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Doctor Strange: Through Six Dimensions

(American cover)
(British cover)
Series: Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Gamebooks (American) #4
Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Gamebooks (British) #3
Translated Into: Doctor Extrano, hechicero supremo, Viaje por seis dimensiones (Spanish)
Author: Varney, Allen
Illustrators: Butler, Jeffrey (Jeff) (cover)
Nelson, Mark (interior)
Sears, Bart (interior)
Release Date: 1986
Length:258 sections
User Summary: You are Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme of the Earth Dimension. In this adventure, your task is to defend Earth from two alien armies who have chosen it as the new battleground in a centuries-old struggle.
darkatx's Thoughts: Going through the series in order, it is safe to say that Doctor Strange: Through Six Dimensions is among the very best. This gamebook has so much going for it. Strong story and complementary art as well as numerous endings giving it high replay value.

By now, you may realize I always mention the artwork in every gamebook review. This is no exception. Actually, the artist Bart Sears is exceptional but the artwork, while very good, is not great! The inker, Mark Nelson - a fine artist in his own right, completely erases any signature of Bart's work and that is a shame. (On a side note, you can compare the previous Wolverine gamebook, where all art duties were exclusively handled by Bart Sears, to this one.) Now this does not diminish the overall quality of the gamebook in any way. Consider this mere minor nitpicking.

The story quickly sets the tone for the Sorcerer Supreme journey and thrusts the reader straight into the fray on a grand multi-dimensional scale. Countless forks in the road lie ahead, all leading to numerous optimal outcomes, a rarity in any gamebook. I found the pacing of the story excellent and the gameplay logical. Plenty of Karma can be accrued in the early stages and it is much needed for the latter rounds. The challenge level is moderate and not too many hard checks involved. This is one of the few books where the characterization is dead on. Even a small cameo from another super-hero that had no bearing on the story still served as a modest form of entertaining insight into the Marvel world. This sort of attention to detail from Allen Varney is admirable!

No time will be wasted enjoying this title and hours of fun will be had in order to unravel all the many positive endings this gamebook has to offer. Doctor Strange: Through Six Dimensions is indeed a winner!

More reviews by darkatx

Guillermo's Thoughts: (review based on the Spanish translation)

While the quality of previous entries in the series ranges from low to average, this book is, without exaggeration, one of the best gamebooks I've ever read. It seems sort of a weird choice to pick this as the best book in the series, since the player character is less well-known than those appearing in other books. However, the choice of Doctor Strange as a player character is excellent, since the setting for his adventures is not a modern-day world with costumed supervillains, but rather a science-fantasy where magic, technology and interdimensional travel are combined to form a very effective whole.

While Allen Varney wrote this book for TSR, throughout his career he has been most closely associated with Steve Jackson Games, and so the influence of earlier gamebooks by the American Steve Jackson (like Scorpion Swamp and Robot Commando) can be found in this book's design. As the title implies, there are six dimensional planes to explore in this adventure, and the player has complete freedom of movement between them. This gamebook has more in common with fantasy gamebooks than with typical superhero adventures: there is much exploration work to do and plenty of optional subquests to solve, there is a selection of spells to use, and the player must keep track of items and pieces of information obtained through the journey. Choices are well thought-out and interesting, so that the book manages to be challenging without being frustrating. The backdrop of interdimensional war between alien races, the complexity and detail of the setting, the atmosphere created by the interaction with magical and mystical forces, and the many opportunities for complex character interaction are some of the main reasons I consider this book to be a winner.

Another plus factor is that this book does not have just one 'optimal' ending. There is a lot of replay value since there are many ways to solve the adventure, each one depending on the subquests the player chooses to follow. Moreover, finding all endings is stimulating since they are very well-written and exciting, and they can have wildly varying cosmic-scale consequences on the gameworld. There are also some endings where political reflection takes primacy, and the author manages to convey a pacifist message in a clever way: the way a new civilization will be built will depend on how well the player leads a revolutionary group based on her / his decisions.

It should also be noted that while there is a luck factor involved in solving this adventure, strategy is much more important, so the book gets points for good gameplay as well.

I have only a minor complaint, and it's about the artwork. While most illustrations by Bart Sears and Mark Nelson are good (though some are a bit amateurish), the book feels like it could have done with a bit more drawings. Of course, this appreciation is just a testimony of the gameworld being so rich and complex that it deserves a more throughout graphic treatment.

Overall, this is an interesting, exciting and original gamebook which asks nothing of the best British entries and is definitely worth seeking out. It's only a shame most other titles in this series couldn't match this level of quality.

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary.
Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes (US), B0N0V0X, bigcobra, bookwormjeff, Braldt, crazydave, Crazyscotsman, darkatx, dArtagnan, dave2002a, domj29, Ed (#3 UK), edwebb (#3 UK), Fireguard, Gibraltar, hoops4ever, katzcollection (American and British editions), killagarilla, kinderstef, knginatl (US), le maudit, Malthus Dire, mlvoss, mrwalker, nelsondesign, odo_ital, plowboy, Sabreman (UK), Sir Olli, sireeyore, toxtethogradyworlds, Treguard, twar (US), Uraniborg (# 3 UK), Yalius, Zolika
Users Who Want This Item: BobaGabe (very good gamebook), breity, Darth Rabbitt, Ebichuman, Egghead Nurse, Gartax, NEMO, nerelax, Pseudo_Intellectual
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