There seems to be no respite to the current Eighties revival. From the Ting Tings, garishly framed glasses and deck shoes, to casual football hooliganism, a global recession and Conservative Government, it seems we can’t escape similarities to that decade.
Even heroin is having a mini revival.
And, as they say, “if you can remember the 80s, you… still have nightmares about fluorescent leg warmers.”
But there’s one massive aspect of that period that hasn’t made much of a comeback; tabletop role-playing games.
In the early 1980s, Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Traveller, Runequest, and a whole smorgasbord of other RPGs, were to teenage boys what alcopops and under-age sexual encounters are to today’s generation.
We didn’t need to go on stabbing sprees, we had fictional orcs to brawl. And, if we were really lucky (with our twenty-sided die) we might even have been treated to a description of a comely wench’s ample bosom, delivered by another teenage boy, in the guise of a Dungeon Master.
As good as role-playing sessions were, though, they took an awful lot of preparation. And you’d need a big collection of other similarly-minded geekagers to have a half-decent adventure.
That’s where Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks came in…
Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
- iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad
Back in 1982, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain hit bookstores and created a huge sensation. It was a cross between the Choose your own Adventure novels coming into the UK via the States (giving multiple options, and subsequent page numbers, after each chapter), and a role-playing game, with character stats and dice-rolling aplenty.
Its success spawned a run of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks that lasted for 59 separate titles and 13 years. Now it has found a new medium and audience in the guise of an iPhone and iPad app, and it’s not just a nostalgic look back for a grown-up geek, there’s proper gameplay in there too.
Keeping true to the original, the heart of the application, on both iPhone and iPad formats, is an ebook. The text is identical to the original paperback, as are the pics, albeit tarted up and coloured in. However, the dice rolling is integrated (shake the device and they spin across the screen), as is character management. And the choices at the end or during the chapter, including fight or flee, are hot links.
That’s really all there is to it. If you’re not a big reader, you won’t get on very well with TWOFM, if you are, there’s plenty of entertainment therein.
One criticism would be that there’s no auto mapping function. The book rather relies on you knowing where you are in the dungeon at any given time, and avid fans back then will have had a pencil and graph paper to hand. When you’re on a train now though, you’re not likely to get out an exercise book and plunge into a world of cartography, with your iPhone in one hand, quill in the other. Considering the technology, it would’ve been simple to have created an in-game auto map as you go.
Nonetheless, mapping issues aside, this is an excellent app to rekindle the love for traditional role-playing games, and with another two books in the series already available too, Citadel of Chaos and Deathtrap Dungeon, let’s hope it continues to build.
Now, where did I put my lead figurines?