that I didn't want to read everything again and started mapping the book.

I wasn't very fond of the sci-fi titles. They were actually the last titles I bought to complete my collection. I more liked the fantasy titles like "masks of mayhem", "creature of havoc", "portal of evil", "slaves of the abyss" and "night dragon"

Alastair
Posts: 716
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#7 Post by Alastair » Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:50 pm

The first one I played was The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and I played it correctly, from the initial die rolls all the way to the end. At the end the book says that you should have collected several numbered keys and to open the chest you must select three of those keys, add up the numbers and turn to that section number, if you fail but survive the consequences you can try again with a different key combination. So I get to that point and my first thought was "I've got only three keys, there's no way I can win" never-the-less I add up the numbers, turn to that section, and find that I have won! However instead of feeling elated I actually felt disappointed because I felt that I had missed out on much of the book.

Therefore in all subsequent books I played I would mark my place and check the consequences of even the most obviously wrong action, just so I could 'get more' out of the book. The funny thing is is that I also used my fingers as bookmarks, why did none of us use proper bookmarkers, strips of paper, or just write the numbers down?

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1720
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#8 Post by Gunness » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:54 am

Actually, Warlock of Firetop Mountain was a pretty limp first entry in the series - good thing the follow-up, Citadel of Chaos, was a stronger effort. But apart from Rebel Planet, I can't say that any of the computer games have impressed me much.
Alastair wrote:The funny thing is is that I also used my fingers as bookmarks, why did none of us use proper bookmarkers, strips of paper, or just write the numbers down?
Because we all had our fingers stuck in the books? :lol:

Alastair
Posts: 716
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#9 Post by Alastair » Fri Oct 10, 2014 11:43 pm

Gunness wrote:Actually, Warlock of Firetop Mountain was a pretty limp first entry in the series
I don't know about that, it was a pretty good introduction to the system and although not as tough as later books do you really want the first book to be as tough as, for example, House of Hell (a book I most definitely did not win at my first attempt - I won it on my second go :lol: )? Of course it's been - ahem - thirty plus years since I played Warlock so my memories may be slightly rose-tinted.

Mr Creosote
Posts: 927
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:23 am
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#10 Post by Mr Creosote » Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:40 am

True, House of Hell was really tough. I believe there is only one exact "right" path through the book. Unlike the sci-fi titles, I thought it made a very nice change from the typical swords and sorcery formula, though. The ending was a bit unfortunate, insofar that it really showed one of the limitations of the format: By making the "twist" action one of the explicit options, it robs the player of a large amount of satisfaction he might have felt otherwise. Imagine figuring this out in a text adventure, committing this action and winning - how cool would that have been?

User avatar
Alex
Posts: 620
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:45 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#11 Post by Alex » Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:26 pm

I don’t think the Warlock of Firetop mountain was too bad especially being the first gamebook they have written. As far as I remember I enjoyed playing it, but like Alastair it’s around 30 years ago I played that one for the last time. The only problem was that I played the Dutch version (the first six books have been translated into Dutch). This version had several errors in the paragraph numbers making it impossible to solve. I remember spending hours in correcting all numbers in the book. I do play sometimes the boardgame ‘the Warlock of Firetop Mountain’ which is very enjoyable.

House of Hell was among the first gamebooks I bought and I agree it certainly was an interesting title. It is also interesting to compare it with the original much shorter story published in number 3 of Warlock Magazine (available for download on the internet). In it you can see below picture which belonged to paragraph 264 and which was removed by Puffin books because they didn't find it suitable for younger children
house of hell.png
house of hell.png (216.78 KiB) Viewed 1937 times
.

Did anyone try the only two-player fighting fantasy title “Clash of the princes”? This was a boxset containing two gamebooks. I think it was an interesting concept. Pity they published only one of this.

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1720
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#12 Post by Gunness » Tue Oct 14, 2014 8:01 am

Having young children around the house (at least one of whom has been reading FF books) , I can testify that said image might be a bit over the top :)

Alastair
Posts: 716
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:21 am

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#13 Post by Alastair » Mon Oct 20, 2014 10:47 pm

My copy of House of Hell contains that illustration, so I guess that it was removed in later editions. I can't say that I remember being perturbed by the picture, it didn't even lodge in my memory, but the atmosphere created by the story certainly was disturbing.

User avatar
Gunness
Site Admin
Posts: 1720
Joined: Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:04 pm
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Contact:

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#14 Post by Gunness » Tue Oct 21, 2014 7:34 am

I don't know if anyone's seen the new documentary From Bedrooms to Billions (yet) - it charts the British gaming industry from homebrewn BASIC games to gazillion pounds projects. Apart from it being really good and covering an important part of gaming history, it features pretty much all major UK gaming icons. Including Fighting Fantasy's Ian Livingstone. He doesn't talk about FF though, or even Eureka!, but still... Two of the Level 9 brothers are also part of the doc, if only for a short while. I still hope to land an interview with them some day.

Anyway... sorry about this small detour. Check out the trailer here.

And now back to our regular programming (!)

User avatar
Alex
Posts: 620
Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:45 pm
Location: Netherlands

Re: You are the hero - Fighting Fantasy gamebooks

#15 Post by Alex » Fri Oct 24, 2014 9:06 pm

Alastair wrote:My copy of House of Hell contains that illustration, so I guess that it was removed in later editions.
Yes, the picture was removed in later editions because Puffin had received several complaints.
Gunness wrote:I don't know if anyone's seen the new documentary From Bedrooms to Billions (yet) - it charts the British gaming industry from homebrewn BASIC games to gazillion pounds projects.
I haven't seen it yet, but it looks interesting.

Post Reply