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Item - The Crystal Maze

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Series: The Crystal Maze
Authors: Morris, Dave
Thomson, Jamie
Date: 1991
ISBN: 0749707682 / 9780749707682
Length: 320 sections
Number of Endings: 1 (not including failure by capture)
User Summary: You must collect as many time crystals as possible by solving puzzles while travelling through four different time zones.
Demian's Thoughts:

A lot of interactive fiction has all plot and no gameplay. This is the rare reverse -- there are puzzles and nifty mechanics everywhere, but no story to be seen. Unfortunately, the result is a little boring as a result. I love the novelty of puzzles in gamebooks, but being continually assaulted with them gets tedious, especially when some of them are far, far too familiar. At this point, there should be a law against dragging out the old "one man tells the truth and the other lies -- figure out which is which by asking a question" puzzle. Still, there are several great moments in here -- there's a puzzle where you have to move objects around, and each stage of the puzzle solution is accompanied by an illustration, making it feel almost like a computer strategy game. There are also some fairly demanding thought problems; fans of the Be an Interplanetary Spy series should enjoy this book, as it has similar content but is aimed at a more advanced audience. I just wish the neat puzzles here could have been spread out among a few more story-oriented volumes rather than all jammed into this one book; there can indeed be too much of a good thing. Also worth noting is the fact that this book seems to have pre-dated the Give Yourself Goosebumps series in the "shiny prismatic cover" department.

My High Score - 12 (yes, I know I am pathetic)

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hadlee73's Thoughts:

An adventure gamebook with puzzles, NOT a puzzle book! A fun adventure gamebook based loosely on the TV show of the same name. I say loosely because this book is not a collection of puzzles that may or may not be from the show, but rather an interactive adventure book set in the future where the reader takes on the role of a team of Crystal Maze TV contestants making their way through a futuristic version of the show.

The book is well-written, and the puzzles are very challenging, but satisfying to defeat. The book has some replayability too as you can only do four puzzles/games from each section of the Crystal Maze, so you could play again and do the other puzzles you missed out on last time.

There are some unfortunate errors in the book (a couple of references point to the wrong places, and I discovered at least two orphaned passages; there is even an ending where you don't get any Crystals at all, but that one hasn't been appropriately linked to the final passage). So it's a fun book, as long as you don't go in expecting it to be something that it isn't.

More reviews by hadlee73

Shadeheart's Thoughts:

[Rating: 4/10]​
[Recommended: NO] ​

Tragically, puzzles within gamebooks​ are all too often approached with minimal interest by the writers - and what's more, the effect of accomplishing a task can retrospectively mean very little in an adventure. In sharp contrast to this, the complete experience of ​"The Crystal Maze" is foundationally structured THROUGH the puzzles it contains, making for a different experience, one that forsakes narrative for immersiveness. Spearheaded by the television series on which this tie-in gamebook was based - and with which familiarity is essential to understanding what's going on/imagining the scenarios - the book manages to provide a surprisingly immersive, quirky and often challenging experience that, despite a number of flaws, manages to be an overall enjoyable experience. ​

While refraining from revealing specifics, it's worth calling to attention several components which are immediately worth mentioning. Controlling a team of four players, and solving puzzles in four time zones, the book's well-suited presentation style nevertheless can seem tiring or tedious at times, not unlike the show itself - relying heavily on its neo-futuristic setting (which actually provides a few laughs), the human side of the game is unfortunately overlooked too often to personally connect. It is unfortunately impossible to have any strategy, considering how frequently the puzzle variation shifts; the non-linear in-betweens do bridge some of the faults a little. One of the most notable aspects, however, is the difficulty level: I'd argue my playthrough was remarkably lucky - I never lost any team members, won fourteen crystals (all five in the medieval area; three in the other three), and was able to successfully solve a good number of the pretty difficult time-based and mathematical/logistic puzzles (even winning a grid challenge by a quarter of a second!), and with 56 points I only obtained a MODERATELY GOOD ending (the endings being based on multiplying the crystals won). ​

​When it comes down to it, it is unfortunately difficult to recommend the book except as a once-off way to spend a single afternoon - enjoyable as it may be for a short while, the sheer novelty is short-lived and the experience fails to measure up well despite its occasional innovation. Thoughtful as it may seem, it's more likely to leave you a little lost in a maze of your own making. ^^ ​​

(Mysteriously disappears into the shadows.)

More reviews by Shadeheart

Errata:The "shoot the fighters" puzzle in the futuristic zone repeatedly refers to "skill score" (in sections 174, 185, 197, 207, 218, 229, 240, 269, 278, 287 and 296). It is unclear what this means, but my guess is that it actually means dexterity. The first mental challenge in the industrial zone sends players back to the futuristic zone for some reason; in sections 215, 252, 264 and 274, you should replace the "turn to 203" instruction with "turn to 180."
Users Who Own This Item: Alatar001, B0N0V0X, dArtagnan, dave2002a, Dirk Omnivore, domj29, Eamonn McCusker, Ed, edwebb, Erikwinslow, firefoxpdm, Gartax, hadlee73, jdreller, juski, katzcollection, kinderstef, knginatl (O'Brien cover edition), Malthus Dire, mlvoss, nefast, nelsondesign, Nich, outspaced, Pseudo_Intellectual, qazplm, rolipo26, Sheridan77, Sir Olli, sireeyore, Smidgeccfc76, waktool (UK 4th), Yalius
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Related Documents

Play Aid

Crystal Maze Adventure Sheet