Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fighting Fantasy: Rising from the Ashes

In the 80s there was nothing holding back the popularity of the ever-growing Fighting Fantasy series but as videogames became more commonplace the gamebooks' popularity began to wane. 

It became apparent that in order to succeed and remain relevant, authors Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson had to evolve the series into something bigger and more formidable.

The pair had attempted videogames before in 1984 with a range of their most popular titles being translated into games for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad, BBC and Commodore 64. However, they were moving into a new age where the Playstation was the king of entertainment and not many kids were interested in the old paper adventures anymore.

Read more after the jump.

The videogame publisher that Ian Livingstone had worked with, Domark, had been acquired by up and coming gaming company Eidos, famous for their Tomb Raider franchise that Livingstone eventually became involved in.

With Eidos, Livingstone brought Fighting Fantasy to the Playstation One and the PC with a version of one of his most popular titles: Deathtrap Dungeon, a 3D third-person action game starring a sultry Amazon called Red Lotus. While the game was praised for its variety of monsters characteristic of the books, it was criticised for its slugging movement and dodgy graphics.


Unfortunately, Deathtrap Dungeon failed to revitalise much interest in the gamebook series and as the years went by, the world forgot about Fighting Fantasy until 2002 when Wizard Books acquired the rights for the franchise and started re-releasing the books with all new covers.


With books hitting the stores again, mainly in children's sections, interest began to pique. What were these strange books? People were also rediscovering the books from their childhood and introducing a new generation of fans.

Now in its second series, Fighting Fantasy is witnessing a new lease of life. Warlock of Firetop Mountain was released for the Nintendo DS as a first-person RPG and Talisman of Death is soon to be released on PS3 as a digital gamebook. There are versions of some of the best titles for the iPhone and iPad and recently the books were launched for the Kindle.



It might not enjoy the same popularity as it did in the 80s but Fighting Fantasy is still alive and well in the digital age. There are even new books being released, such as Night of the Necromancer and Stormslayer and an active fanbase producing their own content, like the fantastic Fighting Fantazine.


What does the future hold? Perhaps we will hear some more about the House of Hell movie, or maybe a new game will be made for a current gen console. Whatever happens, Fighting Fantasy will always remain the key to adventure.