Even men currently in the midst of a mid-life crisis retain a soft spot in their darkening hearts for the Fighting Fantasy series of interactive novels from the early 1980s.
Of course, these successful books eventually proved to be just a short evolutionary spurt between Dungeons & Dragons and the silicon-based interactivity of computer games.
Yet - and who would have thought it? - 30 years on, the brand still lives, with a physical book - from the brain and pen of co-creator Ian Livingstone - as well as a mobile phone version now available for the all-new Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies.
The latter has been developed by Australian developer Tin Man games, which has built up its own successful mobile-based interactive storytelling series Gamebook Adventures.
We spoke to creative director Neil Rennison about the experience.
Pocket Gamer: From Tin Man's point of view, what was interesting about getting involved with the new Fighting Fantasy book as you have your own successful universe in this format?
Neil Rennison: When we originally devised Gamebook Adventures a few years ago, Fighting Fantasy was definitely one of our major inspirations. It is an amazing opportunity to develop the app for Ian's new book and to get the licence for the rest of the series.
What was most interesting for me was having the opportunity of working with two of my childhood heroes and Tin Man Games being given the responsibility of taking their 'baby' and moulding it into a new digital form.
It's certainly a responsibility we don't take lightly!
As far as Blood of the Zombies goes, it's been a lot of fun seeing the book come together. One of Ian's big changes to previous Fighting Fantasy game books was to simplify combat and make it more punchy, aiming to appeal to a modern gaming audience more. This has worked in our favour as we are essentially producing a computer game of the game book.
What was the development process like?
We obviously got to see the final book early on and spent a lot of time breaking it down and finding ways to adapt it to our Gamebook Adventures Engine.
In fact, we ended up changing a lot of the engine to suit the game book rather than the other way round. This was a good decision as it not only keeps the integrity of the original printed game book, but it also ensures we can better hit the ground running when we come to produce future Fighting Fantasy titles.
We also worked with Ian a lot with various aspects especially with regards to the colorisation of Kevin Crossley's black and white artwork and the overall look. And Ian kindly went back and wrote about 70 new gruesome death endings for us.
With digital game books we have no print restrictions, so it's great for us to offer something extra for the Fighting Fantasy fans and make dying a little more fun!
Are there any cross platform features for people who buy the book and the app?
Yes. Owners of the app have the opportunity to access the Icon Books website and buy the paperback version, which will also include an A2 poster of Greg Staples' front cover.
Thanks to Neil for his time.
And you can read our interview with Ian Livingstone here.
Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies is now available on iOS (and will be available on Android soon) priced $5.99, €4.99, £3.99. [iTunes link]