Saturday, 25 February 2012

Round 2: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, and/or 'cause I'm out of other ideas, I'm gonna give all the gamebooks I failed the first time around another go.

Except this time, I'm going to do the opposite of what I did last time, take into account suggestions left on the previous entries, generally try not to be as such a hopeless loser.

The first time around in The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, I made it past ol' Dragonball Z pictured on the cover (the 'Z' is for 'Zagor'), only to sit down on his treasure chest and have a sook, 'cause I couldn't open it.

What will happen this time? Well, whatever it is, it won't be cheating. I spent nearly an hour this evening trying to find my box of FF gamebooks - but it would have been easier finding the two parts of the Hammer of Stonebridge.

Then when I did find them - the books, not the hammer - in the bottom box of a pile of boxes, of course - the only one that was missing was The Warlock of Firetop Mountain! WTF?

So I downloaded the iPad app. Yeah, I get to use the iPad for once, instead of my three-year-old. So if I fail again, fuck you Steve Jobs!

To get my skill, stamina and luck scores, I have to shake the $1000 toy. Not a good start. I roll a skill of 7. Not a good start. Stamina 20, luck 9. The shakes needed are quite vigorous too - by the end of this, I probably won't need to go to the gym tomorrow.

Actually, with a skill of 7, I probably won't even make it to the gym.

So, let's get started! Hey, what do all these buttons do? *press one* Oh, that was quit. Now I have to re-roll... 12 /17/9. Ooer, that's much better! Honest.

There's also the option to read the book in whatever font you like. Even Helvetica! This quest just got a whole lot more sophisticated. But kind of sucky, so back to Georgia it is. FF just ain't FF in sans-serif.

I come across a door, and I have to roll my skill. I try clicking on the 'success' button, but am denied! No more cheating, it would seem. Another shake of the iPad, an increased heart rate (seriously, they're not cheap) and I succeed, 'cause I can't fail. Every time I shake the iPad for a foregone conclusion, I'm going to bill Ian Livingstone a dollar.

I fall into a pit, losing 1 stamina point. As I leave the room, a giant scroll appears, ramming home the fact I just lost 1 stamina point. It even has a sound effect! I shudder to think what will happen when I lose two. I wonder if I'll get the sound of someone crunching on a carrot when I eat a feed?

I'll probably find out soon, as I wake a sleeping orc. Fight time! Oh dear. Fights on the iPad are interminable! Half the time I shake the iPad, nothing happens. Then when the dice actually roll, it insists on adding the rolls to your skill score slower than a six-year-old!

Oh, you can just click on the screen... never mind.

Next door - isn't that just the drunk orcs? Next one. Snake - key! Yay. (See how much faster everything goes when I don't have to risk mashing my iPad on the ceiling?)

Next room - oh, here are the drunken orcs. And here's where I discover the first problem with just clicking the screen during fights - if you click the wrong option, like 'ESCAPE!', there's no going back. D'oh!

This time around, I'm noticing how many stuck doors there are in Firetop Mountain, and I'm enjoying how having a skill of 12 is pretty much like having a skeleton key to the whole dungeon, that's actually my shoulder. Except when it comes to opening chests, of course.

Next up I find a circular iron shield, which I can only take by dropping one item I'm already carrying. The ebook thinks I'm still carrying the Potion of Strength I drank a few pages back, so thinking I'm outsmarting the game, I drop it... only to realise having unlimited Potions of Strength could actually have come in handy further down the track. Damnit.

Something I didn't have last time I played was cheese, which I got this time. Hopefully not unlimited cheese. That might begin to smell eventually. Though, if I had unlimited cheese, I'd have no need to be in this dungeon, since my life would already be complete.

Got my second key at the minotaur - I'm definitely feeling lucky, despite just wandering at random again. Hell, it was four years and one day ago I last played this book, I can't remember which way I'm not meant to go!

Next stop is a room of paintings that look innocuous in their original black and white, or black and sepia, as they were in the original book, but obviously NOT TO BE LOOKED AT in the iPad version, which renders them with evil glowing faces. I think I'll just skip on through this room...

So, past the river and onto the maze, I'm quickly knocked out and awake "in the south-west" corner of a room full of zombies. Good to know despite suffering a concussion and being kidnapped whilst unconscious, I still have my innate sense of orientation.

Or at least I thought I did. A few 'pages' later, I'm onto the real maze. It's not as painful when you're just clicking links, not worrying about page numbers - just where I'm going to find this third damn key.

Or at least that's what I thought. The maze was as painful as ever, and took nearly 20 minutes of clicking around to get through. Imagine turning all those pages...

By the time I get to Zagor himself, I've got three keys - hopefully the right ones. Dispatch him while sustaining barely even a scratch, and then it's onto the chest - and it opens! Holy shit.

For the first time ever, I get to read page 400 of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain - and it doesn't disappoint. Forget the booty - the chest also contains instructions on how to control Firetop Mountain, and everything within it! That's awesome. What if you took over the mountain, and just to keep things simple, decided to call yourself Zagor? And 49 books later, it's YOU the adventurer is coming to kill?

So not fuck you, Steve Jobs. Thank you!