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Item - Labyrinth

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(revised edition)

Series: Tunnels and Trolls — no. 3
Platform: Adobe Acrobat
Translated Into: Labyrinth (German)
Adapted Into: Labyrinth (Digital Gamebook)
Author: Russell, Lee
Illustrators: Danforth, Elizabeth (Liz) T. (original cover)
Talbot, James (reissue cover)
Date: 1977
Length: 30 pages (1980 revised edition)
castiglione's Thoughts:

Labyrinth was a bit of an odd bird. Most of the early Tunnels & Trolls solitaire adventures took place in the "official" game universe which was vaguely Tolkienesque with orcs, balrogs, dragons and nice little hobbitses running around. This adventure took its inspiration from Greek mythology, and as such, there is not a single orc or other Middle-Earth'esque denizen to be found, although there were plenty of other nasties to be encountered.

Labyrinth begins with you being led to the entrance of the Labyrinth by a Cretan soldier. Is your motivation for entering this potentially hazardous maze explained? Nope. Did I care? Nope. Nowadays, if I was told that I had the chance to enter a maze stuffed with monsters drawn from Greek mythology INCLUDING the Minotaur AS WELL as the major Greek Gods and that many of them would probably try to kill me, I'd probably ask you what my motivation would be for entering such a death-trap. Back when I was a kid, my response would've been to say: Hey, that sounds like FUN!

And it was.

Labyrinth is yet ANOTHER "dungeon crawl." You enter the maze and then attempt to safely escape (and hopefully end up richer for the experience). In populating the Labyrinth, the adventure's author not only drew on the legend of the Minotaur but he also stuffed in probably EVERY story out of Greek mythology that I was familiar with at the time. The result is an adventure that is a little bit bizarre; you could wander through the maze (which was underground) and suddenly find yourself observing Daedalus and Icarus about to hurl themselves out a window (high above the ground!) with feathers glued to their arms... or find yourself suddenly in a meadow with followers of Dionysos partying it up. My memory may be playing games with me, but I think I even wound up exchanging places with Sisyphus (and wound up spending my remaining days rolling a gigantic boulder up a hill... underground... in a labyrinth), and I'm pretty sure I also wound up chained to some rocks and was doomed to spend my entire life having scavenging birds feed on my entrails everyday and NOT die (underground... in a labyrinth). Add to that the threat of the "wandering monsters" (the major Greek Gods AND the Minotaur) which could show up at any time (Ares was particularly funny - apparently, the Greeks viewed their God of War as being a bit of a bully who ran when the going got tough), and you had a pretty odd adventure in which the story that develops around your character is so random that it would be right at home in The Arabian Nights. Nonetheless, at the time I actively played Tunnels & Trolls, I LOVED this adventure, which had probably more to do with its Greek setting than anything else. I have the feeling I would still like it, but more so for the rather "unique" psychedelic experience than for the reasons I originally liked this adventure so much.

P.S.: The Minotaur is an utter brute in this adventure (MR 80!!!!). Basically, if you run into him (which, thankfully, is not too likely to occur), you are probably going to die a (mercifully) quick death. Which, I suppose, is quite consistent with the Greek mythos.

More reviews by castiglione

Special Thanks:Thanks to Ed Jolley for the cover scan.
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