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Author Topic: Gamebooks  (Read 13247 times)

Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #525 on: 23 September, 2022, 01:21:56 PM »
I'm glad you finished it! I remember the Time Serpent bring much harder to beat than that, so much so that I thought it was the hardest of the four books!  I don't know if I just struggled to find the correct route or if the Past Light Towers weren't in the book (I don't remember them, but it's been about 20 years 🤷‍♂️). You seem to be indestructible!

Though it didn't seem like it in the write-up, the middle section of the game (the Forest/Marsh/Steppes) took me aaaaaaaages. I haven't used the 'rewind' function much up until now, but there was a section I tried again, and again, and again with increasing frustration - in the present, the second Past Light tower was impassable and I just couldn't work out how to get into it (and until I did, there was no discovery of the 'fast travel' system and no lightbulb moment, not to mention no fixing of the bridge).

@jamesfeistdraws

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #526 on: Today at 01:45:15 PM »
Rebel Planet

Another brand new one for me!

There's a long and detailed intro to the book describing the setup, which is basically that Earth has been subjugated by The Arcadian Empire and as the protagonist I'm a hand-picked special agent to stop this happening - so presumably the titular rebel planet is Earth! The Arcadians are a sort of reptilian hive mind race and have some kind of Krool-heart-esque computer that controls them all so all I have to do is blow it up and Earth is saved. This doesn't make sense really. Even dafter, the code to get to the computer is held by three rebel agents on three separate planets so I have to go visit them all. I know where the first one is but basically nothing about the other two. Ok....
Unlike the other sci-fi books there aren't loads of special rules for guns or space combat because humans aren't allowed any guns (all I have is a secret sword) but I am Way of the Tiger-like badass who can kill someone with a single blow, giving me a 1/6 chance of an instant kill should I ever be in a fistfight.

My super space ninja lands on the first planet, Tropos, which is a police state. Looking not to draw attention I take a cab to my assigned crappy human hotel instead of the meeting point, thinking I will slip out later. This backfires a bit when an Arcadian comes into the dorm and tries to kill another human, so I kill him and flee with my new mate, who I end up killing as well when he turns out to be a criminal who was going to turn me in. I do kill him with one blow though using the unarmed combat rules. Avenger would be proud!
Eventually I sneakily reach the rendezvous - a sleazy bar called Fission Chips - where I make contact with the rebels. They're incredibly paranoid, as you'd expect from a subjugated race living in a police state, and there's a lot of questions. I decide to play it totally straight with them and do exactly as they ask until they ask me to kill one of their cell: by refusing I show my 'human compassion' (which is a bit Star Trek) and they give me the code, sort of. Turns out they don't know the code, just a song that helps Arcadians remember the code. I haven't got a clue what this means, so like the dutiful freedom fighter I am I make a note of the paragraph number and decide to worry about it later.

It's time to leave Tropos and head for planet number 2. Under Arcadian rule Humans aren't allowed carry certain items, and when I assassinated the human criminal, I declined to take a load of his gear, so I manage to blag my way through customs and off Tropos. Radix is a much more relaxed place, with humans able to attend human universities and own businesses, but nevertheless I don;t draw attention to myself and stay at the scummiest place available ('Porkys') where I learn the relaxed atmosphere is something of a facade as there's some kind of battle robot that the authorities use to break up human demos. With a sinking feeling that I'll be seeing that later I head off the university to eavesdrop and end up meeting the second contact, the lecturer Professor Zacharias. He says he'll give me the code after his lecture - he asks if I want to attend but I make a mistake here and decide to go for a cup of coffee instead and when I come back the Prof has knocked off for the evening. I head back to Porkys, but I'm followed: I dodge the Arcadians and unsurprisingly they unleash the killer robot, called STREET FIGHTER, which sadly does not attack with Hadoukens but does use a sort of sonic boom, which means it's damage increases per hit - 2 stamina for the first successful attack, 3 for the second and so on. I have a weedy stamina and am in a bit of a panic, but my blows can do skill or stamina damage to it, so I spend a few rounds reducing it's skill from 9 to 5 by wrecking its guidance system and then make short work of it before going back to the hotel for dinner.
The next morning, I head back to meet the Prof only to find out he has been arrested for being the leader of the underground. I'm arrested too soon after, but the Prof leaves me a visual clue in the page art. Again this means nothing to me so I make another note of the paragraph.
Under arrest on Radix I deny being part of the underground... and am immediately executed. GAME OVER. This sucks, so I go again and admit to being part of the underground which means I qualify for some kind of gladiatorial contest which, if I win, I go free. This is clearly nonsense but it's a way out! I first have to navigate a 'one door is death the other is ok' but where my insistence with always going left saves my bacon, and to cut a long story short I kill some monsters and the Arcadians let me go like the chumps they are.

The third planet, Halmuris, is a hostile wasteland where nighttime sub-zero temperatures mean death. I have no weapon at this point and reduced skill due to the planets unfavorable gravity: on landing I try to acquire a new sword from the black market and end up killing more humans and setting the place one fire, although I do get a sword and a random roll also gives me some wirecutters. My first task is to navigate a huge fence where I'm asked if I picked up the wirecutters or a jet pack. DOH.
Once outside I know I need to head North East but also need to survive the freezing temperatures, so I take shelter in what turns out to be a carnivorous plant and nearly get digested. Now on pathetic stamina I wander haplessly lost until I encounter a weird telepathic light that asks me for a 'zplaran' before transforming into a huge demon and killing me immediately when I don't have one.
I'm a bit cheesed off by this weird death so I rewind a few paragraphs and try a different path. This time I battle some of the local fauna, get brutally bitten by a giant rat after shoving my hand into it's den and find a weird brightly coloured stick. The path then leads me back to the weird light, to which I offer the stick and it promptly tells me my contact is a guy named Dorado and gives me the password to talk to him. If this all sounds like it makes no sense - don't worry, it doesn't.
I eventually reach the facility where Dorado is based, only to find it's under attack. I take more stamina damage (by now my stamina is well into single figures) but Dorado gives me the final bit of the code... or does he? he just tells me the whole code is a palindrome.

From here I rush off to planet Arcadion to use the code 'info' I have acquired. There are two Arcadians on my ship and one of them knocks on my door late at night, which I ignore only to get another GAME OVER paragraph. WTF... I rewind again, open the door, and by a strange sequence of events end up wired up to an Arcadian mind control machine where an Arcadian scientist is trying to essentially bring me (and after that, all humans) into the hive mind. The book here switches to a sort of Neuromancer type scenario where I must defeat monsters to simulate my struggle with the machine. After each win the machine offers me some pitifully obvious-trap rewards, so I ignore them all and push on, eventually mind wiping the Arcadian and getting the door code to the main computer room basement.

Finally, Aracadion. I leave the ship in a rush before the Arcadians are discovered and head straight for the main computer. Here I'm asked for the three bits of the code: 9 binary digits. With this info I can go back and with a bit of puzzling work out the three previous clues. This bit is absolutely ingenious and I was very impressed with it!
Once inside I'm offered the chance to go straight to the computer or visit the basement: I've got the code, so I pop down and it turns out to be full of weapons. I swipe a gun and some plastic explosive, gun down the guards and blow up the computer. VICTORY!

What a load of fun nonsense this book was. As most of the previous sci-fi ones have been terrible I didn't have high hopes, but overall it was great to play, although not without issue: the start is definitely the best bit with the player involved in cloak and dagger operations in a sort of alien Soviet Union, with careful thought and characterful decisions rewarding you with the best results. After that there's a steady decline in quality and increase in rushed-ness and by the time you hit planet number three there's a lot of  'do you go left or right' choices and a several auto-deaths. The bit with the sentient light and the stick is pure nonsense and the last planet is a total rush job as you basically land at the computer, go in and blow it up. And let's not start on the whole hive mind / computer concept itself: the aliens show no sign at all of being hive-mind-y whatsoever and the whole thing is an obvious, and weak, macguffin for you to be able to blow up a single object and save the galaxy. A more thematic option would be something like releasing a spore that kills them all off, but I can see why the book wanted to avoid genocide or anything along those lines and went with a big 'make them all friendly' button. The whole ending though felt very rushed - even the final paragraph is a bit 'yay! you win' although not as bad as Space Assassin.
Criticisms aside the rest was cool. The binary puzzle, and the way it was hidden (especially in the illustration) was both very unqiue and very clever (and surely far to tricky for a child to work out). The artwork is superb throughout and the tone is not too serious whilst not being too silly at the same time. I felt it didn't lean too hard into the sci-fi nature of things - no guns etc felt weird but nicely simplified things, and aside from a few bits the whole thing could have been set in a fantasy type setting with minimal changes. Well worth playing imo and a very pleasant surprise.
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Dark Jimbo

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #527 on: Today at 02:13:31 PM »
@jamesfeistdraws

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #528 on: Today at 03:05:16 PM »
Forgot to mention this book is very generous on stamina recovery - every time you eat or sleep you get some back, and you recover half your initial stamina each time to fly to a new planet.
I started with a high skill and low stamina and without this I'd have been well dead. High Skill is essential for this as there's a ton of skill tests (including a vital one to learn how to beat the Street Fighter)
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Richard

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Re: Gamebooks
« Reply #529 on: Today at 04:43:38 PM »
Good write-up! I laughed at the wirecutters/ jet pack bit.

I agree with your view that the first planet is the best. I'd rather that bit had been bigger and one of the other planets been skipped altogether. Overall it's a fun book though.

I don't have FF 19, but I'm just about to start FF 20: Sword of the Samurai by the authors of Way of the Tiger.