Firstly, I want to acknowledge that David Walters, the sole credited author of this book, has followed this blog for some time, and his comments and feedback have been much appreciated.
Actually, there’s no but at all – I thought this gamebook worked beautifully, and had pretty much the desired degree of difficulty.
To write a successful gamebook, you really only need to consider two criteria :
- Is the ‘story’ interesting?
- Is the book too hard or too easy?
If your book is very interesting, then players won’t mind playing it through a few times, but boredom is death, particularly when it involves simply re-rolling dice ad infinitum to see if a particular obstacle can be passed.
That’s why Creature of Havoc is beloved, while Caverns of the Snow Witch and Crypt of the Sorcerer are spoken of with muttered voices in alleyways behind taverns.
After this preamble, I can confirm that Ninja! is an extremely well-crafted and atmospheric gamebook, with about the right level of difficulty and numerous interesting ‘NPCs’.
In fact, I would place it above ‘Redeemer’. This is because Redeemer, at times, seemed overly keen to include and / or reference characters and incidences from the 6 books which had preceded it. Perhaps because of the continuity-based restrains concerning Ninja!, David Walters gave careful consideration to the need to preserve the protagonist’s character, while throwing in subtle editorial references to the future path the character would take.
Although not every nook and cranny was covered in this play-through, I applaud the effort of creating a valid prequel that nevertheless did not undermine the books that took place chronologically in the future.
I should also mention that the strategem of having five cities from which flags could be ‘won’ worked very well, with each of the cities having valid choices (save and except the citiy which required infiltration and then also numerous successful dice rolls to evade capture – or maybe I just followed the wrong path.
Well done, Mr Walters!
For the curious, I’m going to write a general post on the series as a whole, and then a FAQ for all those who may come across this page in the future. I’ll be starting Lone Wolf before the end of September.
Fair warning – I’m going to be demanding comments from all my followers regarding this blog, gamebooks and life in general!