The Crystal Maze

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This one-off gamebook was published by Mammoth in 1991. It is based on a TV game show, much like the Knightmare books. A fairly simple system is used. The player controls four team members, each with different scores in three attributes: strength, dexterity and intelligence. Attributes are tested by rolling two six-sided dice; a result less than or equal to the ability score indicates success. Each team member may also carry a single item. At various points in the story, team members may be captured. If all four members are taken captive, the reader loses. Otherwise, points are scored based on how many team members remain free at the end of the story and how many time crystals have been earned by successfully solving the book's many puzzles.

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 The Crystal Maze
Authors: Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson
Illustrator: Uncredited
First Published: 1991
ISBN: 0-7497-0768-2
Length: 320 sections
Number of Endings: 1 (not including failure by capture)
Plot Summary: You must collect as many time crystals as possible by solving puzzles while travelling through four different time zones.
My Thoughts: A lot of interactive fiction has all plot and no gameplay. This is the rare reverse -- there are puzzles and nifty mechanics everywhere, but no story to be seen. Unfortunately, the result is a little boring as a result. I love the novelty of puzzles in gamebooks, but being continually assaulted with them gets tedious, especially when some of them are far, far too familiar. At this point, there should be a law against dragging out the old "one man tells the truth and the other lies -- figure out which is which by asking a question" puzzle. Still, there are several great moments in here -- there's a puzzle where you have to move objects around, and each stage of the puzzle solution is accompanied by an illustration, making it feel almost like a computer strategy game. There are also some fairly demanding thought problems; fans of the Be an Interplanetary Spy series should enjoy this book, as it has similar content but is aimed at a more advanced audience. I just wish the neat puzzles here could have been spread out among a few more story-oriented volumes rather than all jammed into this one book; there can indeed be too much of a good thing. Also worth noting is the fact that this book seems to have pre-dated the Give Yourself Goosebumps series in the "shiny prismatic cover" department.
My High Score: 12 (yes, I know I am pathetic)
Errata: The "shoot the fighters" puzzle in the futuristic zone repeatedly refers to "skill score" (in sections 174, 185, 197, 207, 218, 229, 240, 269, 278, 287 and 296). It is unclear what this means, but my guess is that it actually means dexterity. The first mental challenge in the industrial zone sends players back to the futuristic zone for some reason; in sections 215, 252, 264 and 274, you should replace the "turn to 203" instruction with "turn to 180."

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