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Fighting Fantasy : Talisman of Death and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Review (PS3/PSP)

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First and foremost I would like to thank Calmdowntom for sending me the codes for this. To me this has been a delve back into my childhood past and despite the fact that it’s now on a PS3 instead of in a green book, its a delightful nostalgic experience all the same.

So let’s set the nostalgic time machine to 1982. Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston published a Fighting Fantasy book called The Warlock of Firetop Mountain which was published by Puffin books. Successful as this was, it led to a whole series. So why so popular? Well the books simply state A Fighting Fantasy gamebook in which YOU are the hero!. It wasn’t like any fantasy book you had picked up and read before. No, this didn’t follow the rules of a linear book, this gave you choices! Choices that involved you turning to a certain page to see what fate lay next. As a child I always remembered being excited facing the various different creatures that you came across. Were they friends or were they foe? Your actions could decided that fate.

So let’s take that nostalgic time machine to 2011 and see what changed in almost 30 years? Well we now have Laughing Jackal initially releasing two of the books, with The Talisman of Death and The Warlock of Firetop Mountain for the Playstation portable and PS3. It takes the format of a book displayed on your screen and goes through the rules of what you had to do if it were an actual book. This means you have to pick cards that reflect you skill stamina and luck. These are the attributes your character has that aid him through his various quests and fights.

So you start your quest and quickly face your first enemy. Unlike before in the actual books it’s not a case of luck of the dice but your skill stamina and luck that have an effect on what the outcome will be. You’re taken to a fight screen where there’s a board with cards that are hits on the creature or hits on you and even cards that make you miss your target. They get randomized and you have to pick the right card. However, you can choose to play with the dice and the roll of the dice plus what your attributes are at the time must beat that of the creature your fighting. The attributes of skill luck and stamina can be further boosted by armor or weapons that you wield and Items can be used to recover lost attributes too. The advantage to the Playstation version is that all your stats are automatically recorded. All items are automatically placed in your inventory. No looking for that bit of paper to see what weapons you once had.

However if you looking for something visually stunning you won’t find it. It’s basically a book on your tv screen. Despite this, pictures of the creatures you encounter can be viewed and are artistically rendered. You also have a generic fantasy music that plays in the background but if this gets so annoying you can easily switch it off. Now I played it on the PS3 and found it very easy to read, but I’m not sure how the Playstation portable screen would be. My guess a lot of straining eyes to read what’s on the tiny screen. This takes me to my next point, this can get a bit sore on the eyes reading from your tv screen after a while too.

In conclusion I love this. It’s a return to an aspect of my childhood and addictive to play. Will it capture a new range of 21st century gamers in the same way? Maybe, who knows. iPads and Kindles are ideal platform for this type of game, and its available on most of those too. I just hope a new generation of kids will come to appreciate the joys of what I once had back in the nostalgic 80s.

8 skill, luck and stamina points out of 10


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