Fighting Fantasy (1982-1995, Puffin)
A Fistful of Fighting Fantasy (Collection)
Cavaleiro do céu (Portuguese)
Égi fejedelem (Hungarian)
Le Justicier de l'Univers (French)
Missione nei cieli (Italian)
Nebeský lord (Czech)
Sky Lord (Portuguese)
Tenkuu-yousai Aarokku [天空要塞アーロック] (Japanese)
Sell, Tim (interior)
0140326014 / 9780140326017
I've finally found a gamebook weirder than Space and Beyond and Prisoner of the Ant People put together.
Sky Lord might be most the bizarre book I've ever read, period. In it, you control a space warrior who has been assigned to find and capture a crazed scientist who is rumored to have created a race of unstoppable warriors. It might sound like they just reinvented Space Assassin, but the results are even more bizarre than seeing what the cephalo squirrel is used for.
The first decision in the book is what method of rapid transit you'll use to travel from your home planet to the mad scientist's base of operations. Each has advantages and dangers, the reader is told, but nothing is done to inform the reader as to what they are. Also, during ship-to-ship battles with massive spacecraft, the reader is given options to change his ship's speed, heading, etc. using terms that made no sense to me. I have a feeling that even if I were a fighter pilot and knew what "yaw" was, the outcome of my choices would still seem arbitrary. Same for when I had to choose a special weapon to use -- "You start to warm up your super-mason blaster when a gravity bomb blows you up." The lack of information is a constant throughout the book when making vital decisions, and you'll probably feel you'd be just as likely to succeed if you were to close your eyes and point to a choice at random or played "eenie-meenie-miney-moe."
This is a gamebook that simply cannot be completed without several play-throughs and foreknowledge of where the instant deaths and invaluable items are to be had. Even moreso than most Fighting Fantasy books, with the lack of intuitive decision making.
The whole book feels like a fever dream. Check out only if you want to see the weirder side of gamebooks.
I am probably going against the grain on this review, but I gotta admit... I liked Sky Lord!
If I had bought this book when it first came out, I would have hated it... I would have resented its existence... but as an adult and only recently exposed to this book, I was quite impressed.
First off... quite a vast and colorful world. I had no idea what to expect going from on region to another... or what the result would be in handling various encounters. It took me several pages to map all my travels, and there are still areas yet to be explored.
The book's scenario was quite unique to me and I found it all worked well. The plot of the main bad guy cloning people in order to obtain more funds for their research... only to be found out when the real person sees their doppelganger in a store.
There are several 'mini-games' to be found in this story... and they were well done. Each game area was unique in its descriptions as well as playability.
Running from the blob on the spaceship was a fun challenge.
I found it clever the multiple ways to succeed in just about all the game areas (Only one I can think of that breaks this rule is the circle/square maze). These multiple ways allowed you to take a chance or a guess on what to do and generally you had a few ways to still make it out ok.
I was disappointed in that I wasn't able to successfully navigate the circle/square maze correctly and the last few turns ended up being pure trial and error. I had the translation for the game play and kept track of the color changes... yet still wasn't able to do it all the way through.
The platform game got confusing when so many twists and turns of the barriers and although I attempted a system to know where they were, I had to just resort to trial and error.
The other reviewer expressed some disappointment in some vague areas, such as telling what yaw, pitch, roll and speed to select... the book did state that you were to learn as you go... so I found that intriguing and gave it a shot... even took the time to figure out what the difference is between a yaw and pitch... but the book did not give any real feedback in what you chose... would have been better if it said you rolled away or attempted this but the other craft had done an outmaneuver, etc... so as the other reviewer had stated... it became almost a matter of randomly selecting one and hoping for the best.
Ship combat and multi-vehicle combat was an interesting take and did bring some excitement... but there were some areas where the vehicle you had was so underpowered, you needed a great bit of rolling luck, or you fudged it!
While my first 'pro' point of the book was the rich and vast world... it was almost too big. It became a problem when you would explore an area for some time... and when you got that all mapped, I found it too cumbersome to start again from the beginning and setup 'saved points.'
Overall, this probably isn't a book for everyone, and I am not a super huge sci-fi fan, but it did intrigue me and I found the story and the journey quite colorful and interesting.
|Special Thanks:||Thanks to Nicholas Campbell for the numbered cover and diagram scans and to Brett Easterbrook for the unnumbered cover scan.|
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Fighting Fantasy #33 Character Sheet (back)
Fighting Fantasy #33 Character Sheet (front)
Fighting Fantasy #33 Diagrams