Warlock Of Firetop Mountain Review (minis)

Nostalgic.

Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain, developed by Laughing Jackal, can best be described as an interactive Choose Your Own Path adventure book, which makes sense as that’s what this game is based on. FF: The Warlock Of Firetop Mountain was the first Fighting Fantasy book written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, co-founders of Games Workshop, and the second of the series to get a PSN mini makeover, the first being Talisman of Death.

It is clear from the outset that FF: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a traditional RPG. There are no cutscenes or spoken dialogue. In fact for the majority of the game you will be reading a book.

[drop]At the beginning of the game your character’s stats for skill, stamina and luck are randomly generated. Skill helps determine your battle damage, stamina represents your health and whether you can do certain actions, whilst luck helps determine whether you will get through doors or certain situations unscathed. Whenever you test your luck you lose one luck point until you get to a situation where you can replenish those points. Stamina is a more serious affair, once you’ve used it all it’s game over.

If you’re not happy with the stats the game generates for you you’re given the opportunity to try again but you don’t get to directly assign points to categories. Once your character is rolled you’re ready to start playing.

After reading the introduction, where you are informed that you are setting off in search of treasure at Firetop Mountain despite warnings from the villagers, you select your first page to turn to (exactly as you would in a real choose your own adventure book) and from there the adventure progresses.

As you go from page to page a separate in game Log Book keeps track of your progress, as well as giving information on your equipment and enemies you encounter. The Log Book becomes your lifeline as you traverse the maze before you, as the further you go the easier it becomes to get lost.

In fact at one point I became trapped in a loop, going through the same pages over and over. Even with the Log Book I eventually came to a point where I could not progress, thus ending my first adventure. However, it took me a while to figure out that there was no way forward and that will frustrate some players.  The second adventure fared a lot better, although I was killed further without managing to reach the end.

[drop2]Of course, you’re not just going from page to page. There are also an array of monsters to fight, and you’re given a choice between two battle systems when you set about attacking an enemy. The first of these is the traditional way using dice. Two dice are rolled and the total added to your skill points. If this addition gives you more points than the enemy’s then they’ll take damages; if the opposite is true then the damage is dealt to you.

The other battle system consists of a grid of tiles and is more like a memory game. As the battle starts you’re presented with the tiles face up; a mixture of tiles that will damage you or the enemy. The tiles then flip, and you must complete the battle by selecting the appropriate tiles. The tougher the enemy the more tiles there are that will damage you, as well as the time to memorise the location of good tiles shortening. Of the two battle systems the grid seems to be the better option as it requires more of a player input, while the dice roll is, as you’d expect, randomly generated.

Although the general presentation of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is that of a book, it does look good and crucially the words are easily readable on the PSP screen; Laughing Jackal have even seen fit to includea zoom option should you need it. The controls need to be played with a bit before getting into the game but once you get used to those you’ll be moving through the reincarnated book in no time.

Pros:

  • Looks good.
  • Well written.
  • Can be engrossing.
  • Great for fans of reading.

Cons:

  • Fiddly Controls.
  • Requires a lot of backtracking and note checking.
  • Can be frustrating when getting lost.

Overall, Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a decent title that brings back fond memories of the Choose Your Own adventure books, but the gameplay may be off putting to those who are unfamiliar with the genre. Some will get frustrated by the back tracking but others may relish the challenge of figuring out how to go forward. It’s an interesting little Mini, and seems likely to be one that will divide opinion.

Score: 7/10

14 Comments

  1. I used to love these books as a kid. The first mini since who’s that flying that I’ll buy.

    • Oh and a typo in your second to last paragraph. Includea not include a.

  2. ahhh, I remember these from school – the bloke that ran the book club must have made a mint from me and my classmates as he probably sold us all every single one of the series.

    • Just discovered that Forest of Doom is on the cards too and that was my favourite! I feel like a 10 year old again!

  3. I had loads of these books. I gave up on minis ages ago, but I’ll get this one for old times sake.

  4. Had a few of the books when I was a kid. I enjoyed them but couldn’t get over my grief when I ran into a complete dead end.

    Quite a few people won’t know that The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was made into an actual first person RPG for the DS. Great little game, though like the books, ever so frustrating.

    • you mean you never used the “if my finger’s still on the page i haven’t left it” technique? ^_^

      i did.

      • My fingers was placed on multiple pages for the best outcome.

      • I sure did, but some of the books were structured in such a way that it took forever to retrace your steps and return to the right spot.

        Looking back, I guess solo paper RPGs were pretty damn useless. Every time you died you wouldn’t simply accept it is a perma-death and just carry on, effectively breaking the rules.

  5. Just out of my pure bitterness for Sony at the moment and my inability to play Fighting Fantasy : Talisman of Death Mini on my PSP that was in the Pick Mix offer I shall be refrain from this purchase.

  6. Add +1 to the score if you enjoyed them as a kid?

  7. I own a signed paperback copy – I reckon I’ll stick with that one.

  8. Used to love these but I’d borrow them from the library and find some sod had already filled in the front pages so I’d end up reading them as stories rather than playing them properly. If it’s only a couple of quid, I’m tempted for pure nostalgia value

  9. I think I’ll hold off until they release Freeway Fighter.

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