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The Doomsday Device

(box front)
(book one cover)
(book two cover)
Series: 1 on 1 Adventure Gamebooks #8
Alternate Titles: You Are Doctor Doom (book two title)
You Are Reed Richards and the Fantastic Four (book one title)
Author: Ward, James M.
Illustrators: Butler, Jeffrey (Jeff) (cover)
Jumpstart Studios (interior)
Release Date: 1986
Demian's Thoughts: I'm not a big fan of the superhero genre, but even if I were, I think I would find this to be a subpar entry in the series. At least based on my first play-through, the story lacks focus -- rather than feeling like you are in a desperate struggle against the other player, it just feels like a long string of random unrelated encounters occasionally interrupted by interactions with the other player and ending in a long final fight. It's not awful, but it's not especially satisfying either. Of course, my experience of the book may not be typical: I played a leisurely email-based game that took literally years to complete.

More reviews by Demian

Fireguard's Thoughts: I am something of a superhero fan, although I can't say the Fantastic Four's a group that's ever been able to hold my interest. Maybe that's part of why despite being a fan of the genre, this set failed to be much fun either.

The chaotic nature of the combat and how long fights can last that the other reviewers described is true, but I think a bigger problem lies in a strange dichotomy between the two books.

Theoretically the space leading up to the final battle is filled with both sides trying to capture scientific devices, Dr. Doom trying to get them to make his doomsday weapon more powerful and the Fantastic Four supposedly gathering things to help them fight it more effectively when Doom attacks. The difference is that in Dr. Doom's book, after the pages with his and his minions' character sheets, there's a page dedicated to saying what all those things he's trying to steal do in game terms. The Fantastic Four's book does not have a page like that, nor does it actually say what the device you've managed to acquire does if you do indeed acquire it. This leads to the book prompting you to choose between acquiring some piece of technology to prepare for Dr. Doom's attack or doing your duties as superheroes and fighting other villains in the meantime, but because the items you're getting don't actually do anything the choices are meaningless.

That robs the Fantastic Four book of what I think was supposed to be the dilemma of whether it makes more sense to have a team member patrolling for Dr. Doom or along to help with getting that turn's special device, when there's no point to getting the device. Leading as Demian said to the book just feeling like a series of random events until it's fime for the final battle. As Dr. Doom's book tells you what all these things do, there are legitimate questions that reader faces such as "Another villain is after the same power-up I am. Do I fight him for it, or write it off to have another party member?" and "I've got the power-up I came for, but is it maybe worth sticking around and seeing if I can find some other goodies knowing I'll lose everything if I have to run away?"

Besides all the mechanical problems, the books were obviously written by people with little to no knowledge of the characters with some very irreverent-sounding narration. Like I said I'm no particular fan of the characters in these books myself, but I have a very hard time imagining Dr. Doom thinking "No sense of fun on this guy!" when attacked by another villain he impersonates at one point. He's way too much of a brooding superior intellect. Also, as has been said, Dr. Doom's plan is to conquer Florida?

This set had the potential to be a lot of fun with the two sides trying to thwart each others' attempts to arm themselves for the coming battle, but that just didn't make it into the finished product.

More reviews by Fireguard

SilentGunman's Thoughts: I was always disappointed with The Doomsday Device, and now that I've finished playing The King Takes a Dare with Demian, a gamebook that I think is much better, I'm even more disappointed. The pacing of the book is really slow, mainly because combat takes forever due to armor ratings and the hit/miss nature of the combat table (of course, my chaotic schedule slowing down the email game I played with Demian didn't help either).

I also think that Doom is written very poorly in this book. His ultimate goal (taking over Florida?) seems a bit ridiculous and not true to his character at all. Ultimately, the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom might be a bad fit for this kind of gaming format

If you want to get as complete a series as possible, grab this if you can, but The King Takes a Dare is a better choice.

More reviews by SilentGunman

Users Who Own This Item: Ardennes, B0N0V0X, BarefootJimmy, Barker1952, bookwormjeff, Cloquewerk, CSquared, Ffghtermedic (shrinkwrapped), Fullerton, karalynn, katzcollection, kinderstef, le maudit, mlvoss, Pseudo_Intellectual, SilentGunman, Sir Olli, sireeyore, spragmatic (shrinkwrapped)
Users Who Want This Item: arcaril, bbanzai, exaquint, killagarilla, nelsondesign, NEMO, Nomad, twar, Waluigi Freak 99
Users with Extra Copies: bookwormjeff - 1 w/both books, 1 book 2 only

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