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The Warlock of Firetop Mountain

For: iPhone


Product: Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain | Developer: Big Blue Bubble | Format: iPhone | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.1
Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain iPhone, thumbnail 1
It was a long, long, time ago, but I can still remember the arrival of Fighting Fantasy.

Marketed as a Dungeons and Dragons book-based experience for little kids without the sort of friends who called themselves Gandalf and owned 20-sided die, it was a flawed phenomenon.

Not that this stopped the multi-million sales or the 50-odd titles published. The number of people who played the books properly, however, could be counted on one hand.

After all, why would you spend time rolling die and knocking off stamina points, and dying, and starting from page 1 again when all you had to do was cheat and say 'Yes. I won that battle' and turn to page 391?

Despite this, the books, in which you performed die-based actions and chose which non-sequential page to turn to to complete your adventure, were fun to 'play'.

There was a story of sorts, the illustrations were good, and some of the later books even attempted to stop casual cheating with the inclusion of special page codes. Of course, brute hacking by checking every page was still possible, and in many ways, more fun than solving the puzzle legitimately.

Basically, with Fighting Fantasy, you bought the book and made your own fun.

Fighting Fantasy: The iRemake

Bringing the first five books to iPhone is another thing entirely. For one thing, you can't cheat now. Equally, Fighting Fantasy was very UK-centric and hasn't aged terribly well in terms of the scope of role-playing games now available.

Yet, the surprising thing, at least for those of us who 'played' the books first time around, is that removing the need to fiddle around with dice to work out battles reinvigorates the experience.

Now, when dice are required, you just shake your iDevice or tap the screen. The game rolls virtual examples and works out whose skill is highest, and whether you're lucky or not. (These are comparisons between you and your enemy's stats, or your luck rating versus the total of two die.)

And, significantly, developer Big Blue Bubble has been completely faithful to the book form, too, so even when it could have automated certain actions you'll have to physically press arrow links to keep the story moving forward. There remains a link to the non-computerised past.

From wizard to Warlock

As for the specifics of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the game has you wandering around in the tunnels under the mountain, sneaking past goblins guards, fighting vampires, ghouls and zombies, opening doors to discover what lies behind, and collecting the various items, notably numbered keys, that will ease your journey and enable you to gain the Warlock's treasure.

To some degree, this is the game's principle weakness, as effectively you have to try everything in order to work out what's important in terms of information and items.

You could cheat and look up the internet walkthroughs, but sketching a map when you're lost in the Maze of Zagor, and dying several times to realise you shouldn't open that box or check out that particular rotting corpse, remain parts of the experience that work. Unlike physically rolling die.

Yet, anyone without nostalgia-tinted specs is likely to find this incredibly slow and lacking in terms of interactive options. The rest of you might be pleasantly surprised.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
Reviewer photo
Jon Jordan | 19 January 2010
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain feels dated, but anyone who experienced the Fighting Fantasy books as a kid should enjoy reliving the past
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