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This series followed the Star Wars Missions books, and it shares their mail-order distribution and their unusual linear format. Like those books, the first delivery of this series consisted of a boxed kit containing dice (ten- and twenty-sided rather than the six- and twelve-sided of the original series), a rulebook, score sheets, a blank notebook, a set of cards and the first adventure. This time, though, rather than featuring linear chapters and an interactive portion in a single volume, each adventure is split into two books: a linear novel that can be read completely by itself, and a separate gamebook which can optionally be used instead of the middle portion of the novel. When using the gamebook, the reader reads the novel up to a point where he or she is referred to the gamebook, then runs through the interactive portion of the adventure. As in the Star Wars Missions, this is a linear sequence of encounters that requires an initial selection of cards (in the same categories as in the Star Wars Missions but with a broader category of "devices" in place of weapons) and features a running score to keep things interesting. After the interactive portion is done, the reader is referred back to the novel, where the story is concluded.
The fifteen books of the series make up four distinct storylines, each focusing on different characters and written by a different author (although Ryder Windham wrote two storylines). The first three plots take place before the Star Wars Episode I film, and the final storyline is actually an adaptation of the movie itself. With those final books, the series concluded, and nothing more was released even when Star Wars Episode II arrived in theaters.
Gamebooks1. Search for the Lost Jedi
2. The Bartokk Assassins
3. The Fury of Darth Maul
4. Jedi Emergency
5. The Ghostling Children
6. The Hunt for Anakin Skywalker
7. Capture Arawynne
8. Trouble on Tatooine
9. Rescue in the Core
10. Festival of Warriors
11. Pirates from Beyond the Sea
12. The Bongo Rally
13. Danger on Naboo
14. Podrace to Freedom
15. The Final Battle
RulebooksStar Wars Episode I Adventures Adventure Guide
I really enjoyed collecting this series, and I definitely miss getting monthly installments quite a bit. Perhaps it's just the joy of getting new gamebooks, no matter how linear, that led me to appreciate these books so much, but there's definitely quite a bit here to like. Characterization is quite good for the most part, and the continuing storyline keeps things engaging. The game system was a joke, really, but at least it probably helped some elementary school students learn in advance how to balance a checkbook....
It's also worth nothing that when I started the books, I had a long-standing dislike for all things Star Wars, having seen the original trilogy once without enjoying it. These books gave me some new insight into the depth of the Star Wars universe, though, eventually inspiring me to see Episode I. I thoroughly hated it, but at least I appreciated what it was trying to do... and when I revisited the original trilogy more recently, I found it considerably more enjoyable than I had remembered it. It's amazing what gamebooks can do under the right circumstances.
With it being the twentieth anniversary of The Phantom Menace, it's interesting to reflect on what this and Scholastic were doing for people like myself who had only known the original movies on VHS and didn't see the Special Editions in quite the same negative light as those who had been kids in the 70's and early 80's. For us the prequels were effectively 'our' Star Wars and Scholastic created some interesting content in and around the new movie for us to enjoy, and as someone who was already into interactive fiction and games this was awesome. The above comments don't quite mention that the boxed kit this is housed in is shaped like Darth Maul's head, who naturally became the star character of Episode 1.
I received this series here in the UK as part of a monthly mailed package which contained the latest books - the linear novel which sets up the backstory (but which can also be read all of if the reader prefers to have the 'canon' story told to them instead) and the interactive book with new cards for characters and equipment, as well as additional content like a magazine (which featured interviews from actors in the movie) and a selection of non-interactive young adult Scholastic books - these were primarily an ongoing series with a young Obi-Wan training with Qui-Gon many years before Episode 1 but there were also standalone books which told the story of Phantom Menace from three distinct perspectives - Padme Amidala, Anakin and Darth Maul. There were several characters both established and original in each story, meaning you have about two to four perspectives in each mission, each with certain abilities - Jedi, Smugglers, Pilots and so forth. There were four story-lines in total, with four books in each of the three main pre Episode 1 stories and then just three for the adaption of the movie. One unique aspect in the first two stories (with the Jedi and then Anakin) is that you get to switch over to play as the villains for one book - Maul in one and Sebulba in another. The final book also lets you choose your role in the Battle of Naboo, playing as the Jedi, the Queen's forces, Anakin and the pilots or the Gungans.
With hindsight, these books were well written and designed, letting you learn more about lesser characters from the movies like Anakin's slave friends and Captain Tarpals (arguably the most competent Gungan out there) and creating some interesting adventures for younger audiences which last over multiple books. The interactive dice mechanics are less about having lots of choices and more choosing what you think your character's skills will let you manage (do you need to use a breathing device to go underwater or is your character able to do so naturally) before advancing the plot along, but it's still cool to be able to role play as Qui-Gon, Yoda, Anakin and yes, even poor Jar Jar. (I was sad I never got to play as my favorite council members Ki-Adi Mundi and Plo Koon though).
I feel like something like this adapted for the new trilogy and anthology films for new Star Wars fans with stories for Rey, Poe, Jyn and Lando could have done ok.