If you are a gamer like me and of a certain age, you may well remember one of the first ways to enjoy a single player, story driven, RPG adventure. In the form of a series of books called Fighting Fantasy novels! Produced and written by the amazing Ian Livingston and Steve Jackson.
You would take the part of an adventurer in an exciting world from fantasy to Sci Fi, creating your character with the roll of a dice making health points, skill, stamina etc.
You start reading your story like any normal book, but then when your character came across a fork in the road or a decision to make, you would be instructed to turn to the next numbered paragraph required to continue your story, sometimes leading to certain death!
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was the first of these novels published in 1982 and was such a success, it spawned a total of 59 books in the series as well as inspiration for countless games, books and computer games; it truly paved the way for the games we are playing now. Not bad for a small paperback of less than 200 pages long!
So how does this game transition into the 21st century? I am pleased to say really well! Kind of? First off, it is pretty amazing how close to the book this game is, pictures that were in the book, beautifully illustrated by Russ Nicholson, will also be found in the game, helping to draw you into the game. Along with this, as you play the text written in the book fills the screen explaining the story and giving your choices and again the text is almost exactly the same, with just a few changes to help it fit with the new medium. But rather than just a text driven game akin to the old Grannies Garden Game on the old BBC, you also get a visual of the area along the lines of a D&D figure on an isometric map, and it looks pretty good. As you make your way around, the world drops down around your character, you make decisions on what direction to take and the figure paces around the board or map. This kinda works as it fits with the medium and does not distract from the core of the game which is the text. But unfortunately it does not really add any excitement or intrigue to the game, and it almost makes you skip some descriptive text because you can already see East or West as a choice, this then means you start to miss the value in the text.
Another big change is the combat, gone are the dice. Instead it has reduced it to a stepping stone game where you decide to move or attack the enemy and they do the same, if you are lucky the enemy moved into where you are hitting, or you do the same. It is simple and can easily be anticipated taking away some of the challenge. But get three or four enemies and you can find you have nowhere to run.
If you find you lose a battle, you have three chances to reset the game back to your last save spot which is a nice little tree stump found every now and then, which also helps to restore lost hit points. Now this would not be possible in the book when you died. You died and had to start again unless, like me, you always kept a finger in the last paragraph before the challenge allowing you to’re-do’ the challenge.
So should you try this game? Well that depends, if like me you played and loved these books as a child, then yes wholeheartedly, you absolutely must get it! It has brought back so many memories of playing these books it has made me hunt out my books and dice and start reading again! Who knows you may even remember what lies behind that door. If you love reading fantasy novels or D&D then yes, you will love it and you will probably want to go and find all 59 books in the series. But if you are after an action thrill ride of a game where fast fingers matter then pass it by, you will be bored before you find your first orc!
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain: Goblin Scourge Edition! is a wonderfully written experience from the 80’s, full of nostalgia and I loved it. It fits perfectly onto the Nintendo Switch due to its portability, putting it onto the TV screen seems a waste as these stories were always meant to be personal. Can you survive the journey? Did you find the Warlock? Writing what feels like your own adventure. It’s not quite how the books made me feel but the nostalgia was great.
REVIEW CODE: A FREE Nintendo Switch code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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