Friday, 19 December 2008

#29 - Midnight Rogue

So I skipped past Midnight Rogue 15 or so books ago 'cause I didn't have a copy, and referred to it then as "fondly-remembered". It's perhaps unfortunate my copy arrived in the mail this week, coming right after the much-lauded font change and the excellent Legend of the Shadow Warriors. Why? Because from one reading, I get the impression Blacksand deserved more.

I distinctly remember the *twist* ending from childhood, and despite this found the mission a little... serious. It was great the book gave you new skills and a limited inventory for sure, but compared to the freedom to wander that has emerged in comparatively recent FF entries, Midnight Rogue feels a little forced.

So anyway, you're a prospective member of the thieves' guild, a reasonably overground-sounding operation for a relatively underground-ish trade, even recognising this is Blacksand, after all. You're assigned a mission to retrieve some kind of jewel, perhaps even the one on the cover so lusted after by inanimate stone gargoyles, but who knows.

First off I decide to hit up the Merchants' Guild, considering the intro suggests I visit the merchant Brass, who apparently has the object of desire. His symbol is a coin, so when I'm soon given the option of trying the door with the coin or that of the fish, I choose the coin. I'm here to get the prize, not find Jesus

Getting into the guild HQ is a mission in itself. There's not only a guard so corrupt I can't pay him off, but tribbles. Except here they're called jib-jibs, there's only one, and it has a skill and stamina I can count on however many fingers it is I need to insult you in whatever country you're in. 

Once into the merchants' guild, there's a beggar - further proof the credit cunt is hitting even those stuck in medieval fantasy gamebooks - he gives me a skeleton key set I don't need, and through a series of situations where I'm not given the option to leave or even knock, I get into trouble and am arrested. 

It's not written into the game script, but thinking logically, so many of these situations could have been defused by a simple knock first. I know I'm a thief and all, but hey. Common sense?

On this play through, I can't say Midnight Rogue lived up to what I'd expected, though I'm not sure that's fully down to the fact it's not that good - it could be that it's just not as good as the 40s bunch of books, or that I took the wrong routes. Wandering through Blacksand has to be one of my favourite things to do in FF, and this just didn't pull it off for me tonight.

A little disappointing considering how much I was looking forward to it, but worth a shot definitely.


Anonymous said...

The fact that you have 7 skills to choose from in the beginning is rather deceptive, because it quickly becomes clear that you can gain 4 of the skills in the books, so the choice of which 3 you should pick at the beginning (the 3 which you don't gain in the book) becomes fairly limited.

Although, Secret Signs and Spot Hidden are usually interchangeable (if you have one you probably won't need the other), that's just about the only freedom you rewally have, since all the rest of the skills are pretty important.

Anonymous said...

It is possible to succeed without gaining any extra skills along the way as long as you pick the correct three at the start.

Acquiring the Sneak skill during the adventure is actually quite tricky, because you need to do comparatively badly in a combat to get it.

Anonymous said...

Pick the correct skills and pass all the extra stat rolls that the book puts you through for those skills you don't have. :) Yeah, it's true that the book isn't realy as harsh compared to some of the later books in punishing you for not having certain skills. You can usually still succeed via skill or luck tests if you don't have the required special skills.

Sneak I usually pick from the start instead of trying to fail that Skill roll. I drop Spot Hidden in favour of it, because like I said, if you have Secret Signs you seldom need Spot Hidden, and vice versa.

And I suppose Climb wasn't really that useful as well, come to think of it. Hmmm....maybe I should play through it again. My memory is getting rusty. :P

Lock Picking is definitely a must, whether as a starting skill or via the lockpicks.

foadiron said...

Really loved this one: one of my favourite non Jackson-Livingstone adventures.

It felt different for a change; it was different most of the time, and the excellent artwork did the book no harm, nor did the 'illusion' of a selection of special skills.

Only right at the end did it turn into your normal dungeon crawler.

FightingFantasyFan said...

I didn't like Midnight Rogue at all. Keith Martin has done some of my favorite FFs... but he also did this which is among my Bottom Five anti-favorites.

The town itself is okay, some clever sneaking and fairly ordinary FF gameplay. Good stuff. But the dungeon is a straight gauntlet, not even a fork in the path. (maps at my own site

Yeah, they got lazy on this one. After City of Thieves I agree, that Port Blacksand deserved much better than this.