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Item - Secret Agent A.C.E.

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Series: Stephen Thraves Compact Adventure Gamebooks — no. 4
Translated Into: Agente secreto A.C.E. (Spanish)
Missione in montagna (Italian)
Taen agent A.C. [Таен агент А. С.] (Bulgarian)
Author: Thraves, Stephen
Illustrator: Rees, Gary
Date: 1993
ISBN: 0340588802 / 9780340588802
Length: 168 sections plus introduction
Number of Endings: 1 (not counting failure by loss of Survival points)
User Summary: The evil Dr. Diamond has developed a formula that reduces world leaders to childish behavior. You must infiltrate his mountain hideout and destroy all six flasks of the stuff before it's too late!
Demian's Thoughts:

The secret agent genre isn't used all that much in gamebooks, but apart from that minor novelty, this is very much par for the course. Gameplay consists of several repeating scenarios: guess which way to flick a switch to disable a security system (unless you have an item that tells you); guess which item from a set of three is booby-trapped (unless you have an item that tells you); guess which map quandrant to visit (unless you actually have a map); guess the password that lets you destroy a flask of formula (with a 25% chance of success, and no logic or clues to help). There are a few choices that involve more thought than making a random guess, and these help you avoid injury or find items, but this doesn't prevent the adventure from being an almost totally linear progression from flask to flask, with the location of each successive flask being revealed in a similarly contrived fashion. Those guards just love blurting out clues! All paths (apart from death by loss of Survival points) lead to the same kind of unsatisfying ending found in Shadows of Doom -- either you destroyed enough flasks or you didn't, but there's not even a special paragraph to describe the results of victory.

This is a quick read, and I admit that I found it at least mildly diverting... but very little thought was put into its design, and it has no real merit except as mindless fluff. Read it if you have nothing better to do or just desperately want to play James Bond for about an hour, but don't go out of your way to do it -- there's definitely better entertainment to be found.

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Special Thanks:Thanks to Braldt Haak for the cover scan.
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