By James A Holme

reddogWell, it start­ed with The War­lock of Fire­top Moun­tain and end­ed with the games con­sole but is any­body else still han­ker­ing for that long dis­pelled thrill of the choose your adven­ture / fight­ing fan­ta­sy style gamebook?

Well, with the advance­ment of mobile phone apps, they are mak­ing a big come­back and a new gen­er­a­tion are enjoy­ing the retro thrills of an adven­ture where there are the star of the show.

But that’s not what I want to talk about here. Yes, they were fun at the time, but they have had their day. Haven’t they?

Appar­ent­ly not as there is a new explo­sion of writ­ers out there who have re opened pan­do­ra’s box with the belief that despite new poly­gon push­ing proces­sors on our HD screens, there is yet to be a con­sole with wiring as com­plex and capa­ble of imag­in­ing pal­pa­ble sci­ence fic­tion as our very own brains. Well, most of our brains.

I trawled the inter­net for a high scor­ing game­book I could get my hands on (yes, my actu­al hands, not at the oth­er end of a gamepad) and I found a wealth of choice. The best of which was from Sand­box­er Books who are new to the game and boy oh boy was I hap­py I picked it up! The orig­i­nal Fight­ing Fan­ta­sy Books were an open pit in which I poured hours of my child­hood, each span­ning 400 ‘chap­ters’ but this one is 530 long pas­sages. It is huge. I got a lot of enjoy­ment out of it. I spent a lot of time with it. Now I need more.

It is called RED DOG and is by author Chris Young, appar­ent­ly his first for­age into this genre (at least that I could find.) Now, this is a ‘choose your adven­ture’ with a dif­fer­ence. Ever snuck back under the cov­er of dark­ness to your child­hood and had anoth­er bite of the Fight­ing Fan­ta­sy cher­ry? Well this adven­ture is writ­ten bet­ter, is longer and free roam­ing. You heard it here folks. You are not forced down the gar­den path this time on a lin­ear adven­ture. You can go where you like. It real­ly is like hav­ing anoth­er world in your pock­et. That is if you have clowns pock­ets because if you want a copy you had bet­ter have a tall book­case. Its 9 by 6 inches!

Here’s the specs:-

”This is not the Earth you remem­ber. Dragged from the present and into this dark and dan­ger­ous future, you have total free­dom to uncov­er the hid­den secrets of Earth, space sta­tion ‘Eden’ and the mys­te­ri­ous Black­bird Facil­i­ty. Uncov­er a deter­mined threat to the free­dom of mankind and take your part in the rev­o­lu­tion. The future is in your hands. RED DOG: A com­plete Fan­ta­sy Role Play­ing Game. Free Roam­ing * A Huge 530 pas­sages of Text * An Expan­sive Uni­verse Set Over Three Worlds * Detailed Illus­tra­tions, Maps and Plans * No Dice — Rely On Your Wits and Courage * Search Every Cor­ner of the RED DOG Uni­verse * Deep­er Inter­ac­tions — Talk to Any­one You Meet * Get an Advan­tage and Upgrade With Bio Implant Tech­nol­o­gy * A New Gen­er­a­tion of RPG For A New Gen­er­a­tion of Gamers.”

Give it a blast and help me put pres­sure on these guys to write anoth­er! Here is my review on Amazon:

I bought this because I used to be into the Fight­ing Fan­ta­sy ‘Choose your adven­ture’ books and thought I’d try it out. The mecha on the front is cool. The book com­plete­ly blew me away. I real­ly was­n’t expect­ing to get so drawn into it, it’s a real­ly deep sort of expe­ri­ence and I like the way you start off with no mem­o­ry of how you got there and it all gets explained on the way.

Com­pared to the books I read as a kid, it’s much more chal­leng­ing and a hell of a lot big­ger too. Its a big book. The pic­tures are great though I would have liked to see more of them and the game­play is quite dif­fer­ent from the FF books but I think it’s for adults.

There are no dice. I nev­er used dice any­way so I did­n’t miss that. It uses a kind of code sys­tem so you will need a pen­cil to write them down. For exam­ple, at one point I got a ‘Stealth’ chip implant­ed in my brain so I could use it any­where and basi­cal­ly dis­ap­pear. The way you can go back to places you already vis­it­ed and use it is cool. You add the code to the page to use ‘Stealth’ which means you are not lim­it­ed in how or where you use it. This gives you plen­ty of free­dom and means that you can do what you want.

There much more free­dom rather than being lin­ear. I just wan­dered around, search­ing for stuff. There are books hid­den all over the place which are all one sto­ry and it’s fun to find them and read them. It’s all con­nect­ed and makes it reward­ing to look around. And anoth­er thing I liked was that I did­n’t get killed off for some­thing that was­n’t my fault. The mecha is cool. You have to learn how to con­trol it which is a great idea but I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say give it a go.

Over­all, I high­ly rec­om­mend it. Def­i­nite­ly a big leap from the old school books. I want­ed to get anoth­er one but this is the only one I could find by these guys, hope­ful­ly they’ll release anoth­er one I’d def­i­nite­ly play it.”

So there you have it guys. I’ll be email­ing Sand­box­er if I can find them and peti­tion­ing a sec­ond book. Read this and you’ll be doing the same!

Keep on keep­ing on folks