Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review «

Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review

Share it:Tweet Way back in 1980, a year after the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series appeared, came Fighting Fantasy, a series of “gamebooks” that melds pen-and-paper RPGs and the mechanic central to “Choose Your Own Adventure” — picking your path through a story.
The series is in the middle of a relaunch, which also includes a videogame. The first videogame based on the series, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, is an adaptation of the first Fighting Fantasy story, where the hero seeks to defeat an evil warlock.

Click the image above to check out all Fighting Fantasy screens.
I played some of the book before writing my review. I’m impressed by its concept (and when my “in development” child is old enough, I may introduce him to the series), but it certainly seems better suited to a preteen than an aging geek. But as a game, it fails on every level — the story barely exists, and its controls are so convoluted that I can’t imagine anyone enjoying it.

The game’s concept makes no sense. The books offer you choices. Good RPGs offer choices as well, but this game boils the books down to a basic dungeon crawl that doesn’t give you any sense of choice. You explore a bland dungeon, gathering uninteresting treasure and fighting equally boring foes.

The game offers a first-person perspective, like The Elder Scrolls. You control your player with a combo of stylus commands, the D-pad, and the bumper and face buttons. You move with the D-pad, point your character up or down with the face buttons, use your primary weapon or spell with a bumper, and use your other spells, weapons, and items with the stylus.

Click the image above to check out all Fighting Fantasy screens.
Now, just imagine you’re in combat, firing off spells with the bumpers while trying to aim with the face buttons and move your character on the D-pad and healing yourself with the stylus — all at once. Does that sound like fun? As designed, the controls are a juggling act. If I were 13 and trying to play this, I would throw my DS across the room in frustration. Hell, I nearly did as a 35-year-old riding on public transit.

The DS game doesn’t capture any of the magic inherent in Fighting Fantasy’s formula. Instead of an adventure packed with mystery and excitement, the series’ first videogame provides a dull story and frustrating controls in a generic dungeon crawl wrapper. It’s a shame, because I remember enjoying the “Choose Your Own Adventure” style so much as a kid, and I bet that formula could make for a great game.


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