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Knightmare: Can You Beat the Challenge?

Series: Knightmare #1
Authors: Child, Tim
Morris, Dave
Illustrator: Rowe, David (uncredited)
Release Date: 1988
ISBN: 0552525405 / 9780552525404
Length:101 pages (novella), 105 sections (gamebook)
Number of Endings:34 (not including passages which only result in death under certain circumstances)
User Summary: In the novella, Treguard the Saxon battles to reclaim his ancestral home and to defend England from an ancient evil. In the gamebook, the reader goes on three missions in the Knightmare dungeon.
Demian's Thoughts: The novella portion of this book is quite good, a well-written fantasy quest which presumably provides some interesting background information on the characters from the television show (which I've never seen, unfortunately). The gamebook isn't nearly as interesting as the novella, though this is not necessarily the fault of the authors. From what I've heard of the show, it seems as if this book is about as good a representation as could be written; unfortunately, participating in a simulation of a TV game show just isn't as interesting as playing a good old-fashioned gamebook, and the quests end up feeling both repetitive and overly simple. The adventure does have its good points, however. The way it makes use of information from the novella makes reading the whole book satisfying, and there are some interesting design elements: the cheater trap in section 44 is kind of amusing, as is the unreachable "Easter Egg" section (reference 42, in case you're wondering). A few death scenes also raise a chuckle. The only real flaw of the gameplay (apart from its excessive simplicity) is the fact that the Life Force Clock is a bit confusing to keep track of. Fortunately, Life Force is used differently in later volumes in the series to make things less ambiguous.

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Fireguard's Thoughts: The novella portion of the book was quite well-written, surprising considering it was meant as a tie-in to a somewhat cheesy children's game show. The interactive portion feels every bit as random and corny as the show that spawned it, which was probably what they were going for so I can't fault it too much for that. The rules for the game portion were sometimes murky, particularly when it came to carrying items between levels. When descending to a lower level you're required to clear everything out of your inventory, UNLESS an object is magical, but the only way you'll know that is when you're offered the chance to use that item in the lower level. Still as I said, the novel portion is strong, and fans of the show will (or have) probably track this book down anyway despite the relative weakness of the second part.

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