Developer: Big Blue Bubble
Genre: Action RPG
Release date: Available now
I had no idea of the history behind Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain when I first started playing it. FF is a first-person action RPG for the Nintendo DS that comes from a long history of game books written in a “choose your own adventure” style. Does it have enough to be a great video game for the DS?
Your adventure begins when you step off a boat onto the docks at a town called Stonebridge. You’ve heard of the legendary keep of Firetop Mountain, and you’re in search of the treasure it might hold. Many before you have tried to find it, but have not returned. There is a legend of a Warlock named Zagor who controls the area along with his minions; they stand between you and the treasure.
Fighting Fantasy starts with a series of questions. They ask what type of play style you like, such as a magic user or weapon wielding warrior, and a character is created. If you don’t like the outcome, you can customize your character and choose your two starting abilities. You move your avatar with the directional pad, and use either the buttons or the stylus for camera control. The touch screen displays your action bar, which you can use to customize the abilities that are ready to use at a moment’s notice. To advance through Fighting Fantasy, you must complete quests given to you by NPCs. Killing monsters and completing quests give you experience that you use to upgrade your skills and abilities. You’re given the opportunity to draw and take notes on your map to help guide you through the twisted dungeons and caverns.
Fighting Fantasy starts slowly, but after an hour or so it started to grow on me. The game has some good things to offer. The open 3D world is great for the DS. The inventory management system is easy to use. There are many items and gear you can find along the way, adding to the RPG flavor of it. Save points are liberally scattered throughout the game, and it’s a good thing; I found myself getting killed a lot. The ability to draw on the map and take notes is amazing. It saved me a lot of time because it gave me the ability to make note of where I had already explored. There are also dialogue options that add a little spice to the game. You can outsmart a monster and not have to fight him if you choose the correct conversation responses.
The Nintendo DS is not great for first-person games because the controls are always a problem. In Fighting Fantasy, the controls are what hold it back. They hinder your ability to truly enjoy the game. While I was playing, I was wishing for two joysticks for movement rather than the DS layout. Also, the story didn’t add anything to the experience. It seemed very bland and uneventful.
It’s not the prettiest looking game, but Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is enjoyable, even though it’s greatly handicapped by its controls. The game does have many good aspects to it. The story doesn’t draw you in, but the gameplay does. But if you have never played a first-person action RPG, don’t start with this one.