Recent-ish Reviews



Feedback isn't something that we got a lot of here, which sometimes makes it hard to estimate what fans want to read in the magazine. Luckily, we've been reviewed a couple of times recently. The first is a review of issue #5 in the French fan magazine Draco Venturus (issue #3 is due out in June!) which is dedicated to gamebooks in general as opposed to our tighter focus on Fighting Fantasy.

Here is a translation of the review (both the original review and translation are by Adrien Maudet):

Since September 2009, the English-speaking world of gamebooks knows the regular publication of  Fighting Fantazine, an amateur fanzine dedicated to the Fighting Fantasy books, successfully taking up the torch of the mythical magazine Warlock.

The fifth issue is available for free download since the beginning of February 2011. It is endowed with a great feature, Turn to Paragraph 400, who reveals outcomes of the survey made last year with the readers, in partnership with the publisher Wizard Books.

70 gamebooks of the series were classified according to their score at first in various categories (intrigue, game, atmosphere and illustrations), then in a general ranking. The happy winners are... You have to read the fanzine to know them! 

Besides a global analysis of the ranking, each of the first ten books benefits from an essay explaining the reasons of its success. These analysis are very enthusiastic without missing relevance, not hesitating for instance to take the necessary hindsight on the methodology having led to rankings. As for the bottom of the class, it is the subject of the regular funny column, Figthing Dantasy.  Let's play billiard!

We also find the other usual columns. The rich current events in English-speaking interactive literature is covered in Omens and Auguries, Jamie Fry, the collector of Fighting Fantasy Collector, is invited at Ian Livingstone's home for a meeting marked by nostalgia (meeting which leaves us unsatisfied because we learn nothing about the next FF book written by the co-founder of the series), the second part of The Adventure Game explains us how to plan the writing of a gamebook and Graham Bottley is interviewed about the eagerly awaited republication of   Advanced Fighting Fantasy.

Finally let us end this review of the fanzine with Dungeons and Dinosaurs, a big interview of John Sibbick (illustrator, among others, of Midnight Rogues). Today, he works as paleoartist by illustrating dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals (an argument furthermore in favor of the link held between the universe of the paleontology and universe of rpg : an article of the first issue of Draco Venturus is about this point!). The interview learns us on the route of the artist and is richly informed by preparatory sketches of covers illustrations.

To conclude (and before approaching the heart of any magazine dedicated to the genre, namely its interactive adventure), we can only invite everyone understanding English to get absorbed in these rich and fascinating 104 pages!

Bones of the Banished

This adventure of 274 sections takes you on the Plain of Bones, located in the southeast of Allansia. You are a young member of a tribe of hunters. Ngodo, leader of your people, died during a   dinosaurs hunt without appointing successor. It is to the shaman Valgrek that returns the duty to summon the spirits of your ancestors to decide on the future of the tribe. So the new head will be appointed by the Rite of Banishment: during two days, all the men old enough to hunt will be excluded from the village and will have to look in the surrounding nature for the biggest and most terrible creatures. The one returning with the most impressive trophy will be crowned new leader of the tribe.

This synopsis heralds an original beginning of adventure. The first part of the quest will consist in going through the rather well described wilderness of the Plain of Bones to chase fierce creatures inspired from a mainly but not only prehistoric bestiary. So beside dinosaurs, we shall find big cats of all kinds or humanoids, such Lizards-Men of Silur Cha or Neanderthals , eternal enemies your tribe.

But rather quickly, the outlines of an intrigue more complex than a simple hunt are set up. A new mission will appear in the middle of the adventure, and will send you to investigate the ruins sprinkling the plain that are the vestiges haunted by a fallen empire.
Globally the adventure distances itself with its wild atmosphere which does not deprive it of  interesting npc, as the rival hunters who you can meet on the plain, or some surprising meetings, as  a Dwarf armed with a strange wooden stick spitting fire.

On the other hand, it is a rather difficult adventure. Reaching a successful ending will oblige you to put the hand on indispensable items. That's a rather frustrating thing since you can choose from the beginning several different ways. Some too frequent sudden deaths will come to increase the difficulty of the game.

Let us end with the illustrations which are here the fact of the author, Brett Schofield. The quality is very good, they depicts especially the terrible lizards for some of its. Distinction to the Natalie Gingerboom's magnificent cover too.
To conclude, Bones of the Banished is an adventure with an original intrigue, well written and exploiting intelligently the background of Allansia. Its difficulty and its old-school design can prevent the least persevering people reaching the end of the story, but that will not deprive them to pass a good moment in a very nice adventure.
Here's the original French from the issue (#2):
Depuis septembre 2009, le monde anglophone des livres-jeux connaît la publication régulière de Fighting Fantazine, une revue amateur dédiée aux Défis Fantastiques, reprenant avec succès le flambeau du mythique magazine Warlock

Le cinquième numéro est disponible en téléchargement gratuit depuis le début du mois de février. Il est doté d'un grand dossier, Turn to Paragraph 400, qui dévoile les résultats de l'enquête effectuée l'année dernière auprès des lecteurs, en partenariat avec l'éditeur Wizard. Les 70 livres-jeux que compte la licence ont été classés en fonction de leur score d'abord dans différentes catégories (intrigue, jeu, ambiance et illustrations), puis dans un classement général. Les heureux gagnants sont … Et bien il faudra aller lire le fanzine pour les connaître ! En plus d'une analyse globale du classement, chacun des dix premiers livres se voit bénéficier d'un essai expliquant les raisons de son succès. Ces analyses sont très enthousiastes sans pour autant manquer de pertinence, n'hésitant pas par exemple à prendre le recul nécessaire sur la méthodologie ayant mené aux classements. Quant à la lanterne rouge, elle est l'objet de la chronique humoristique régulière, Figthing Dantasy. Un petit billard ?

On retrouve aussi les autres rubriques habituelles. La riche actualité en matière de littérature interactive anglophone est couverte dans Omens and Auguries, Jamie Fry, le collectionneur de Fighting Fantasy Collector, est invité au domicile de Ian Livingstone pour une rencontre empreinte de nostalgie (rencontre qui nous laisse  sur notre faim car nous n’apprenons rien quant au nouveau Défis que rédige le co-fondateur de la série), la deuxième partie de The Adventure Game nous explique comment planifier l'écriture d'un livre-jeu et Graham Bottley est interviewé au sujet de la très attendue réédition de Advanced Fighting Fantasy.

Enfin terminons cette revue du fanzine par Dungeons and Dinosaurs, une grande interview de John Sibbick (illustrateur, entre autres, des Rôdeurs de la Nuit et des Sceaux de la Destruction). Aujourd'hui, il travaille en tant que paléoartiste en illustrant dinosaures et autres animaux préhistoriques (un argument de plus en faveur du lien tenu entre l'univers de la paléontologie et du jeu de rôle, sujet d'un article dans le premier numéro de Draco Venturus !). L'entretien nous apprend beaucoup sur le parcours de l'artiste et est richement documenté par des croquis préparatoires d'illustrations de couvertures.

Pour conclure (et avant d'aborder le cœur de toute revue dédiée au genre, à savoir son aventure interactive), nous ne pouvons qu'inviter toute personne lisant l'anglais de se jeter sur ces 104 pages riches et passionnantes !

Bones of the Banished

Cette aventure de 274 paragraphes vous emmène sur la Plaine des Ossements, située au sud-est du continent Allansien. Vous êtes un jeune membre d'une tribu de chasseurs. Ngodo, leader de votre peuple est mort au cours d'une chasse au dinosaure, et ce sans avoir désigné d'héritier. C'est donc au chaman Valgrek que revient le devoir de se tourner vers les esprits de vos ancêtres pour décider du futur de la tribu. Ainsi le nouveau chef sera désigné à l'issu du Rite de l’Exil : pendant deux jours, tous les hommes en âge de chasser seront exclus du village et devront chercher dans la nature environnante les plus grosses et terribles créatures. Celui revenant avec le trophée le plus impressionnant sera sacré nouveau chef de la tribu.

Voilà un synopsis qui propose un début d'aventure original. La première partie de la quête consistera donc à parcourir les environnements sauvages et plutôt bien décrits de la Plaine des Ossements pour y pourchasser des créatures parmi les plus féroces issues d'un bestiaire en grande partie préhistorique, mais pas seulement. Ainsi aux côtés des dinosaures, on retrouvera des félins de toutes sortes ou encore des humanoïdes, tels les Hommes-Lézards de l'Empire de Silur Cha ou les Néandertaliens, ennemis de toujours de votre tribu. 
Mais assez rapidement, les contours d'une intrigue plus complexe qu'une simple partie de chasse se mettent en place. Une nouvelle mission apparaîtra au milieu de l'aventure, et vous enverra explorer les ruines qui jonchent la plaine, vestiges hantés d'un ancien empire aujourd'hui disparu.
Globalement l'aventure se démarque avec son ambiance sauvage qui ne la prive pas pour autant de pnj intéressants, comme les chasseurs de trophées rivaux que vous pourrez rencontrer sur la plaine, ou quelques rencontres surprenantes, comme celle d'un Nain armé d'un étrange bâton de bois crachant le feu.

Par contre, c'est une aventure assez difficile, qui pour être menée à bien vous obligera à mettre la main sur des objets indispensables, chose plutôt frustrante quand on vous propose dès le début plusieurs chemins pour mener à bien votre mission. Quelques morts subites un peu trop fréquentes viendront encore corser le tout. 
Terminons enfin par les illustrations qui sont ici le fait de l'auteur, Brett Schofield.  De très bonne qualité, elles mettent surtout en scène les terribles lézards pour une bonne partie d'entre elles. Mention aussi à la magnifique couverture de Natalie Gingerboom.
Pour conclure, voilà donc un Défis Fantastique à l'intrigue relativement originale, au style correcte et qui exploite avec intelligence le background de l'Allansie. Sa difficulté et sa construction classique pourront empêcher les moins persévérants d'en voir le bout, ce qui ne les privera pas de passer un bon moment dans une aventure plus que sympathique.

We were also reviewed by Ashton Saylor on his blog. I'm not really sure how to respond to this review without sounding a bit negative.

Ah well, you can't win them all.
Comments (2)

Issue #8 - Publlished!

Issue #8 is now available for download from the new site: http://fightingfantazine.co.uk/
104 pages of Fighting Fantasy goodness. Feedback appreciated. (Printing password: fanta).
Comments (4)

Coming Soon - Issue 8 Cover


Here is the cover to the forthcoming issue. Just a couple of tweaks left and it should be ready. Still looks to be on track for release before the end of the month!
Comments

Vengeance at Midnight - Sneak Peek

Here's a sneak peek at the art and text of the mini adventure for issue #7:

The Crooked Man pawnshop on 23rd Avenue isn’t the nicest looking of places, with all manner of odd objects in the window for sale. The inside you observe, as you head for the barricaded counter, is not much better. You ring the bell and a tall, thin man with dark bags under his eyes and a toothpick in the corner of his mouth comes shuffling out to greet you. This, presumably, is Korbin Rokefetch the proprietor of the shop.
This is Vengeance at Midnight (a sequel to Appointment with F.E.A.R. and Deadline to Destruction) and is written and illustrated by myself:

Rumours are swirling in the Titan City underworld that a new super villain is poised to unleash a new reign of terror upon the unsupecting city. YOU, the Silver Crusader, defender of Titan City, are needed to unmask and defeat this super villain before the chaos can spread. But can you unravel the hints and clues you have gathered in time to make a difference?
Comments

Weaving an eBook World - Sneak Peek

Issue #8 features an interview with Chris Sterling of Worldweaver about their adaptions of the gamebooks for the Kindle:

How much input do Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone have in your adaptions?
Both Steve and Ian took a keen interest in the adaptations, and we worked very closely to get the combat and map just right. It took six months to perfect the gamebook engine, which can now be used on the entire series by only changing graphics and data files. The publishing team at Amazon were great too, championing the games as a useful improvement to a popular series.

Issue #8 is hopefully due out at the end of the month!
Comments

Coming Soon - Issue 8

Welcome to the first blog post of 2012, the anniversary year. There is a lot of anticipation in the wind since Ian Livingstone made it known he was definitely writing a new Fighting Fantasy adventure for the 30th anniversary of the range. Meanwhile, issue 8 (I can't quite believe it either, 8!) of the Fantazine is coming together. I'm still aiming for a late January release. In the meantime, here is a list of contents to whet your appetites:
  • The mini adventure Vengeance at Midnight by Alexander Ballingall
  • A new mini AFF adventure, The Tower of Credos by Graham Bottley
  • An interview with Ross Brierley, one of the team behind the Laughing Jackal PSP versions of the gamebooks
  • An interview with Chris Sterling, one of the team behind the Worldweaver Kindle versions of the gamebooks
  • An interview with Jamie Fry, the new Warlock in charge of the official website
  • Part 2 of Aida Rintarou's comic adventure The Book in Which You are the Hero
  • Chapter 4 of "Aelous Raven and the Wrath of the Sea-Witch" by Ian Brocklehurst
  • Part 6 of "Everything I Need to Know I Learnt from Reading Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks" by Ed Jolley
  • More gamebooks news with "Omens & Auguries" from Guillermo Parades
  • "The Arcane Archive" reviews the GA tale Temple of the Spider God
  • Dan Satherley's column looks for a win with Appointment with F.E.A.R.
  • Finally, Jamie Fry continues his exploration of the world of FF collecting
Comments

Tempting Talismans - Sneak Peek

Issue #8 features an interview with Ross Brierley of Laughing Jackal about their adaptions of the gamebooks for the PlayStation:

How familiar were you with Fighting Fantasy before this undertaking?
As a kid I used to play a lot of Dungeons & Dragons and HeroQuest so when my cousin gave me a game that I could play on my own and not have to wait until other like minded people were available, it was amazing. From then on I was hooked, and I remember playing through loads of gamebooks from several series, including a lot of books from the Fighting Fantasy series.

Issue #8 is out in January!
Comments

Contributor Spotlight - Jamie Fry


This entry is the first in an irregular series highlighting the people behind the material for the magazine. We kick off with Jamie Fry...

Jamie is a long-established part of online Fighting Fantasy and the man in charge of the website Fighting Fantasy Collector. This made him the natural choice for a column on collecting for the magazine when the team were casting about for ideas for material. As part of his interesting in collecting Fighting Fantasy-related paraphernalia he developed the "Collector's Guide" (a listing of every known Fighting Fantasy collectable). Other items of interest to fans can be found on his eBay site. He can be found on The Unofficial Fighting Fantasy Forum! as "Unclebundle".

He seems to be a natural choice as ambassador thanks to his love of the game book series and his rapport with Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. This has recently led to him becoming the new "Warlock" of the official website and we wish him well with his endeavors to get the site up-to-date and relevant once more.

Jamie will be interviewed in issue #8 (due out January 2012).
Comments