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Item - Misión Alfa Centauro


Series: Editorial Andrés Bello: Science Fiction Gamebooks — no. 78
Alternate Title: Mission: Alpha Centauri (literal English translation of title)
Authors: Balcells, Jacqueline (Marty Aboitiz de)
Güiraldes (Camerati), Ana María
Balcells, Alberto I.
Illustrator: Jullian, Andrés
Date: 1988
ISBN: 9561311887 / 9789561311886
Length: 136 pages (plus a 4-page activity supplement)
Number of Endings: 10 (nine failures plus one successful ending led to from three places)
User Summary: It's one hundred years after the evil creatures from the previous volume were defeated. Now, the overpopulation of Earth, Mars and Venus has forced a group of colonists to travel to a new, hospitable planet in the Alpha Centauri constellation to find out whether it can be a new home for mankind. For that purpose, an enormous ship called the Alondra is prepared, transporting several families, plus plant and animal specimens, on board. After four years in space, a strange virus which only affects grown-ups forces all adults on board to go into hibernation, leaving the children alone to pilot the ship to its destination for the following two years. You are twelve year-old Camilo, the son of the ship's captain, and the ship's computer chooses you as the next captain....
Guillermo's Thoughts: Found the plot summary interesting? Well, it's just about the only interesting aspect of this book, so you can skip it without regret. I must say that, despite my disappointment with the first book, I had somewhat high hopes for this one, if only because it has more pages. However, the extra space is used without any real skill. About the only good things which can be said about this book is that it's not as frustratingly linear as the first entry and that the choices are not as obvious. There is still only one succesful ending, but there are different paths to reach it, so a person can at least be motivated to find them all. Despite this, the book's gameplay feels far worse than that of its predecessor. Because of its size and format, it closely resembles a Star Challenge book, and I was hoping it would have the same level of action and variety in it. Alas, I was wrong. It's not another ultra-linear quest, but it's nothing good either.

Put broadly, the book is just a collection of random, unexplained encounters and events which change wildly depending on your decisions (and have little to do with the actual goal of the adventure). The story itself is so boring and silly that there is no point in describing it; in fact, the only things which are really worth discussing about this book are its unusual features. One of the two first options you can choose in this book leads to a series of diverging paths which all end up in failure. This is an extremely bad design practice: I much prefer gamebooks where each conglomerate of paths offers at least one chance of victory. Doesn't that make sense? Poncio, the pet robot from the previous adventure, appears in this one as well, but his participation in the story ranges from none to very little (once again, depending on the choices you make).

Don't be deceived into thinking this book offers a detailed account of a two-year journey. It all revolves around having two or three completely unexplained encounters immediately after your job as captain begins, and after that the remainder of the trip is described in two or three pages of text, without anything of note happening (and this only if you're lucky. Some of the victorious paths skip the journey completely and lead you directly to the end, which makes for a confusing read). Lastly, if you're wondering why there's a metal sword and a castle on the front cover, I'll tell you the book has a fantasy medieval sequence, in which you must enter a virtual reality game (though the term "Virtual Reality" is never used here; the technology is simply described as a more advanced form of cinema) and you get to choose to become (you guessed it) either a knight or a wizard's apprentice. This leaves me puzzled for two reasons. First, it amazes me that the authors could, in 1988, at least portray the capabilities of Virtual Reality technology. Secondly, the resemblance to the Wizards, Warriors and You series is clear, even though this series was not very well-known in the Spanish-speaking world. However, the "choose to become the wizard or the warrior" ripoff may seem too obvious to go unnoticed. The fantasy sequence fails as miserably as the rest of the book because there is no point to it: in both cases your character gets to fight one - or even several - enemies, but there are no decisions or any other mechanic to allow the player to determine the result; the fights are just described in the text without allowing the reader any input.

To sum it up, this is another waste of time which I would advise people to avoid at all costs. If these authors have any real writing skills, they unfortunately don't show in this book. I still have some hope for the final book in this series, though, since it seems like another title which is completely different from the others....

More reviews by Guillermo

Special Thanks:Thanks to Guillermo Paredes for the plot summary and other information.
Users Who Own This Item: Guillermo, katzcollection

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