I've been looking forward to introducing this bit with a small accounting of gamebooks written by people better known for their non-gamebook endeavors. In 1985 noted science fiction author Harry Harrison took the unusual step of penning his own gamebook tie-in, You Can Be The Stainless Steel Rat. Slowly crawling his way up the gaming totem pole, Warren Spector of later video game fame (Ultima Underworld, System Shock, Deus Ex) paid the bills scribing a licensed Marvel Comics gamebook for TSR, 1987's One Thing After Another. Another former TSR bright light, no less than Gary Gygax, wrote a line of Sagard the Barbarian gamebooks starting in 1985 with Flint Dille. Infamous kid-lit one-man-industry R.L. Stine (or "Jovial Bob Stine" as he was known in the earlier days) has the dubious distinction of writing gamebooks both as they first began appearing in bookstores for the first time (1982's Twistaplot line, among many others) and as the last huzzah of the declining phenomenon, with gamebook tie-ins to his own child-chilling Goosebumps franchise through 2000.
Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw, best known as the game reviewer from Zero Punctuation, has tried to engage Lester Bangs' concern that all music critics were failed rock stars -- and has tried his hand at numerous genres of games, including but not limited to text adventures, graphical point'n'click adventure games, and even a little choose-your-own-adventure in 2002, which you can see in its original form over here. I've taken the liberty of throwing in some hypertext anchors and internal links so it can be played with the mere click of the mouse without having to onerously find the appropriate section yourself.
FIGHT OR FLIGHT?
How would YOU do in the great battle of evolution?
Find out in this nifty choose-your-own-adventure experience! Start at 1, and go to the appropriate passage when you're told. See how many ways you can die!
This is you:
A protozoan. Single-celled animal, the very bottom of the evolutionary ladder. On the bright side, the only way is up.
You will be faced with numerous possible predators or prey. All you have to decide is whether you want to FIGHT ... or FLIGHT? I mean, fly.
Here's the first scenario. You are floating around in the primordial soup when suddenly you come across:
A COLD VIRUS!
Poor, maligned, misunderstood cold virus, ex-convict, petty criminal and bringer of blocked noses everywhere. Who could have a defence against such a formidable enemy?
What's it going to be? FIGHT (turn to 19) ... or FLIGHT? (turn to 7)
You have chosen to FIGHT the Larch!
Intimidated though you are by the sheer size of the Larch, let's not forget that the thing can't actually move. You enjoy a few minutes of wearing your teeth down before the whole thing topples. But now your huge choppers are smaller than you'd like, and you're starting to develop thumbs on your feet. You have evolved into an APE! Go to 18!
Living in a small village community with the other neanderthal men, you are truly a force to be reckoned with. But wait, who's this coming up to pay his respects?
It's NEANDERTHAL TED!
Whoops! You've just remembered Neanderthal Ted lent you his lawn edger and you've forgotten to give it back! He's really out for your blood! What's a hairy man to do?
FIGHT (go to 8) ... or FLIGHT? (go to 15)
You're swimming around in the Indian Ocean, enjoying the warmth, but what's this coming towards you on spindly little legs?
Nicknamed 'the Asian Crustacean' on the pro-wrestling circuit, Lobster's vice-like grip has ended the career of many a hopeful.
The question is ... are you FISH ENOUGH to take him on?
FIGHT (go to 12) ... or FLIGHT? (go to 16)
You have chosen to FLEE the mystery foe!
You run for your life, running pell-mell through the streets of the human settlement, making frightened gibbering noises. When you judge yourself to be far enough away, you turn around to look at what you fled from.
It's a KITTEN!
Well, don't you feel stupid! (Back to start.)
Little furry big-toothed mammal, scurrying happily through the trees with your new coat of fur, until - gasp! - something is in your path! What could it be?
Tall and forbidding, the Larch is the strongest of all the deciduous plantlife. You'd better make a decision fast!
FIGHT (go to 2) ... or FLIGHT? (go to 9)
You have chosen to FLEE the cold virus!
What the hell kind of wussy protozoan are you? You haven't even got a throat to make sore, you little piddly creature. Get to the back of the evolutionary queue! No backbone for you today! (Back to start.)
You have chosen to FIGHT Neanderthal Ted!
Good decision! You of course took in the most important aspect of this fight - that Ted, for all his strengths, is not armed, and you still have his lawn edger. Within minutes you have 'edged' the poor sucker to death, and the Neanderthal babes are falling all over you! Perfect opportunity, then, to take that important last step. You are now a MAN! Go to 17!
You have chosen to FLEE the Larch!
Once you're a good fifty feet away from the Larch, you suddenly become aware of all the other woodland
creatures laughing at you. For years you will be the subject of utter humiliation, and will never be able to get a job because of what comes to be known as 'the Larch incident'. Eventually you die hungry and alone, spurned by all, all because you ran away from a tree. (Back to start.)
Flopping around your pond seems like a happy time for all, or is it? One day you notice all your little
amphibian friends have started to disappear one by one. What could be causing this epidemic? As the sun is blotted out by a formidable shadow, you realise the horror of ...
Connoisseur of all the most revolting foods in the world, the spindly French chef is only too happy to put you on a skewer and serve you to the tourists! What's it gonna be?
FIGHT (Go to 20) ... or FLIGHT? (turn to 14)
You have chosen to FIGHT the mystery foe!
HOLY GOLLY WOW FUCK!
What, you think you can succeed where ten generations of camp counsellors, a grizzled bounty hunter and the entire population of Crystal Lake have failed? Dream on, pencil neck! You're just another evaporating stain on Jason's sweater in two seconds flat. (The End.)
You have chosen to FIGHT the Lobster!
At first the fight seems to be going well for you. With a few sturdy tail-whip attacks, you've certainly given him something to think about. Unfortunately that will be whether he will have you en croute or battered, as he grabs you with his incredible claws and squeezes the life out of you! Boo! (Back to start.)
You have chosen to FLEE the zebra!
Your lumbering carcass is by no means fast enough to escape the horse-like powers of the zebra, but you have the advantage of being able to climb trees. From your vantage point in the branches you bare your broad buttocks to the thing in celebration of your imagined victory. No matter - you're free to evolve to the next stage. You are now NEANDERTHAL MAN! Go to 3!
You have chosen to FLEE the Frenchman!
You take to your little green heels and hop away with all your might! There are a few close calls as his French feet chase you through the forest, but this is familiar territory to you, so you lose him easily. But now you aren't really suited to life in the deep forest, so you'd better hurry up and evolve into a MAMMAL! Go to 6!
You have chosen to FLEE Neanderthal Ted!
You can't get away from your responsibilities that easily! Before you're able to get ten yards Neanderthal Ted hurls a viciously sharpened slice of guava and it takes your head clean off! Stand your ground next time! (Back to start.)
You have chosen to FLEE the Lobster!
Who'd be stupid enough to take on armour and claws with scales and fins? Sure some people will wonder if you're really 'all that', but the point is you've lived to fight another day. The sea you find is starting to cramp your style; it's time to hit the beach! You are now an AMPHIBIAN! Go to 10!
The pinnacle of the evolutionary ladder, you are a perfect example of genetics in action. But even though you're as evolved as you can be there are still battles to be fought. Who could take you on now, you wonder?
It's MYSTERY FOE!
Who could the mystery foe be? You'll have to make your decision to find out!
FIGHT (go to 11) ... or FLIGHT? (go to 5)
Swinging through the trees like something out of a Fatboy Slim video, surely you can have no predators in the natural world? Think again, hairy! Look who's come to say hello!
Perfectly coloured to be camouflaged totally in a 60's living room, the zebra has powerful legs and a thirst for blood! Whatcha gonna do?
FIGHT (go to 21) ... or FLIGHT? (go to 13)
You have chosen to FIGHT the cold virus!
And good for you! So maybe you'll be sniffling for a couple of days, is that really worse than immediate loss of face? You have made yourself a reputation as a cell whom it is not wise to cross. Pat yourself on the back and move up a step; you are now a FISH! Go to 4!
You have chosen to FIGHT the Frenchman!
Well, no-one could fault your determination, but let's not forget that, even though the Frenchman is a spindly little git who'd no doubt surrender the second the fight began, you are only a little slimy frog. By tomorrow you're boiling merrily away in the pan, and will cause two bouts of food poisoning. I hope you're proud of yourself. (Back to start.)
You have chosen to FIGHT the zebra!
The first few minutes of the fight go badly, you receiving some very harsh kicks to the head. But then you're able to get a hold on the creature with your huge grappling arms, and tear the sucker to bits. Unfortunately you forgot that zebras traditionally work in herds. Within minutes you are nothing but a furry, greasy stain on the floor. (Back to start.)
All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
Copyright 2002-2004 All Rights Reserved so HANDS OFF, PIKEY
Options linked by A_Gamebook_Fan in 2009.