Author Topic: Choose Your Own Adventure Books  (Read 601 times)

Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« on: 10 Aug 2018, 01:34 »
Hi all,

I was sorting through some boxes in the attic when I came across a load of 'choose your own adventure style' books - I used to love these and I think it was really my first exposure to narrative gaming (in the first few years of the 90s before I got my Amiga with a copy of Lure of The Temptress.)

There was quite a variety, like the Lone Wolf books (which were played with dice like a more RPG) to others which you were just presented with a decision to make.

with a quick google search I can see they're still being made - I always thought they were a 80s thing!

Just wondered if anyone else had memories of these?  Do any titles stand out to you and what made a 'good' one...


    • Mandle worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #1 on: 10 Aug 2018, 14:55 »
I have several of my collection still with me to this day. I walked about 10 kms to the shopping mall in the middle of Australian summer with about $15 in my pocket thinking maybe I could buy 3 books at most.

To my shock and delight the books only cost like $1.50 each! I went home with all 10 books!

These were the original series:

Deadwood Gulch, My Name Is Jonas, Jewels Of The Nabooti, By Baloon To The Sahara, etc. (I don't have the books here right now so title accuracy may vary)

I "play" the books sometimes at my school with more advanced English-level Japanese kids, and sometimes I'll even take one out with me when I have a meal-break...

One thing I've really noticed is the different structure of the books which I can break down into a few types:

(1) Consistant: I think the most consistant one was the western "Deadwood Gulch" (title may be wrong): Whatever you did you were always dealing with the same set of characters, their actions, and motivations, good and bad, and the overall plot was, well, overall. You really feel like events in the world around you are going on and that you are deciding your role in them. These types are the ones I love and will read and re-read with kids or just for me. They make you feel immersed in a real environment. This form is certainly the hardest to write but is the most satisfying to "play".

(2) Ever Changing: "By Balloon To The Sahara" (title issues maybe) for example. The various branching paths of the plot create entirely different stories: A choice of waiting or continuing on might change the story from an encounter with a threatening desert tribe to an alien invasion theme. I liked this when I was a kid because it felt wild and fun, but not so much anymore. And because of the limited page length none of these different story types ever got even close to fully developed. Disappointing at best but still not as bad as:

(3) You Decide: "Jewels Of The Nabooti" (ti...yeah) for example. I really dislike this form of the books. Basically the reader gets to decide what is going to happen next and is God: Stuff like "You go into the hut. If the Jewels are there turn to page 54. If the Jewels aren't there turn to page 37." This annoyed me even as a kid and taught me a lot about the role of storyteller (the book, movie, game or whatever) and experiencer. I don't want to write a story as I read it. Horrid stuff!

If I end this essay for now turn to pa...   
« Last Edit: 10 Aug 2018, 15:01 by Mandle »


    • Mandle worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #2 on: 10 Aug 2018, 15:06 »
Oh, by the way, I made an adaptation of a similar kind of kids' book called "The Adventures Of The Blackhand Gang" in AGS as my second-ever project:

You might be just in the correct frame of mind to give it a go and have fun with it!

I made the game before I knew anything about audio functions in AGS so please maybe play some mysterious music in the background if you play the game...
« Last Edit: 10 Aug 2018, 15:10 by Mandle »

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #3 on: 10 Aug 2018, 17:45 »
Hello. Long-time lurker, very rare poster! Just been watching "The Black Hand Gang", and thinking how wonderful it is! Thanks for making it available.

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #4 on: 11 Aug 2018, 22:20 »
Great post, thanks Mandle!

I remember many of the books I'd play also included an RPG element. There would be a stats page in the front cover and have to read the book with a dice and a pencil, This added combat and the element of chance to the experience.

"If you want to attempt the jump turn to page 22" - The relevant page would then read "Roll a dice, add this to your Agility skill - if the number is 8 or above turn to page 46, if it is 7 or below turn to page 79"

I remember borrowing books from the local library and carefully erasing the previous players' stats - I think it's the only time I've actually 'rage quit' a book.

If you're interested, The Lone Wolf books (which were big in the UK - unsure about the rest of the world) have now been released for free and can be played via pdf HERE

Whilst I've been looking into these I've also discovered that Doctor Who have done various ranges of these books (the first in 1986 the last as late as 2010)

Several game books have also been successfully funded via kick-starter so there's definitely still an interest in them.

I may have a go at putting together a short one as a little side project! 


    • Mandle worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #5 on: 12 Aug 2018, 00:35 »
Yeah, I had the RPG ones too. "Wizards And Warriors" and all that. The trouble was when I died I couldn't see the point in rerolling the character and starting over so I'd just cheat. (laugh)

I also had a two-player double-book one that was a FPS fight between a wizard and a guy with a bow. The players called out code numbers to each other and did a calculation to figure out what page to turn to. It didn't have a ton of replay value though because after a while you started to recognize the numbers and knew where the other player was in the maze. Interesting experiment though.

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #6 on: 12 Aug 2018, 01:10 »
oh wow, if you can remember the title of the two player one I'd love to see if I can find a copy somewhere, sounds really interesting...

really enjoyed The Black Hand Gang by the way.


  • Cavefish
  • Fleeing the Cylon tyrrany...
    • Cassiebsg worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #7 on: 12 Aug 2018, 06:43 »
and starting over so I'd just cheat. (laugh)

This is not called cheat... it's called reloading your game. (laugh)
There are those who believe that life here began out there...

Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #8 on: 12 Aug 2018, 07:28 »
I loved them when I was young and had all these mad plans to make a fortune writing my own... Of course it never happened. I even remember taking pre-orders in the school playground! (laugh)


  • Founder of Toon Thriller Productions
Re: Choose Your Own Adventure Books
« Reply #9 on: 16 Aug 2018, 03:19 »
I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure Series (Daredevil Park, Behind the Wheel, You are a Millionaire, etc.), the Fighting Fantasy ones, and the Give Yourself Goosebumps ones. I really wish more adventure games were like this, with multipath walkthroughs and multiple endings; sadly, there are quite few of them (my personal faves are the Humongous adventure games; the choice is not defined by the player, but it is cool too: every time you start the game, you don't know what would the computer choose for you).