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Item - The Forest of Twisted Dreams

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(American cover)
(British cover)
Series: Wizards, Warriors & You — no. 1
Translated Into: El bosque de los sueños que desorientan (Spanish)
De farlige drømmes skov (Danish)
La Forêt des rêves maudits (French)
Nejikureta akumu no mori [ねじくれた悪夢の森] (Japanese)
Author: Stine, R. L.
Illustrators: Norem, Earl (interior and American cover)
Kirby, Josh (British cover)
Date: August, 1984
ISBNs: 0380880474 / 9780380880478 (American edition)
0552522821 / 9780552522823 (British edition)
Length: 103 pages
Number of Endings: 15 (not counting conditional failure)
User Summary: The recently-won Magic Helmet of Cornwall has been stolen by giants, and you must travel through the mysterious Forest of Twisted Dreams to retrieve it.
amesgames's Thoughts:

A 1984 fantasy novel in the CYOA style. The difference here is you choose to be a either a warrior or a wizard. Depending on which class you choose, the adventure plays out totally differently. A warrior must use weapons to survive, whereas the wizard uses spells. That's an interesting angle to approach the series from. This book was written for kids, but is still amusing enough for an adult to enjoy. Some of the choices are insanely arbitrary (you can lose simply for reading the book on the wrong day of the week?!), and overall it's not hard to get a good ending. I found this to be a decent bit of fantasy fluff, but it doesn't reach higher than merely being potboiler.

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Demian's Thoughts:

This is an enjoyable but flawed book. The writing is sometimes atmospheric and sometimes cheesy, and the gameplay is interesting but far too luck-based. While deciding which spells or weapons to use is always an interesting challenge, it tends to come down to the flip of a coin (or several coins) no matter what choice is made. If there were more of a game system in place, this might be acceptable, but as it is, there's far too much starting over, following the same path, and just hoping for better luck. Worse than all the flipping, though, is the fact that victory for the Wizard depends on what time of day and day of the week it is while the player is reading -- if it's the wrong day and time, failure is inevitable. This is a pointless barrier to victory, and it detracts from enjoyment of the book. Of course, all is not lost, since even when the Wizard's path is blocked, the Warrior's is not (with adequate luck), and both paths lead to the same ending anyway. Not surprisingly, the option of playing two different characters makes replay value fairly high, though there aren't quite enough options to prevent things from getting tedious what with the high death rate inherent in the story's dependence on lucky coin tosses.

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Kveto's Thoughts:

This is a poor start to the series.

Your mission is to recover the helmet of Cornwall, a magical McGuffin stolen by some giants living beyond the Forest of Twisted Dreams. At the start, you may be a wizard, who has a variety of spells as options, or a warrior, who can choose from a selection of weapons to bring.

Whichever you choose, the other character will accompany you; however, your partner will be completely useless, making me wonder why they don't just send you on your own. I suppose sending the companion gives you a chance for dialogue, of which there is little.

On the wizard's path, you are offered no choices beyond which spells to use. All of the other "choices" are nothing but coin flips, random number selection, or based on the day of the week you are reading to determine if you spells work. It really has no sense of enjoyment.

The warrior's options are not much better, based on which weapons you have randomly selected and the same coin flipping "system".

And a very minor quibble, but the "morning star" is described as a spiked ball on a chain, but is not technically a morning star (which has no chain) but a military flail.

Overall, a very disappointing start to the series.

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utfanatic's Thoughts:

One of the more basic gamebooks you will come across.

This one can be summed up in a few words: short and luck-based

In service to King Henry, you are observing the Games when the famed Helmet of Cornwall is stolen from the King by Giants. You are tasked with retrieving it. Choose to be either the legendary Wizard or Warrior. If Wizard, an array of spells is made available. If Warrior, a number of mighty weapons are yours to choose from.

This book can be completed in under a half hour. The book is incredibly short and your choices center around which weapons or spells to use. You are only given the choice of a very few of your spells or weapons during each choice.

What's more, the results of your choices depend on luck: either choosing a random number, flipping a coin, or worst of all.... what day and time it happens to be. Playing the Wizard on a Tuesday morning? You're up a creek my man!

On the (possibly) plus side, the book is very easy to begin and get into, immediately immersing you in the story and not spending time with instructions on gameplay. As well, giving players the choice of playing wizard or warrior increases replayability and is a nice twist. Writing is nothing special, but not bad by any means.

However, this is sacrificed at the expense of incredibly simple gameplay and a dearth of choices.

All in all, a good intro book for those getting into gamebooks, but not all that entertaining for this bug.

Rating 1-10: 4

More reviews by utfanatic

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