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Item - Tenopia Island

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Series: Escape from Tenopia — no. 1
Translated Into: La isla de Tenopia (Spanish)
Author: Packard, Edward
Illustrators: Huerta, Catherine (cover)
Perry, David (interior)
Date: June, 1986
ISBN: 0553254723 / 9780553254723
Length: 133 pages
Number of Endings: 1
User Summary: You are the only survivor of an unfortunate encounter between a spaceship and a meteor. Your lifepod lands on the dangerous planet of Tenopia, and you must find a way home.
Demian's Thoughts:

I found note-taking to be rather essential for this book. During your travels on Tenopia Island, you're often asked if you've been to certain specific locations before. Since the place names are all rather unmemorable, it's hard to keep track of where you've been without writing some things down. Perhaps I took the note-taking too far, however; I also wrote down some clues, and by following them, I managed to finish the book so quickly that I didn't have much chance to be entertained by it. I certainly wasn't as thrilled as when I first played it during my childhood and fell in love with the series. Still, this isn't a bad design -- it's much more game-like than Edward Packard's better-known Choose Your Own Adventure books, with map-reading and puzzle-solving playing important parts on the way to victory. The fact that there's no way to lose may disappoint gamebook fans looking for a challenge, however; Fighting Fantasy this is not....

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Shadeheart's Thoughts:

[Rating: 1/10]
[Recommended? NO]

Based on my preconceived understanding that the "Escape From Tenopia" series was an equivalent sort of spin-off to the popular yet awful "Choose Your Own Adventure" gamebooks, my expectations were accordingly kept to a minimum when delving into the series' debut title, "Tenopia Island". As such was the case, I wasn't too horribly let down (though I definitely wasn't impressed) with the title's sparse details, overcompensating plot development characteristics and utterly threadbare narrative devices, such as nonexistent character traits and arbitrarily tailored plot points. What struck me most fervently about this little adventure is how, to my surprise, it wasn't technically possible to lose; sure, there are bad choices to be found, and both the puzzles and decision-making opportunities were underwhelming and in short supply of quality. The assault of information at every turn is definitely deceptive in a few senses; one would expect there to be a challenging (or luck-based) component or two where readers would definitely have to put all their knowledge to good use, but, alas, there's no real sense of accomplishment through this long "follow the roads until you end up on the right one" design scheme. I was equally disappointed by these shortcomings when compared to the story's rather short length as I was dissuaded by how unnecessarily difficult the book made it to keep track of (or care about) everything happening back-to-back on every page.

At the end of the day I found this book dissatisfactory and not worthy of recommending in the end; while the book (and series) held legitimate storytelling potential it was wasted due to the stylistic, structural and executive shortcoming of its design and featureless lack of intrinsic atmosphere. This is little more than a shallowly escapist enterprise to encounter - and you're not missing out if you pass on (or, shall I say, escape from) this largely forgettable escape sequence. ^^

(Mysteriously disappears into the shadows.)

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Special Thanks:Thanks to Ryan Lynch for the back cover and spine images.
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