Why did no-one tell me, that you can actually get Fighting Fantasy books for your iPhone/iTouch? Oh yes. Whilst idly scrolling through the Apple store I saw them there, a whole host of them (well, four) for around £1.80 each
Ok right, for everyone who was not privileged to read such literary (or is it gaming) masterpieces; The Fighting Fantasy books are a series of books written in the 80’s by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone
, which are quite an ingenious mix of both game and book. Being only a handful of years old when they were released, and the fact that computer games were in their relative infancy, they were my entrance into role-playing games.
The Fighting Fantasy books differ from regular books, in that you do not just passively read them but you are involved in the story itself; fighting the monsters and deciding what the hero does.
As is standard amongst nearly all rpg’s now, before you began playing the game you were required to generate the statistics for your character. Usually these were Stamina (health pool), Skill (combat ability) and Luck (err, well luck), although sometimes you had spell pools and other such things which needed to be determined as well. This was done by way of rolling a pre-set number of standard dice and adding a value, these combined would be your total score.
Once the story started, rather then going from page one through to the end of the book in a linear fashion, you would hop backwards and forwards through the book as instructed depending on the choices you made. At nearly every junction in the story you were asked what you wanted to do, and would then in turn be asked to turn to the appropriate page. For example, a typical paragraph would be…
Along the way you would have to fight various monsters which entailed rolling two sets of dice, two each for yourself and the monster, and the outcome would see you or the monster losing Stamina accordingly. You would continue through the book in this way until you completed the book, or you died trying.
So, all this simple yet highly enjoyable rpg-ing can now be owned on your iPhone or iTouch. As you would expect from a phone version of the game, everything has been automated including animations for dice rolling and page turning. The black and white pictures in the book enlarge and come to life with colour before fading back into the background again. Incidentally, the dice can be rolled by either shaking your iPhone or touching the screen, though I would recommend against the former if you’re in a public place, just to avoid any possible police intervention.
Everything included within the original books is on the apps and more, except for one very memorable thing… You can’t cheat..!
Well, if you can it’s not as I did before. As a child I perfected the otherwise completely un-useable skill of holding six or seven different pages open simultaneously, so I could explore every option before commitment myself to one decision. If I rolled for my Skill and rolled a one that would often translate to a 6 when I wrote it down my score (To be honest, I don’t even know why I bothered rolling, when I could have just written anything I wanted.) Basically, the automation forces you to play the book as it was written, and it is very unforgiving. You fail a Luck test? That’s it, deal with the consequences; you lose all your health fighting a goblin? Sorry you’re dead, time to start over.
Ok, so not being able to cheat isn’t actually a bad thing, in fact it’s why I’m enjoying reading these again. As a child, I clearly couldn’t be trusted to play them properly, I defeated every creature without a fight, just happened to have every item I needed, and if I made a wrong turn I just checked another option I was keeping open. In essence, I wasn’t playing them properly.
So far, four books have been released, and the three I’ve tried guarantee I have to get the fourth book as well.
Of course, you could just hunt down the books and play those. I’m sure everyone is much more adult than me and can easily resist the lure of cheating.