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Item - Metal City Mayhem

Series: Sonic the Hedgehog Adventure Gamebooks — no. 1
Author: Wallis, James
Illustrators: Russell, Chris (full-page art)
Rawling, Keith (filler art)
Date: 1993
ISBN: 0140903917 / 9780140903911
Length: 300 sections
Number of Endings: 7 (not including defeat by loss of lives)
User Summary: Sonic gets distracted by a tough Game Gear game, and while he's not looking, all of his friends are kidnapped. This is particularly frustrating because he really wants to consult with one of his buddies on how to beat the final boss.
Demian's Thoughts: I'm a big fan of James Wallis thanks to his brilliant Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen competitive role-playing game; thus, I was eager to try this book, even though the Sonic the Hedgehog theme kind of frightened me. As it turns out, the book is a mix of wonderful and not-so-wonderful elements. First, the good: despite seeming like it was going to be condescending and cheesy at first, the writing turned out to be pretty decent. It's written in third-person, present tense, but the "third wall" is frequently broken, with Sonic talking back to the reader from time to time. There's also a fairly funny running gag in the conversation options when Sonic encounters other characters. Because of its somewhat irreverent, self-referential attitude, the book actually reminded me of the Tiny Toon Adventures TV series, which was just about its contemporary. Other positives are the game system, which is simple but effective, and the successful integration of video game elements and overall logic into the text (mentions of background music, a bonus stage for high scorers at the end, and so forth). The book does have problems, however. The art is less than inspiring (Sonic's tone demands bright colors, and black and white line drawings just look flat), the mission is very linear (though not frustratingly so), and there are a number of points where rules issues become confusing. The book tends to make you loop back a lot (after dying, mostly, but also after making some non-fatal mistakes), yet it doesn't really address what happens to items that were picked up and enemies that were defeated -- I was frequently unsure whether I should erase items from my inventory or whether it was necessary to fight the same old foes again. This seriously detracted from my gameplay experience, as I didn't feel quite satisfied when I finally won -- the uncertainty of whether or not I had accidentally cheated after losing lives and otherwise being sent back prevented me from feeling proud of my efforts. Still, despite its problems, this is a solid gamebook, and better than you might expect from the subject matter. It's worth a look.

My High Score - 56 rings

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Errata:The "Cool Looks" attribute on the character sheet should actually read "Good Looks."
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Play Aid

Sonic the Hedgehog #1 Character Sheet