Tuesday, 17 August 2010

'The Warlock of Firetop Mountain' for iPhone

I've blogged before about how Fighting Fantasy had a huge impact on me when I was younger, and have also highlighted a few of my favourite titles. Given that I own every single gamebook in the series, not to mention the three spin-off novels, the Sorcery sub-series, and a few of the source material books, it's fair to say I'm a bit of an FF geek.

I was therefore pretty excited to find an iPhone app in the Apple store for the first book in the series - The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I was a tad skeptical at first, suspecting it might be a cheap, rushed adaptation of the original book.

I needn't have worried.

Put simply, this app is a hardcore fan's dream. It's essentially the gamebook in digital form, but with various little touches and flourishes that make the purchase worthwhile.

All of the interior illustrations are included, though for the first time they're in colour - a really nice touch that helps to build the atmosphere (I don't mind admitting that I squealed like a pig when I saw this). Dice rolls can be done automatically or with a simple shake of your iPhone, and naturally the app adds up all the scores during battles and keeps track of attribute scores. The adventure sheet is presented well, and picking up/dropping equipment is easy. There's some nice little musical effects as well, such as a triumphant trumpet ditty when you win a battle. Perhaps this all sounds a little gimmicky, and maybe it is...but it works extremely well, and it's a heck of a lot of fun.

Of course, it's not quite the same as playing the original gamebooks - there was something intrinsically enjoyable about rolling dice and pencilling in your attribute scores. Yet this is Fighting Fantasy for the 21st century, and let's face it: being able to adventure through the depths of Firetop Mountain while you're sitting on the bus is pretty damn cool. And I never could find any damned dice when I needed them...

As well as The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, there's also an app for Deathtrap Dungeon. Hopefully there'll be more; many of my favourite gamebooks came much later in the series, and it would be great to see them in digital form.

And for those of you that have never experienced the fun of pen and pencil dungeoneering, then what are you waiting for? Here's your chance (and you don't even need a pencil!).

1 comment:

J P Barnett said...

Nice article. I've been seeing discussions about this new 21st Century foray into gamebooks in many places over the internet over the past few months.

Early indications seem that the gamebook genre will have a winner here for another generation of readers. It will probably do no harm for increased sales of the books themselves...perhaps.

I have this rather amusing picture in my mind of standing at the front end of a bus, looking back, seeing tens of people sitting down looking at their iPhones and shaking them. If you didn't know any better, you would think that something had gone wrong with them, and people were shaking them to try and make them work again, (sort of like those in generations past would shake their transistor radio or bang it a bit if was being a bit of a nuisance). lol.