If you grew up in Britain in the late 80s/early 90s there’s a fairly high chance you’ll have encountered the Fighting Fantasy series of Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks1 at some point. They’re something that left a fairly deep impression on me – I still have basically the full collection sitting in a box somewhere – as their fusion of entry-level RPG elements (character stats, a player inventory, combat) with the CYOA format provided some badly-needed structure to something that even nine-year-old me felt was rather on the light side. The Fighting Fantasy series eventually succumbed to the vagaries of time and the whimsy of a young population that was increasingly drawn to video games, but I still remember them fondly. That’s why I was intrigued to see iOS developer Inkle attempting to resurrect them on the App Store a couple of years back, and even went as far as buying their version of Sorcery! for my ancient iPad Mini2 to check out what they’d done. My conclusion was that while their conversion was solid and they’d even tried to innovate by including an actual honest-to-god interactive map to represent your journey across the continent (which any young player of Fighting Fantasy would have killed for back in the day), Fighting Fantasy itself has aged rather badly; it was one of the strongest CYOA formats out there and yet today it comes across as both childishly simple and incredibly dated in terms of its structure and design. There was nothing wrong with Sorcery! as a concept, but the reliance on a twenty year-old adventure really let it down.
- Created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone after they sold their stake in Games Workshop. Ian Livingstone then went on to be president of Eidos Interactive, a UK developer/publisher who were responsible for some minor hits you may or may not have heard of. British gaming culture in general owes a lot to those two. ↩
- I’ve declaimed against the tablet format a couple of times on here so it might be a bit of a surprise that I own one; however, while it confirmed my views on tablet gaming I found it to be an excellent format for viewing PDFs of old game manuals and gaming magazines any time I want a nostalgia trip. So they do have a use. ↩