Star Wars Episode I Adventures

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This series of gamebooks is unusual, though not necessarily in a good way. The books are sold by mail order in installments; each installment includes two books and a set of cards. One book is a novel which sets up the plot of the adventure. The other book is the actual gamebook which allows the reader to play through various encounters. The cards represent items and characters that can potentially be taken along on each adventure. In order to play, the player reads the novel until he or she is told to switch to the gamebook. At this point, cards are selected and the gamebook is used to play through the adventure. The gamebook is simply a linear sequence of encounters; what choices are made simply affect which dice and stats are used to get past each section. Once the gamebook has been played the whole way through, the end of the novel is read and the adventure is complete. This is an interesting concept, but it's unfortunate that the gameplay is so linear.

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 Adventure Guide
Author: David Levithan
Designer: Mark Neston
First Published: 1999
ISBN: 0-439-12968-0
Length: 16 pages
Description: This booklet explains the rules of the game system and is part of the Star Wars Episode I Adventures introductory package. Other items in the package include ten-sided and twenty-sided dice, a pad to keep track of scores on, a notebook, a membership card and a Darth Maul-shaped case to hold everything in. The biggest flaw of this book (aside from the cheap paper it's printed on) is its failure to mention whether the zero on the ten-sided die represents zero or ten. Experience with playing the game suggests to me that it counts as ten, however.

  1. Search for the Lost Jedi
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: September, 1999
ISBN: 0-439-10138-7 (novel), 0-439-12984-2 (gamebook)
Length: 85 pages (novel), 81 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Obi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Vel Ardox, Noro Zak
Vehicle Cards Included: Flash Speeder, V-35 Landspeeder
Device Cards Included: Breather, Grappling Hook, Lightsaber (Obi-Wan Kenobi's), Lightsaber (Qui-Gon Jinn's)
Power Cards Included: Alteration, Persuasion
Plot Summary: You must travel to the planet Esseles and battle your way through a factory full of dangerously reprogrammed droids in order to rescue a captured Jedi Master and discover who has ordered the construction of combat-equipped spacecraft.
My Thoughts: Although the design of this book makes playing it feel rather like reading the outline for a larger gamebook, it's still a fairly satisfying adventure. While it's highly linear, it does have enough choices to make it feel somewhat less restrictive than it actually is. The cliffhanger ending was a pleasant surprise; it's nice to see that these books are going to have some sort of continuous storyline.
My Starting Score: 1000
My Ending Score: 2135

  2. The Bartokk Assassins
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: October, 1999
ISBN: 0-439-10139-5 (novel), 0-439-12985-0 (gamebook)
Length: 91 pages (novel), 97 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Bama Vook, Leeper
Vehicle Cards Included: Metron Burner, Z-95 Headhunter
Device Cards Included: HM Blaster, Short-Range Blaster
Power Cards Included: Confusion, Find
Plot Summary: You must pursue and destroy a freighter full of dangerous spacecraft stolen by a group of Bartokks, deadly insectoid assassins with a hive mind. To make things more complicated, you must rescue a hostage and retrieve a high-tech device before you can get around to blowing stuff up.
My Thoughts: This book follows the same pattern as the previous one and is about equally enjoyable. It nicely accomodates most character choices, though there were a few places where more item cards should have been taken into account. As before, the ending sets things up nicely for the next volume.
My Starting Score: 2135
My Ending Score: 2899
Errata: The Z-95 Headhunter card should list the vehicle as a space-type craft, not a land-type craft.

  3. The Fury of Darth Maul
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: November, 1999
ISBN: 0-439-10140-9 (novel), 0-439-12986-9 (gamebook)
Length: 93 pages (novel), 102 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Darth Maul, C-3PX
Vehicle Cards Included: Sith Speeder, Sith Infiltrator
Device Cards Included: Darth Maul Lightsaber, Flame Projector
Power Cards Included: Jump, Infiltration
Plot Summary: As an agent of the Sith, you must recover the droid starfighters that weren't destroyed by the Jedi and take revenge on the Bartokks currently in possession of them.
My Thoughts: This is the first book in this series which allows you to fight on the side of evil, and it's certainly an interesting novelty. Unfortunately, the storyline is very similar to that of the previous volume; it consists mostly of battles with Bartokks and concludes with a space fight and a few big explosions. A little more variety would have been nice. Still, the book does advance the storyline started in the previous two books, and this continuity helps a lot in making the series fun.
My Starting Score: 2899
My Ending Score: 3779
Errata: The last sentence of page 96 should read "If targeting is not one of your talents, your roll# + your weaponry# + your vehicle's weaponry# is your adventure#."

  4. Jedi Emergency
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: December, 1999
ISBN: 0-439-10141-7 (novel), 0-439-12987-7 (gamebook)
Length: 92 pages (novel), 108 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Yoda, Mace Windu
Vehicle Cards Included: Experimental Academy Starfighter, Repulsorlift Skiff
Device Cards Included: Yoda Lightsaber, Mace Windu Lightsaber
Power Cards Included: Redirect, Force Movement
Plot Summary: Having reached Corulag Academy, you must rescue a force-sensitive child from a misguided scientist and prevent Bartokks from blowing the entire complex up with powerful bombs!
My Thoughts: This adventure is yet another Bartokk slaughter, though it's not quite as monotonous as it could have been; the dual missions help to make things interesting, as does the fact that there's a good variety of different characters you can potentially use to play through the book. By the time the fighting is over, a number of subplots are resolved and at least one long-running mystery is solved. All this resolution means that, for the first time in this series, the basic plot of the next book is hard to predict...
My Starting Score: 3779
My Ending Score: 4420

  5. The Ghostling Children
Author: Dave Wolverton
First Published: January, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10142-5 (novel), 0-439-12988-5 (gamebook)
Length: 116 pages (novel), 61 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Anakin Skywalker, Kitster, Pala, Dorn
Vehicle Cards Included: Sand-Skimmer
Device Cards Included: Sleep-Dart, Jawa Ion Blaster
Power Cards Included: Reflex
Plot Summary: You are a slave, and you must enter the fortress of Gardulla the Hutt and rescue a group of fragile children stolen by the evil Podracer, Sebulba.
My Thoughts: While the gamebook included in this package is disappointingly short, it is nicely designed. Some of the choices are more complex than usual, and it's even possible to lose a Strength point as the result of an injury! The novel that introduces the adventure is also pretty decently written. This is a fairly good beginning to the series' second story arc.
My Starting Score: 4420
My Ending Score: 5072

  6. The Hunt for Anakin Skywalker
Author: Dave Wolverton
First Published: February, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10143-3 (novel), 0-439-12989-3 (gamebook)
Length: 100 pages (novel), 60 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Sebulba, Khiss, Gondry, Djas Puhr
Vehicle Cards Included: Sebulba's Podracer, Anakin's Podracer
Device Cards Included: Reactant Leak Sniffer
Power Cards Included: Hide
Plot Summary: You are Sebulba or one of his friends, and you must track down and capture one of the children who freed the Ghostling slaves.
My Thoughts: These books are even shorter than the last two, and the gamebook is a bit incoherent at times. Still, these flaws are redeemed by some pleasantly complex gameplay; a number of statistics and abilities can be affected by unwise choices during the course of play, and power must be used strategically.
My Starting Score: 5072
My Ending Score: 5572

  7. Capture Arawynne
Author: Dave Wolverton
First Published: March, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10144-1 (novel), 0-439-12990-7 (gamebook)
Length: 91 pages (novel), 56 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Tracking Droid
Vehicle Cards Included: Eopie
Device Cards Included: Stokhli Spray Stick
Power Cards Included: Motion
Plot Summary: The hunt continues... As one of the bad guys, you have to find and capture the escaped Ghostlings.
My Thoughts: This is easily the worst book in the series so far. First of all, it's the worst value; the gamebook is the shortest yet, the novel's not much longer, and you only get four cards. The book also has some major problems; while it allows you to play any of five different characters, the gamebook and the novel only fit together continuity-wise if you play as Sebulba; the worst option is to play as a tracking droid, since the gamebook contains mentions of clothing, parents, limbs, and other things that simply don't apply to the robot. The book isn't a total failure, though... It does manage to be rather funny at times. How can you fail to be amused by something which contains a section with the heading "To blast the swamp slug really, really good?"
My Starting Score: 5572
My Ending Score: 6271

  8. Trouble on Tattooine
Author: Dave Wolverton
First Published: April, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10145-X (novel), 0-439-14742-5 (gamebook)
Length: 97 pages (novel), 67 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Princess Arawynne
Vehicle Cards Included: Watto's Landspeeder
Device Cards Included: Beamdrill
Power Cards Included: Compass
Plot Summary: The Ghostling children and their would-be captors are sentenced to death in an arena, and you must guide them to safety through a series of sand drainage tunnels.
My Thoughts: This adventure concludes the second story arc in this series. The included novel is quite well-written and surprisingly sophisticated. Unfortunately, the gamebook doesn't integrate with the novel very well, and it feels rather brief despite being Wolverton's longest entry in the series so far. As with the other sets in the series, the actual writing in the gamebook isn't nearly as good as the writing in the novel, though it is enlivened a bit by occasional humor. As far as gameplay goes, there are some nice touches, like the fact that one possible mishap from early in the story turns out to be an advantage much later on, but it's fairly standard. The tunnel crawl theme is great gamebook material, but it doesn't feel quite right in a book as linear as this. Overall, this is a good read (and the novel borders on exceptional), but it's not the best adventure in the series.
My Starting Score: 6271
My Ending Score: 6885
Errata: On page 42, the Movement power is used. Unfortunately, there is no Movement power; the book is probably referring to the Motion power.

  9. Rescue in the Core
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: May, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10146-8 (novel), 0-439-17491-0 (gamebook)
Length: 91 pages (novel), 100 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Jar Jar Binks, Boss Nass
Vehicle Cards Included: Grand Army Bongo, Tribubble Bongo
Device Cards Included: Stunner, Electropole
Power Cards Included: Defense
Plot Summary: While travelling underwater, your craft is overtaken by a seaquake. You must survive the initial disaster, then try to help others who may have been affected by it. Along the way, you must also recover some endangered animals which escaped from a research facility.
My Thoughts: This book begins Ryder Windham's second story arc written for this series. Windham's works are generally longer than Dave Wolverton's, so the book seems a better value for the money, but its storyline isn't as interesting as some of Wolverton's better ones. The book isn't bad, though; the story and setting are both nice changes of pace, and the game design is fairly solid. The biggest problem with it is that it only really makes sense if you play as Jar Jar Binks; the gamebook just wasn't really written with Boss Nass in mind. Apart from this flaw, my only major gameplay complaint involves a sequence in which levers are randomly pulled; during this section, different random events can potentially happen repeatedly, but these events don't always make sense occurring more than once. The rules should probably have addressed this issue in some way.
My Starting Score: 6885
My Ending Score: 7450

  10. Festival of Warriors
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: June, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10147-6 (novel), 0-439-17492-9 (gamebook)
Length: 92 pages (novel), 96 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Major Fassa, Captain Tarpals
Vehicle Cards Included: Kaadu, Hydrotoboggan
Device Cards Included: Cesta, Slingshot
Power Cards Included: Diving
Plot Summary: You've entered in the Big Nasty Free-For-All, an intense test of skill held annually for Gungans. Unfortunately, some mysterious offworld droids have showed up to make things more difficult for everyone...
My Thoughts: This is a pretty good book. The game design is interesting, offering lots of choices and more flexibility than usual; there are some branches of the story that can be avoided, and it's even possible to lose the Free-For-All (which surprised me, since I figured victory would be inevitable). Although the extra possibilities of the book make it feel a bit less linear than usual, they bear a price; the gamebook and the novel fit together very poorly, and unless you take on the role of Major Fassa and do exceptionally well, the end of the novel will totally fail to match the events in the gamebook. This is too bad, as the inconsistency at the end dramatically reduced my opinion of an otherwise excellent book.
My Starting Score: 7450
My Ending Score: 7987
Errata: On page 80, you are instructed to do one thing if your adventure# is equal to or more than 14 or a different thing if it is less than 17. This presents an obvious inconsistency, but I don't know which number is the correct one.

  11. Pirates from Beyond the Sea
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: July, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10148-4 (novel), 0-439-17493-7 (gamebook)
Length: 83 pages (novel), 90 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Commander Wolloo, Lob Diz
Vehicle Cards Included: Heyblibber
Device Cards Included: Boomerang, Droid Deactivator
Power Cards Included: Knockout
Plot Summary: You must prevent some ancient Gungan statues from being stolen by alien pirates, and you must rescue a kidnapped historian.
My Thoughts: The novel in this package isn't terribly good, and as in the last package, integration between the novel and the gamebook is quite poor. Fortunately, these flaws are largely made up for by the quality of the gamebook, which provides a nice variety of situations, an interesting setting, and some nasty setbacks to your score when luck goes bad for too long. There's a lot of droid-killing, which brings back memories of the Bartokk-slaying missions early in the series, but this isn't just a rehash of earlier volumes. If not for the annoying novel integration problems, this would be an above-average adventure.
My Starting Score: 7987
My Ending Score: 8803
Errata: On page 40, the Aim skill is accidentally referred to as the Marksmanship skill; this is probably a relic from an earlier draft.

  12. The Bongo Rally
Author: Ryder Windham
First Published: August, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10149-2 (novel), 0-439-17494-5 (gamebook)
Length: 107 pages (novel), 100 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Spleed Nukkels, Neb Neb Goodrow
Vehicle Cards Included: Blue Racing Bongo, Green Racing Bongo
Device Cards Included: Crowbar
Power Cards Included: Acceleration
Plot Summary: Pirate Captain Swagg decides to get his revenge on the Gungans by attacking their arena during the bongo racing segment of the Festival of Warriors. Obviously, you must stop him...
My Thoughts: I'm glad to see this story arc come to an end. While it has had some good moments, it hasn't had nearly as much coherence as the previous two, especially as far as integration between the novels and gamebooks is concerned. This set is no exception, with the gamebook and novel being rather jarring in their inability to integrate smoothly. The story isn't completely without redeeming features, however; there are a few moments of humor, and the gamebook uses some inventory management, which is interesting (if pointless, considering that all the items are roughly alike). It's unfortunate that these books don't raise the complexity level of the rules just a little bit; it would make them considerably more exciting. With luck, maybe the next storyline will bring some innovation courtesy of Dave Wolverton...
My Starting Score: 8803
My Ending Score: 9495
Errata: On page 97, the Knockdown skill is mentioned; this is almost certainly an erroneous reference to the Knockout skill.

  13. Danger on Naboo
Author: Peter Lerangis (credited as A. L. Singer)
First Published: September, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10150-6 (novel), 0-439-19449-0 (gamebook)
Length: 73 pages (novel), 116 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Jedi (female), Jedi (male)
Vehicle Cards Included: Naboo Royal Starship
Device Cards Included: Grappling Spike Launcher
Power Cards Included: Mind Trick
Plot Summary: As a Jedi, you must investigate the Trade Federation blockade on Naboo; things get messy pretty fast.
My Thoughts: Contrary to my previous prediction, this book wasn't written by Dave Wolverton but instead comes courtesy of A. L. Singer, author of the unfortunate Dick Tracy Catch-a-Crook Adventure. Luckily, this book is of excellent quality. First of all, it wastes no time before diving right into the adventure; there are only two pages worth of novel before the player gets to start making choices. Secondly, it has a good game design, featuring some significant choices and various ways in which early events affect later ones; the fact that the book keeps track of the reader's bongo piloting skill, for example, is a nice touch. A final, and perhaps more important, factor that adds interest to the book is the fact that, since it is the first book in the series to novelize events from the film rather than to lead up to them, it brings together both of the storylines introduced in Ryder Windham's books; Wolverton's storyline should be tied in during the next volume. This attention to continuity makes reading this series quite rewarding. Of course, for people who have seen the film, this book may be disappointing familiar; for the unitiated like myself, though, it's a satisfying payoff.
My Starting Score: 9495
My Ending Score: 10629

  14. Podrace to Freedom
Author: Peter Lerangis (credited as A. L. Singer)
First Published: October, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-10151-4 (novel), 0-439-19450-4 (gamebook)
Length: 77 pages (novel), 105 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Tatooine Male, Tatooine Female
Vehicle Cards Included: Podracer
Device Cards Included: none
Power Cards Included: Repair, Navigation
Plot Summary: You're a slave on Tatooine, and you must win a dangerous podrace in order to help the characters from the previous story pay for some parts that they need to complete their critical mission.
My Thoughts: This book continues novelizing the events from the Star Wars Episode I film, and it does so quite well. The gamebook is the best-written so far, being of equal quality to the novel; this is probably because it is written with Anakin Skywalker in mind, so it doesn't have to make the sacrifices that previous books made in order to keep the characters generic. The only oddity is the fact that Kitster is always referred to (often rather awkwardly) as "your best friend" except in dialogue. This quirk aside, the book succeeds quite well in being exciting, touching and occasionally funny, and the gameplay only serves to enhance the story. Continuity is good, and a section of the book in which you must roll to successfully insult Sebulba is an amusing little touch. I look forward to the next volume, though I fear it may be the last...
My Starting Score: 10629
My Ending Score: 11626
Errata: On page 87, it says what to do if you have the decision talent, but it doesn't say what to do if you don't. I'd recommend omitting the knowledge# from the equation to keep things fair, but this is just a random guess. Additionally, on page 105, the reader is instructed to turn to page "TK" of the novel. The page number should, in fact, be 61.

  15. The Final Battle
Author: Peter Lerangis (credited as A. L. Singer)
First Published: November, 2000
ISBN: 0-439-17488-0 (novel), 0-439-19451-2 (gamebook)
Length: 58 pages (novel), 151 pages (gamebook)
Character Cards Included: Queen Amidala, Captain Panaka, Naboo Pilot
Vehicle Cards Included: N-1 Starfighter
Device Cards Included: Naboo Blaster
Power Cards Included: Surprise Attack
Plot Summary: You must participate in the final battle for Naboo, and depending on which role you take on, your objective varies...
My Thoughts: Interestingly, the series concludes with its shortest novel and its longest gamebook. The writing is fairly strong (though not quite at the level of the previous volume), and the game design is interesting -- there are basically four separate brief gamebooks here, each following a different character. It's unfortunate, however, that the book isn't designed so that the reader can follow all four paths; instead, it forces the reader to choose one, meaning that vital parts of the story get missed and that the overall adventure is remarkably brief. Of course, there's nothing stopping the reader from going through all four paths, but it's too bad that keeping score while doing this would technically be against the rules. Paths #1 and #2 have a bit too much in common, but the final two paths are distinct enough from the first two to be worth reading, with #3 (the Gungan adventure) being the most unique (and also the silliest). Integration between the novel and the gamebook leaves a bit to be desired here; things are certainly a bit off if you follow path #1 as Qui-Gon Jinn! Nonetheless, this isn't a bad conclusion to the series; I can only hope that Star Wars Episode II Adventures will someday become available!
My Starting Score: 11626
My Ending Score: 12299 (after choosing path #1)
Errata: On page 140, it says to turn to "You whiz by the walls" on page 146; the phrase in question is actually on page 142. Additionally, on page 149, there's a To outrun the fireball (without Power) heading even though there is no option to use power.

The End:
Final Comments on the Series

I've really enjoyed collecting this series, and I'm definitely going to miss it 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 kept 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... I can only hope that this isn't the last gasp of the gamebook genre; hopefully we'll see some new interactive books being printed in 2001 and beyond!

It's also worth nothing that I have a long-standing dislike for Star Wars. I've seen the original trilogy once, and I have no plans of repeating the experience. These books have given me some new insight into the depth of the Star Wars universe, though, and I now feel some desire to see Episode I, even though I'm sure my enjoyment of the books will only increase my hatred of the film. Still, I can't help but try...

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