Best Games - The Fighting Fantasy Book Series
You ever play a roguelike? A game where you have one run through a gauntlet of obstacles. When your character dies you go back to the start and try again, using what you learned on previous runs to get further and further each time. Imagine that, but a book.
A few short years after the creation of the first Choose Your Own Adventure books and the game Dungeons and Dragons, a couple of industrious writers decided to mix the two together. The result, rather than being a dungeon crawling choose your own adventure, turned out to be more like a story based roguelike. You had one shot to optimise your randomly rolled characters progress through the story. If they died or you chose poorly and got a bad ending you had to scrap your character sheet and start over at the beginning.
Of course no one ever played through the books like that. When the quickload system is as easy as putting a finger in between the pages and then flipping back if a choice or combat outcome turned out negatively, you fudge the numbers until you got all the endings. At least for me, it was only after I had ‘beat’ the book that I decided to see if I could make a run through to the end playing strictly by the rules. Most of the time I didn’t make it. A few of the books required some pretty lucky dice rolls to succeed.
Really though, when everything is considered, the fighting fantasy series didn’t do anything earthshakingly inventive. They were neat, and of their time, and that’s about it. It’s really only when you combine the infocom text adventures like Zork, the tabletop collaborative narrative games like Dungeons and Dragons, and systems based computer games like Rogue that were all being made in the late 70s and early 80s that you can see the profound impact they will collectively make on games over the next decades. Games went from being strictly intellectual or gambling based pastimes, to being a medium that could tell a story. Games became the only medium where you could not only be the audience for that story but a collaborator in its telling. Very early on the Fighting Fantasy series of books were out front and testing those waters.
The Fighting Fantasy book series deserves to be amoung the best games.