@FightingFantasy – Gates Of Death. The second brand new Fighting Fantasy adventure game book released after Port Of Peril in 2017s Scholastic relaunch of the series. So how was it for me?
Me after finishing Gates Of Death by Charlie Higson
After an excruciating wait from Fighting Fantasy Fest 2 up until today I finally managed to tread through the latest adventure set in Allansia. Charlie Higson of The Fast Show fame had been a fan of Fighting Fantasy for years, and has graced us with Gates Of Death, his debut epic for the series. He was invited by FF co-series creator Ian Livingstone to guest write, and has made history as the first guest writer to have his own name on the front cover of an FF book. The celebrity essence may lend the series some pulling power.
Now, you may already know that I cannot stand the internal art scholastic has chosen for these books.
Little better than cheap grayscale slap dash comic styles, and this book is no exception. It’s a shame because the beautiful realistic illustrations in the classic series is what attracted me to FF in the first place. Thankfully, Higson’s writing hits the nail on the head and saves the book with fast paced scenarios and cleverly interwoven snares for readers to get netted up in. Multi FF author Jonathan Green is said to have coached Higson and this is apparent as Gates Of Death contains a couple of similar elements to Greens work Night Of The Necromancer, although this may be coincidence.
One thing I noticed is the fighting aspect is really kept to a minimum. You could always use an alternative to get yourself out of a rut with opponents. I think I completed the adventure with only four actual melee combats. There is plenty of magic to be found and used in this adventure, three pairs of magic shoes for example. I guess he likes giving you plenty of chances to win as you only need one pair!
FF is now meant to be aimed at a younger demographic than before, although this book introduces the words ‘bum’ and ‘farting’ into the FF vocab. Not to mention a mutant with two faces on it’s bottom actually illustrated! While it’s clearly meant to bring humour it seems to cheapen the feel of the serious quest.
Overall this is a grand adventure, much better than the ho hum badly named Port Of Peril (which barely has anything to do with the Port in question, you’re there longer in this book) …and a wonderful debut for Higson to the series. He could easily do some more. 7.5/10
Me and Charlie Higson at FFF2 – 2017
So Scholastic have set the next six #FightingFantasy books into motion. Another five revivals and a brand new title, The Gates Of Death, should be joining us around April. Whilst not many of the die hard fans appreciated the cover art of the first six releases last year, at least they was all done by the same artist and looked generic. Unfortunately we are now met with a change in design. It’s not good.
Though one may argue the artwork is slightly more in line with the classic series (I said slightly) , it has been confined to a tiny circle in the middle of the page with about 80% the rest just a single colour broken by white lines. I’m pretty certain this is a money saving device. When you consider the full cover of art we had in the 80s – 00s this isn’t progress nor very eye catching. With the last six covers Scholastic gave the excuse they was using this type of art to appeal to an era of video gaming children. So why the change? I guess they’re admitting they was wrong and the fans we’re right and now going down the cheapest route tasting sour grapes.
The Gates Of Death will be the first ‘presented’ written FF adventure since Jonathan Green’s wonderful Howl Of The Werewolf, and from the look of it Charlie Higson (of The Fast Show fame) will be the first non series creator to have his name boldly displayed on the front cover. Prestigious that may be, but is this a marketing twist to attract his own fans to buy this new quest? Either way, I am grateful for another new story and hope it goes down well with fans expectations and spurs Scholastic to employ other guest writers too such as the aforementioned Jonathan Green, Dave Morris, Jamie Thomson etc etc
Jam meets Charlie Higson at FFF2
Author Jonathan Green shoots for a hatrick in his third exciting ACE gamebook adventure, Neverland – Here Be Monsters. After the success of funding Alice’s Nightmare In Wonderland and The Wicked Wizard Of Oz, this newly launched Kickstarter project is already 40% funded in just 10 hours.
The book, part story part game, will see you play a survivor of the doomed Titanic ocean liner. When you come to, you find yourself washed up on the shores of a strange island packed with rampaging monsters a swashbuckling pirates. But what’s this…? Peter Pan?
Once again Jonathan weaves a popular child classic into a steampunk-style yarn, beautifully illustrated once again by the inks of popular artist Kev Crossley.
Why not check out this fantastic third book at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1412864360/neverland-here-be-monsters and see those amazing rewards on offer, including being an official playtester!
#FightingFantasy has exploded back into being in many forms over the past couple of years, and this evening I managed to listen to the audio story version of The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain: The Hero’s Quest. It was rather well scripted, with the vocal talents of Rachel Atkins, Tim Treloar, Toby Longworth and Harry Primus. (The former sounding in my opinion very much like the late Lynda Bellingham).
Each track is a new scene of the adventure on the CD, as we follow Vale Moonwing and her unwillingly aquired companion, Cassius Stormblade, through the mountain to defeat Zagor the Warlock. It is rather true to the gamebook from which it is based with crowd pleasing appearances from familiar monsters.
FoxYason Music Productions LTD have proven they can churn out a great audio adaptation of the popular Fighting Fantasy series’ first adventure, so it will be very interesting to see if they can bring on other gems including the ever popular Deathtrap Dungeon or hotly under-used House Of Hell.
We Titanese wait patiently in the wings…
Had a lovely day today. Walked Magic up to the shipyard and plotted some gps gaming areas, did a bit of work at the community garden and this evening took baby Cassia to her first swimming lesson with Vic. She enjoyed most of it until her gums started hurting. Poor baby, teething must be so painful.
Also managed to get rid of my copy Trolltooth Wars Graphic Novel. Well, the creators never replied so clearly they thought it wasn’t worth their asking price either. Sold it at a much worthier price as well. Oddly enough, the same price they think a small bit of card’s worth! Good riddance to it and their filthy not-so-flawless-as-they-think customer relations skills.
My good friend Dave Sharrock has released his first gamebook in recent times which will get its own review here when I next get a window. Jam out!
Lots of lovely hits to my blog recently. I see there are many playing Lair Of The Lunatic which is wonderful and I hope you’re enjoying it. Not much to report here other than I now own a copy of Doctor Who And The Fescan Threat. Certainly the largest single gamebook I have ever laid hands on at 2001 references and its as big as an Argos catalogue. Seek and acquire.
So nothing else to report. In the meantime here’s my latest FF meme. Corny as cereal flakes.
While it’s all quiet on the Western Front I just have time to say to everyone Jonathan Green will be launching another Kickstarter soon to fund his new adventure gamebook, Neverland. This will be another classic tale based adventure with the Green twist.
Dave Sharrock has also produced a physical gamebook under the Woven Paths label. It looks mighty big next to a Fighting Fantasy book so should be well worth checking out HERE.
Time for some job hunting. Jam out!