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Item - The Wounded Falcon (expanded)


Series: Choices (expanded editions) — no. 1
Adapted From: The Wounded Falcon (Gamebook)
Author: Barnett, Jasan P.
Illustrators: Barnett, Peter
Barnett, Josephine (interior)
Date: March 17, 2011
ISBN: 1921633263 / 9781921633263
Length: 91 pages
Number of Endings: 21 (1 of these is victorious)
User Summary: While out on a hunting expedition with your trained falcon, an unexpected event occurs that threatens her life. Alone, you are the only person who can rescue her. Can you succeed before it is too late?
Demian's Thoughts: It has been quite a while since I read the original version of this story, and I can’t remember that experience well enough to comment on exactly how much has changed in the revision. However, my general opinion of this new edition is fairly consistent with my comments in the earlier review – this adventure distinguishes itself with a novel premise and a variety of mechanics that show a willingness to experiment on the part of the author. The gameplay is complex enough to make success a genuine challenge, but the multiple paths to victory ensure that it is possible to succeed before becoming too frustrated.

Unfortunately, expanding a short experiment to book length does open it up to greater criticism, and I do have a few complaints. First of all, while novel, some of the game mechanics become a hassle after a while. Worst of these is the timekeeping, which intrudes too frequently on the flow of the narrative; it would have been possible to track time just as effectively without doing it quite so often. Also occasionally problematic is the “hidden choices” mechanic, in which readers attempt to use inventory items by combining the current page number with a value attached to the item in order to determine the next page number. When this actually works, it is novel and exciting; however, there are some points where it is easy to try to perform a valid action a little too soon or too late, and this can become frustrating. On the story front, I also felt that a couple of the key events of the book could have been made more satisfying – one animal encounter leads to certain defeat while another serves only to potentially wound and delay the reader; while a longer work can afford to have such dead-ends for variety, they feel like unwelcome padding in this tighter format, and they might have been more satisfying if clever hidden choices were available to turn bad situations into beneficial ones. Finally, I was a little disappointed at the “one section per page” approach in the book; a lot more content could have been packed into the same number of pages by using numbered paragraphs instead. Of course, with the hidden choices mechanic, numbered paragraphs might have led to too many spoilers, and at least the one-section-per-page makes room for lots of artwork.

All nitpicks aside, though, The Wounded Falcon still manages to be a more satisfying experience than the average Choose Your Own Adventure, and most of its flaws only become apparent after many repeat readings. If you simply play until your first victory (which is what most readers will probably do), you should leave satisfied. I’m pleased to see this level of experimentation in a book aimed at younger readers, and I suspect that less jaded readers than myself will be thoroughly engaged. In any case, I definitely look forward to seeing where the Choices series goes next.

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Special Thanks:Thanks to the author for the information and cover image.
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