As a young lad growing up in the 1980s, I fell fairly and squarely into the so-called ‘gamebook’ craze. I loved Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, Lone Wolf, Grail Quest, Falcon, Blood Sword, Dragon Warriors, Freeway Warrior, Cretan Chronicles and probably some others that slip my mind for the moment.
For the two people who actually care enough to read this, but don’t recall the idea of a ‘gamebook’, they used a very similar structure to so-called ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ books. The story took place over non-consecutive pages, and you were frequently asked to make a choice, such as :
‘If you want to fight the Goblin King, turn to 322.
If you want to run away, turn to 213.
If you want to use your Belt of Swordmastery, turn to 112.’
The ‘game’ component came from the idea that you would roll dice on (many) occasions to see if you successfully killed the opponent, climbed the wall, charmed the princess, or what-have-you. Often you would be permitted to collect items, tokens and so forth, failure to possess which at a later stage would mean death.
‘Death’ was hardly fatal. Scrupulous players were meant to return to the start after ‘dying’, but this was a tradition followed more in the breach than the observance.
Many of the more interesting series carried with them the idea of an ongoing ‘story’ carried over several books. In theory, this meant that, upon successfully ‘completing’ a book, you would carry your ‘character’, together with strengths and weaknesses, to the next book in the series.
The one series that absolutely captured my imagination was the ‘Way of the Tiger’. A collaborative effort by Mark Smith and Jamie Thomson, the main character was a bad-ass ninja, who was brought up in a martial arts dojo. Naturally your character was of mysterious parentage and your life changed forever when a mysterious stranger sent you on a quest (I guess the authors had, along with almost every creator, read Hero Of A Thousand Faces).
There were six books in the initial series and I had two massive problems :
1. I was never able to locate book 5, called Warbringer!
2. The sixth book ended on a cliffhanger, with no book seven in sight.
However, in recent years, due to an amazing Kickstarter effort, both Book 7 (and a prequel) were funded and published.
I managed to source book 5 on ebay, and my series is now complete!
I will therefore be attempting to, age 40, successfully complete this series of gamebooks!
Rules in the next post!