Well it seems the Fighting Fantasy franchise has been completely sold out to ScholasticUK. It’s with deep regret I have to post this as the cover of the brand new Fighting Fantasy adventure. How twee, and how mocking of everything good up to now… and that’s been sparse!
For all those who might say… ‘but these books are now aimed at 5-8 year olds’… screw you! We was also that age when we started collecting and we got the likes of this.
Fighting Fantasy art is one half of the glory, and now its been handed to people who do not know the series nor have the style to suit. While there is every possibility Rhianna (yes, his daughter) has turned out a good story, I strongly believe we will have another Higson-esque adventure that just doesn’t capture the feel of Titan. And hey, another coverstyle. Scholastic ripping completist collectors off once again no doubt to make this ailing experiment with a legendary series a bit of profit. Which begs me to ask once again… I wonder what proportion of the profits come from old school collectors and how much comes from modern youth, not including those who buy them for their kids to relive their own youth? Scholastic have decided to ignore die hard fans once more, and I say fuck them.
Up until now, I only purchased new adventures in the Scholastic range. This hideous travesty of a cover sees me divorcing from any modern FF releases that are not from classic talent. It breaks my heart to say this, but everything Scholastic has done to this point apart from Assassins Of Allansia is either fatally flawed or absolute and utter trash, trumped by the modern generation of authors who actually know the genre such as Mark Lain, Victoria Hancox, James Schannep and Dane Barrett to name a few.
I’ve done a little bit of proof reading and play testing for Mark Lain in the past, including the mini’s in Destiny’s Role book 0. Book 1 on the other hand is an absolute epic by comparison. Here we have a single adventure a whopping 500 references long with three artists on board, Alan Langford for the gorgeous cover, the ineffable Malcolm Barter on cartography and Mike Tenebrae for the internal illustrations. Having backed this on Kickstarter my likeness has been included in a very prestigious place in the book. Must admit, Mike did exceptionally well as I’m not easy to photograph let alone draw.
Anyway back to the story. The premise is to hunt down and destroy the Redcap and her witchly associates before her power becomes far too strong she can take over the land. And boy is it a tough ride. You need to make sure you get as many objects and provisions as possible as you will be in so many situations where these will be useful, not to mention the combats in Mistress Of Sorrows come thick and fast. You’re surely guaranteed not to complete it first time. I stopped counting at my twelfth death, most of them in fights.
Mark has clearly researched a lot on the subject matter, and evidence of this is none so obvious if you manage to get to Covan. This particular part of the book is my favourite area and the descriptive of events therein has writing in a style suitable enough for a film screenplay. This surpasses the authorship of other gamebook writers that have been in the game for years, just like Victoria Hancox did with Nightshift.
Whilst I managed to complete the quest and slay the Bigbad, she took me with her and I succumbed to her final hex. (So didn’t manage to meet myself lol) I hear a third book is in the works as well, so soon after Mistress Of Sorrows and I’m deliberately holding back credit so I can be part of that Kickstarter also when it comes about. If you don’t own Destiny’s Role books, it’s high time you did as you’re missing out on the cream of modern gamebooks crop. 10/10
I’m proud to announce my good friend and author Mark Lain has launched a follow up to his Destiny’s Role gamebook on Kickstarter. With a colour cover art by the legendary Alan Langford and interior art by modern illustrator Mike Tenebrae, you can help fund this amazing interactive project by CLICKING HERE.
Remember how excellent some gamebooks actually were back in the 80s? The ones with mostly fresh ideas that we couldn’t wait for the release of? This is also a very impacting game book based largely on brainwork as there are no combat systems. Typically, this is everything Choose You Own Adventure should have been. Creepy, paced, atmospheric and relies heavily on cerebral skill to get you through. It literally doesn’t need dice or card systems to work whereby the aforementioned CYOA were dreadfully easy.
Set within the confines of a creepy hospital (that’s enough to shit some people up alone), you awaken in a very surreal version of your world. You realise quite early on some lunatic (liking it already) is stalking you to chop you up like other victims. These turn out to be witches and the author has cleverly interlaced witch folklore into the story, with the looney taking different body parts from each in order to gain special powers. But things take a turn for the worse when you discover a higher power in control of this seemingly willing slave. All throughout the adventure you feel everything is being manipulated around you from room to room, and you don’t know what random and usually gory thing is going to happen next.
All the classic Fighting Fantasy esque conundrums are here, from riddles and letter codes (like in Ian Livingstone’s Deathtrap Dungeon) , to cryptic deciphering and numbered items (Steve Jackson’s Creature Of Havoc perhaps). It’s even 400 references long. For a first gamebook from Victoria Hancox, this is an excellent debut. She has certainly drawn from her familiarities with gamebooks and experiences which have added backbone to the game and I have also been in contact with Victoria and begged that she’ll write another. She replied to me and… I’m not going to say the answer 😜.
This is what many modern gamebooks should be like, and if you like the Horror gamebooks like me… it should be the very next book you buy.
Attempts.. 6 🙂
*proudly became the first known player to complete it successfully according to the author.
September has seen the release of Fighting Fantasy game book Assassins Of Allansia by the Guv himself, Ian Livingstone.
Assassins Of Allansia
I recently picked up my hardback copy of the book at the Fighting Fantasy Fest 3 from the authors son, Jack. I mentioned my weirdo number 44, and asked if that copy was available as all 400 copies were numbered. He dug it out for me also mentioning it’s Ian’s weirdo number as well. Nice. Anyway Ian signed it later on with a personal message.
So, with all that aside… what do i think to this entry in the popular gamebook series?
It’s a lovely adventure to come back after the series sending up that was Gates Of Death and the fair but fatally flawed Port Of Peril. I’m old school FF and thus have noticed that this and especially Gates seem to have alternative lore to the Fighting Fantasy book many of us have read. The DECAYER in Assassins for example, is nothing like the undead looking creature inked by Tim Sell in Out Of The Pit. SEE HERE. We are also getting Earth christian names now, like Florence, Henry and Samuel. This isn’t detrimental to the book in itself but it is a thorn in an old school fans side. Makes it feel like there’s a dimension crack and reality is seeping into our beloved Titan. Hold on, 20GPs to stay on a dangerous island for how long? You can find that just bumming around for a day.
The art by Robert Ball is somewhat nicer than Vlado Krizans and given Scholastic seem to avoid the more detailed illustrations of yesteryear in favour for dummied down jagged angular repro’s I finally feel a sense of actually being on Titan again. Not much, just a bit.
I think we need to stop comparing what FF was and accept it is going to be different now a bit like any other series reboot. (Doctor Who, James Bond etc). Definitely a Livingstone book. Youll know what that means after a couple of nights on the island. The story itself is packed full of dangers and the Guv has gone out of his way to make you not want to try things out in case it causes stat penalties. Also, you could call this FF5and a half as it takes place between City Of Thieves and Deathtrap Dungeon. Not to mention an appearance of a familiar much loved character from one of them…and I dont mean Azzur or Sukumvit.
Overall, if we brush away the old school cobwebs and altering Titan lore, this is the best since the Scholastic FF revival. I hope more come out like this rather than the previous couple.
For about 23 years now I have been toying with the idea of getting tattoo’s based on the amazing illustrations from the Fighting Fantasy game book series. Well this month I finally went beserk. Starting off with the Iain McCaig filler illustration of the villainous Zanbar Bone from the book City Of Thieves.
Fighting fantasy Zanbar Bone City of Thieves
The tattooist did such an amazing job barely three weeks later I nuked some credit and had two more done. The first being Martin McKenna’s unused filler intended for FF40, Dead Of Night. Puffin rejected it though because of the religious iconography. Cowards.
Fighting fantasy dead of night
The next would be John Blanches filler from the Sorcery series which I simply call sun-orc. Sorcery was the epic four book Fighting Fantasy quest which introduced me to the entire series.
The Fighting Fantasy game book series has played a massive part in my life, to the point i need some space back here on my blog. So I have finally taken it upon myself to build my own fan site dedicated to this 80s phenomenon. I’m still in the midst of optimising and adding content but I’m sure you’ll agree it isn’t looking too bad. CLICK HERE to take a peek.
Today see’s the launch of a brand new Kickstarter by renowned gamebook author Jonathan Green.
“TWAS – The Krampus Night Before Christmasis a brand new adventure gamebook (a multi-path book, very much in the style of Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks), inspired by the poemA Visit From Saint Nicholas, by Clement Clarke Moore, as well as other winter- or festive-themed classics, such as Hans Christian Andersen’sThe Snow Queen, and John Masefield’sThe Box of Delights.It will be the fifth title in the ongoingACE Gamebooksseries.”
There are many reasons to back this exciting new project. From having your name credited in the book, to being an official play tester. To check out all the other rewards, CLICK HERE
The #FightingFantasy audio dramas increase this week with four new thrilling adventures by Fox Yason Music Productions. FF classics Citadel Of Chaos, Forest Of Doom, Deathtrap Dungeon and Creature Of Havoc have all been given the audible upgrade due to a successful Kickstarter project earlier this year and come together in a lovely box set or via MP3 download.
Jam with his new FF CDs
Each adventure follows the adventures of heroes from the first CD The Warlock Of Firestop Mountain and appears to slightly predate the efforts of the hero that actually completes the adventure (the successful readers of the actual Fighting Fantasy gamebook series). Vocal talents such as Rachel Atkins, Richard Rycroft and Lisa Bowerman are also joined by Charlie Higson of The Fast Show fame and author of The Enemy book series and the latest Fighting Fantasy gamebook Gates Of Death.
All in all these are great little adventure skits which fans of the series will love, with the only real downside being they seem a little short i.e. when you consider the likes of Baron Sukumvit’s labyrinth being navigated rather quickly, with only a couple of traps and three or four monsters. That’s my only personal gripe but then consider the stories are well thought out and the scripts well written. I especially love the bitchy dialogue between Vale Moonwing and Lady Lucretia. I also enjoy the way all spell incantations pay homage to the old Di Maggio spell of the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook, with basically a word associated with the spells effect said backwards then the casters’ name after it. You can tell the likes of David Smith and Violet Addison knew the lore of Fighting Fantasy before starting this project and they’ve handled it beautifully to give us a wonderful expansion on the Fighting Fantasy range. May their STAMINA never fail! To grab yourself a copy visit HERE
Revered author Jonathan Green invites you to take part in the funding of the fourth book in his ACE Gamebook series, Beowulf Beastslayer. Illustrated by the hugely popular artist Russ Nicholson, this adventure will see the reader take on the role of the legendary warrior Beowulf. The reader will make the choices in the book of how the story progresses: which goes to fight, which treasures to take etc.
Beowulf Beastslayer illustration by Russ Nicholson.
To take part in the funding of this exciting project, backers who donate from £5 onwards will be rewarded with items such as prints of the illustrations, their name credited in the book, special edition hardbacks and much much more.