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Item - Star System Tenopia

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Series: Escape from Tenopia — no. 4
Translated Into: Universo de estrellas (Spanish)
Author: Brightfield, Richard
Illustrators: Huerta, Catherine (cover)
Perry, David (interior)
Date: September, 1986
ISBN: 0553256378 / 9780553256376
Length: 131 pages
Number of Endings: 1
User Summary: Life is never easy. Just as you think you're on your way home, space pirates attack your ship and force you to track down an alternate means of transport: the well-hidden emergency Galactic Patrol starship.
Demian's Thoughts:

Time to get out the notebook again... Like the first book in the series, there are a lot of weird place names to remember (some of which differ by only a single letter), and you'll almost certainly have to write them down if you wish to correctly answer the "have you been to this place before?" questions. Despite this annoyance, the book is entertaining; much of the challenge lies in collecting five words which make up a code needed to activate the starship you seek. "Collect the parts" is certainly a classic gamebook objective, and it's done well (though without much innovation) here. Unfortunately, though, the book suffers from excessive linearity at times. The first section of the story is seven pages long (not including illustrations), and there are several points where the reader isn't given a choice when he or she really should be able to make one (why, for example, would you want to fly directly into a pirate base?). Perhaps the original manuscript was longer than the publisher wanted and some choices had to be edited out. Despite its problems, though, the book is fun, and it definitely ends the series on a high note.

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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' follow-up title, "Star System Tenopia". 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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