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Messages - Dark Jimbo

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Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 03 May, 2022, 11:35:48 AM »
...tracking what actually killed you is some next level stuff. I'd be interested to see if you have a nemesis across all books.

Me too! That's basically why I started the spreadsheet. 😆

If you PM your email address I'll send you my template (and that goes for anyone else who fancies it).

Books & Comics / Re: Placebo Judge Dredd Strip
« on: 03 May, 2022, 11:01:59 AM »
Does Judge Death kill Brian Molko? I'd read it if so.

Blerugh. Much worse - Placebo and their fans beat up the Dark Judges.

It's pretty telling that Si Spurrier didn't write this under his real name!

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 03 May, 2022, 09:49:09 AM »
Started this purely for my own amusement as I play through the books I own, but thought it'd be of interest for some here:

Announcements / Re: 2000 AD - The Ultimate Collection
« on: 02 May, 2022, 07:05:47 PM »
It looks increasingly like 'Stickleback' and 'The Order' will not get second books. Much to my chagrin.

the original books were literally complete at the time there was no chance of getting a second book of them

Not Stickleback - like Kingdom, there were two books left uncollected (Stickleback is now three).

Announcements / Re: 2000 AD - The Ultimate Collection
« on: 02 May, 2022, 12:44:16 PM »
Updated list - only three unknowns left!

111 - Strontium Dog: Repo Men
112 - ABC Warriors 7
113 - ABC Warriors 8
114 - Strontium Dogs 1
115 - Strontium Dogs 2
116 - Strontium Dogs 3
117 -
118 - Mean Arena 1
119 - Mean Arena 2
120 -
121 - Cradlegrave
122 - Brass Sun 1
123 - Brass Sun 2
124 - The Returners
125 -
126 - Finn 1
127 - Finn 2
128 -
129 -
130 -
131 -
132 - Rogue Trooper: War Machine
133 -
134 -
135 -
136 - The Fall of Deadworld
137 - Sin/Dex 4
138 - Sin/Dex 5
139 - Sin/Dex 6
140 - Sin/Dex 7

10 gaps left. We know that the following 7 are coming, but not which volume numbers they'll be:

Devlin Waugh
Samantha Slade
Leviathan (probably in the same book as Necronauts)

The V.C.s clean up the competition.

General / Re: Forthcoming Thrills - 2022
« on: 29 April, 2022, 12:41:15 PM »
There's something quite bewildering about bringing back Skip Tracer yet again...

James Peaty's got incriminating photos of Tharg.

Harlem Heroes, on the other hand, in addition to having great art by Gibbons & Belardinelli, was also the strip which gave us Artie Gruber (one of my fave villains in Tooth). And although it did not register with me at the time, looking back now, I can't recall many comics which featured a largely black cast of characters. Which, for me at least, shows just how far ahead and progressive 2000AD was for its time.

This is the HH reboot, paddy - Fleisher and Dillon.

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 28 April, 2022, 11:31:20 AM »
House of Hell up next. I know this is a well-regarded book, but I when I played it as a kid I really didn't like it: the art, the theme, and the difficulty level all put me right off. I feel a little trepidation about revisiting it.

It's not just me, then.

Nope, me three. I'm tempted to skip it.

I've not played any of the newer ones I've got - Assassins, Blood of the Zombies etc. I am quite tempted by Bloodbones, because I like pirates. Any strongly recommended ones (besides Moonrunner) from book 29 onwards?

You can't really go wrong with anything by Jonathan Green (Spellbreaker, Knights of Doom, Bloodbones, Curse of the Mummy, Howl of the Werewolf, Stormslayer, Night of the Necromancer). Those latter three in particular are just superb - some of the best FFs full stop.

The Stephen Hand trilogy is also highly recommended - Dead of Night, Legend of the Shadow Warriors, and Moonrunner.

And Vault of the Vampire might just be my favourite-ever FF.

Armitage has never clicked with me. Not to mention he's been an old man for over thirty years, now! Wouldn't he be well into his 90s? Luke Kirby is something quite special. Only wish it had run for longer.

Love it or loathe it, Revere still stands unique in comics - even among the oeuvre of John Smith, there's not really anything else quite like it. A fascinating experiment, and probably the apex of Simon Harrison's comic work, too. Quite a legacy for a thrill that barely scrapes 100 pages.

By contrast, the Samantha Slade stories are a fairly tired and uninspiring reboot of a classic thrill that saw one of the truly great prog artists bow out on a really sour note (even if it was his own fault). A tarnished legacy all round.*

*It wasn't all bad - Stim! (in particular) and Casino Royale are great stories, that absolutely encapsulate the fun, thrill and whimsy of the original. And then Grant and Gibson stopped caring again,

Announcements / Re: 2000 AD - The Ultimate Collection
« on: 28 April, 2022, 09:44:12 AM »
...it looks like The 2nd Mean Arena volume also contains John Smith's Slaughterbowl... Seems they decided to go with a future sports theme instead.

Huh. That's interesting. Bit annoying, too, as I fancy having Slaughterbowl in hardback but I'm not really interested in Mean Arena.

Film & TV / Re: Last movie watched...
« on: 27 April, 2022, 12:51:59 PM »
I've never watched The Rockateer, but the poster's design aesthetic turns me off. I just don't like Googie. See also: The Jetsons.

Interesting side note: George Jetson was a 40-year old father in 2062, meaning he's born this very year.

Games / Re: Gamebooks
« on: 26 April, 2022, 02:41:38 PM »
Scorpion Swamp

I’ve played this one before, somewhere back in the mists of time (I know because I found two old maps of the swamp in my handwriting tucked inside the front cover) but I honestly don’t remember anything much about the book, or how I did; except that when you make your choice of which three wizards to serve, I always went with Poomchukker (because his name made me laugh). So I’m essentially embarking on a new adventure, with two of three wizards unplayed and no idea of the ending…

Playthroughs 1, 2 & 3
Well, these go laughably badly. My first adventurer is Skill 8, Stamina 19 and Luck 11. That’s right – Skill 8. Sigh. Anyway, my first decision is which of the three characters – good wizard Selator, evil sorcerer Grimslade and neutral trader Poomchukker - I’m going to serve on my meanderings through the swamp. I’ve been serving the forces of good for six gamebooks now, and I’m not going to lie – the idea of cutting loose and being evil massively appeals. So it’s off to the Spooky Castle™ of Grimslade I go. My magic Ring immediately warns me that he’s evil. Well, yes. That’s why I’m here. He enquires how I plan to get through the swamp, and as soon as I mention the Ring he starts an incantation. In retrospect, I was clearly meant to stop him, but I naively assume he’s weaving a protection spell for himself, standing idly by and watching as he summons a Skill 16 DEMON. Skill 16! Against Skill 8! It goes as well as you might expect – although I amaze myself by getting two hits in before I go down.

I won’t lie, that left a bad taste in the mouth, so I choose to serve, respectively, Selator and Poomchukker for my next few attempts. Both abortive playthroughs follow the same path – in my fourth clearing I meet evil sorcerer THE MASTER OF SPIDERS. First I try to talk to him. He has a spider bite me. I die. Next I cast a friendship spell. It doesn’t work, but he fakes friendship long enough to have a spider bite me. I die.

Playthrough 4
Right. I am done, done, done with evil wizards. From now on, I’m just going to kill on sight anyone who looks even the tiniest bit like Ming the Merciless. This time I roll up my first halfway decent adventurer of Skill 10, Stamina 24(!) and Luck 8. No deliberations this time, I choose good wizard Selator immediately. I’m instantly rewarded for my good judgement (this time, anyway. Ahem…) with an increase of +2 to my initial Luck score. Selator wants a berry from Titan’s last remaining Antherica bush, rumoured to grow deep in Scorpion Swamp. Seems simple enough.

The first encounter of note (I meet the MASTER OF WOLVES, but exactly nothing happens) is a gaggle of SWORD TREES. They’re a Ronseal enemy if ever there was one – a whole bunch of trees, waving swords. Huh. The natural thing to do seems to be to let a Fire spell take care of them, but it’s totally ineffective, so I wade in with my own sword. They aren’t as fearsome as they look, but… they are already starting to grow back. So I have it away on my toes, and flee West. In the next clearing is a DIRE BEAST – an enemy so fearsome, so foulsome, that artist Duncan Smith was forbidden from depicting it, lest he warp a generation of impressionable minds. (He would take his revenge years later, after adding an Iain to his name, when he ushered in sweeping cuts to disability benefits and Universal Credit). The beast proves less fearsome than the erstwhile Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, though, and eventually I manage to slay it without much trouble. The only exit is East, so I head back into the Sword Tree clearing and – oh, fiddlesticks. The bastards have already grown back. I hack them to matchwood for a second time and flee North, hoping not to have to come back this way again.

I use my Friendship spell to placate a wounded UNICORN, and to be honest I’m expecting a reward, a clue or perhaps an ally for a future battle. Nothing happens, and I suspect that’s yet another spell wasted. Further North still, and I find myself overlooking the mighty Foulblood River (great name, Steve!) This stymies further progress, and in looking for a way across I run into a THIEF. He seems an affable sort, but my Ring says otherwise – so I’ve no compunction in cutting him down. His corpse has curiously little to loot – just a red cloak – but I take it anyway. Fording the Foulblood soon afterward, I plunge straight into some quicksand. I survive, but only by shrugging out of my trusty leather armour and abandoning it to the swamp – lowering my respectable Skill of 10 to a lowly 8! This could be the worst thing that’s happened to me since entering the Swamp, particularly as in the next clearing a GIANT looms above the treeline.

My ring isn’t warning me of danger, so I swallow down my trepidation and hail him in a friendly fashion. Surprisingly, he bursts into tears. Erm… The giant’s upset because he’s lost his prized red handkerchief (you’d think he’d keep crying to a minimum, then…) ‘Does it look something like this?’ I ask, whipping out the red cloak I took from the thief. He’s overjoyed; I think I’ve made a friend for life, here. Perhaps I should find this all a bit silly, but it’s actually a curiously sweet encounter in a series known for a ‘chop heads off, ask questions later’ mentality. If this was an Ian Livingstone book I’d already be bathing in his blood! He says he thinks he saw an Antherica bush due North of here, so I duly head off to investigate. And sure enough, there it is – guarded by a brace of WOLVES. Unusually, I kill one of them during the initial text preamble, without having to roll for Luck or Skill or anything, leaving me only one to deal with – and even with my lowered Skill of 8 he doesn’t present a challenge. And then there’s nothing to do here but walk over to the Antherica bush and pluck a berry. Nothing happens. Was that it? Was a single wolf really my final boss?

The thing is, of course, that I’ve now got to get back out of the swamp in one piece… But having killed or befriended everyone I met on the way here, it’s a fairly easy stroll back, with only a bite by some leeches and a third encounter with the bloody Sword Trees to speak of. And then… that’s it. Selator thanks me, we have a cup of tea and… the end. It’s all curiously subdued, but then, I suppose I wasn’t trying to save Titan from destruction or anything this time. To be honest, it’s just nice to still be on my feet for once. I need to take the wins as they come. Pass the sugar, would you, Selator, old chap?

The Verdict
Seventh gamebook’s a charm – finally I get a win! The series has gotten comfy lately, so it’s nice to have a book which tries to innovate and shake things up a bit, but not everything works the way I suspect it was supposed to.
The three wizards/missions is a great idea, and rewards replayability; but to say Selator’s mission fizzles out at the end is an understatement, and Poomchukker’s (mapping the Swamp) is something you’ll end up doing whoever you serve. I should give Grimslade’s mission another go and see how that plays. It’s great to have the spells back (last seen in Citadel of Chaos), but they seem a bit of an afterthought, not hugely affecting the gameplay (or at least not on this playthrough).
Scorpion Swamp itself, as noted earlier by Barrington, is hardly the no-go zone that it’s made out to be in the blurb. Lots of the encounters seem a bit safe, a bit tame. And I don’t think the art helps here – it’s perfectly good, occasionally more than that, but something about it’s a bit… I don’t know, twee?

Enjoyable, and high replay value, but after four attempts to get to the end, it didn’t really feel worth the effort once I got there. 6.5 combat dice out of 10

Now here's what I call a shut-out! Even Jon Davis-Hunt's Mum would vote for Meltdown Man.

Do you know his dad is/was a message boarder?

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