While we're still on the subject of childhood books, I figured this would be a good time to drag out another childhood favorite of mine: LONE WOLF!
Remember those old Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA)books that used to come out by the truck load back in the 80's? Those were great at first, but by the 3954th book that you've read about another mission in Mars or another Egyptian adventure where you chose between running away to the East or running away to the West, I kinda wished there was something similar that was more fun.
Enter the Lone Wolf gamebooks.
I LOVED the old Lone Wolf gamebooks by Joe Dever because they were just so cool. Come to think of it, I think those books more than anything else, fueled a childhood love for swords, magic, dragons and monsters; so much that by the time I read The Hobbit and LOTR, I was wishing they'd come up with a gamebook for LOTR as well. I even had Lego versions of the Sommerswerd and the Dagger of Vashna.
According to Demian's Gamebook Web Page, the books are actually a "continuing fantasy storyline with character advancement, strategic inventory management and above-average writing, these are in the top three of famous interactive book series right along with Fighting Fantasy and Choose Your Own Adventure."
The reader controls Lone Wolf, the last survivor of an order of green-robed warrior-monks known as the Kai, as he grows in power and wisdom and overcomes his nemeses, the Darklords of Helgedad.
The gameplay was simple. In each book, Lone Wolf has a mission, and you chose the path which Lone Wolf uses to get to the end of the mission. Along the way, you have to fight, and make 'tough' decisions (some random), and you handled all these with the help of a funny number system where you poked your pencil at a page full of random numbers.
Kinda like rolling dice, but with a page from a Form Five Buku Log.
The best part of the character was his special abilities you could choose. Stuff like Mind over Matter (moving objects with your mind), Sixth Sense (something like Spider sense without the spider), Animal Kinship (making buddy-buddy with animals), Tracking, and some others I can't remember. These were really fun.
There were actually almost 20 Lone Wolf books published all together. The first twelve were Lone Wolf's adventures before he reaches Grand Master status, which were the best ones. After that, Lone Wolf's Grand Master status pretty much makes him rather invinsible, and books 13-20 were a breeze, so to speak. (Another extra eight books had readers make a whole new character themselves instead of Lone Wolf, but those just weren't fun anymore.)
The books have all gone out of print now. In fact, I'm the only person I know who STILL has the complete set of books 1-20 (actually, I'm the only person I know who actually READ them. Anyone else?)
Another gamebook series that I love even MORE than Lone Wolf was Grailquest.
This is a wacky parody of King Arthur, where the lead character (YOU) is a wannabe adventurer from the future called Pip (Yes. P-I-P), who wields a sawn-off version of Excalibur called EJ (Excalibur Junior).
EJ talks. He's sarcastic. He also gives you +8 on all Hits when you fight. Nuff' said.
Although this was a 'Gamebook', I never got around to PLAYING it. The gameplay used dice and was just too messy for me. Besides, it was too much fun READING it than playing it anyway.
Among the funny things was the "Number 14" gag. 14 was the number of the page you went to whenever you died in EVERY BOOK. so, when you fight, and you lose, you had to Go to 14.
Don't ask me why. Damn funny though.
I blame my very weird sense of humour and my love for British humour on Grailquest. Some of the stuff is just so silly. Stuff like:
Glug, Glug, Glug.
That's the sound of you drowning, Pip. Wanna hear it again?
Glug, Glug, Glug.
You also had crazy tasks where you had to build weird paper ships, and compose poems for the World's Worst Poet. Literally.
Words can't describe how funny this books were. Too bad it only lasted 8 books, and I only have six of them. Sigh.
Anyway, go check out this site: Demian's Gamebook Web Page. It has lots of stuff on gamebooks. Very nostalgic. :-)