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Carousel -- United Kingdom
Complexity Level : Intermediate (Some Game Elements)
Format : Paperback
Game System : Inventory Management
Game System : Magic
Game System : Randomization Method : Coins
Genre : Fantasy
Target Age Group : Older Children
Writing Style : Present Tense
Writing Style : Second Person
Enchanteurs et chevaliers (French)
Kishi to mahoutsukai kimi wa dochira wo erabu ka? [騎士と魔法使い 君はどちらを選ぶか?] (Japanese)
Magos y guerreros (Spanish)
Ridder & troldmand (Danish)
These books were first published by Avon in the United States, but a few of them were reissued with new covers by Carousel in the United Kingdom. They take place in the fantasy kingdom of King Henry, where a legendary pair of unnamed heroes, the Wizard and the Warrior, are frequently called upon to complete dangerous missions. The central gimmick of the series is that the reader has the choice in each adventure of taking on the role of either the Wizard or the Warrior. As the Warrior, the reader must select a limited number of weapons from a list in the back of the book before proceeding on a mission; the Wizard is given a full complement of spells but often has to rely more on luck than the Warrior does. The spell and weapon lists changed twice during the course of the series, adding some variety to the adventures. The books rely heavily on randomization, and most challenges are resolved by flipping coins; sometimes, though, other methods are used, like asking the player to pick a random number or check the time of day or day of the week. All of this use of chance means that the books aren't particularly skill-based, but they have a unique flavor and a considerable number of fans.
I have fond memories of this series. At the start of each of the books, you can choose to be a Wizard or a Warrior. This made replayability high as you could change back and forth. Each character took a different path on the same adventure, but you'd bring the other along as a companion. For instance, if you select the Wizard, you are accompanied by the Warrior as a sort of NPC.
The Wizard had a list of spells to choose from, which were interesting. The Warrior chooses three or four weapons, in addition to his sword. As a kid this felt cool, selecting between morning stars, flails, lances and triple crossbows. But now it feels a bit redundant.
To say the characters lack personality is an understatement. But I guess that should be the point of a gamebook, to impart your own personality on the characters.
Most books fall into the pick a path style, where your survival is based on your choices alone, rather than a gamebook style where you fight by rolling dice, losing hit points, etc. I tend to prefer the first type as I'm more interested in the role play aspect of the books. This series falls more into the former catergory. But unfortunately, it tries to have several gamebook style scenarios. This results in you flipping coins, turning to pages depending on what day of the week it is, etc. This is very unsatisfying. Rather than flipping a coin, why not give us a choice to make things feel less random? With the weapon and spell selection, the series shouldn't need to rely on silly coin flipping.
Overall, the series is very young but has its moments, especially with the Camelot style setting.
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