FF31: Battleblade Warrior

Nicholas Campbell
Robert Clive
Jason Smith


[Nicholas Campbell]

For six long years, the city of Vymorna has been under constant siege from the Lizard Men from the swamps and jungles of Silur Cha to the east. Vymorna lies in ruins, and it seems that it will soon fall to the Lizard Men. But then Telak the Swordbearer, the god of courage, appears in a vision and commands you to travel to the Lion Heights, to seek a weapon which will aid you in the fight against the Lizard Men. Your mother, Queen Perriel, the current ruler of Vymorna, is apprehensive about you undertaking such a mission, but you are Vymorna's last hope. However, your first task will be to break through the ranks of Lizard Men unnoticed...

Marc Gascoigne's one attempt at writing his own Fighting Fantasy gamebook is a rather average affair. The Siege of Vymorna is mentioned briefly in the Fighting Fantasy reference book, Titan (which he edited), but Battleblade Warrior allows you to take part in, and influence, its final outcome.

There is a wide variety of places in this gamebook to visit - the ruins of the city, the Lizard Men's battle camp, the small town of Capra, sailing up the Vymorn River, a trek through the Nightshriek Jungles and the Lion Heights, and a dungeon that lies below the ruined city of Kharnek. You can even take part in an Orc funeral, which I found particularly enjoyable! Despite all of this, most of these events are irrelevant to your quest. As a result, the gamebook is fairly linear and short. The book also suffers from a lack of items to collect, and few of the items that you can collect are of any use. Furthermore, you are often asked if you wish to investigate things more closely, but nearly all of the time, you gain nothing from doing so, making most of these options redundant.

As one might expect from the setting, Battleblade Warrior features a lot of Lizard Men, but you can complete the book by fighting as little as two combats. Both of these combats are fairly tough, and there is no way of avoiding them, so you'll need a fairly high Initial SKILL to succeed - but this is no different from most other gamebooks. What is different, though, is that you can only carry a maximum of four Provisions at a time, you can only eat them when the book tells you that you can, and even then, you can only eat one Provision at a time - so if you lose a lot of STAMINA in one combat, you could be in real difficulty in the next one!

Battleblade Warrior is interesting in that it expands on an event that is mentioned in the reference book Titan. Unfortunately, its flawed design means that while it's not a bad gamebook, there is nothing that makes it stand out from the other gamebooks in the series.

Rating: 6/10


[Robert Clive]

The first thing that hits you with Battleblade Warrior is the colourful front cover of a Lizard Man riding on the back of a pterodactyl with a spear!

The task in this book is to save a city called Vymorna from a Lizard Man invasion. You do this by finding a magical weapon to summon a supernatural army to save you.

The mission involves you escaping the city and going to an abandoned city in the hills, travelling over plains, rivers and through forests.

The terrain in the story is varied, the encounters along the way are okay. This book has nice illustrations on the cover and in the inside too.

The writing for this book is solid. It was an interesting idea to have a book dedicated entirely to the Lizard Men enemy for once. I don't think this was last done since Island of the Lizard King.




Okay, where do I start with this one! Battleblade Warrior is a typical medieval romp set in the most concentrated on continent in the Fighting Fantasy series; Allansia. In this respect, this adventure is quite conventional.

However, the setting is that of an epic siege of a great city by the evil hordes of the Lizardman Empire! Basically, your mission is to escape the bloody siege and embark on a perilous quest to find a mystical weapon that'll destroy the Lizardman position and save the city and civilisation.

This adventure is okay and solid stuff, although not groundbreaking. You get to explore a different variety of environments such as plain, forest and hills. There's also an ancient, derelict, hidden city in the hills for you to investigate during the subterranean climax to your quest. There's also a cunning twist at the end with the behaviour of an ally of yours :-)!

Battleblade Warrior covers some new ground by focusing on the Lizardmen as the main villains. With the exception of Fighting Fantasy number 7, Island of the Lizard King, they've been pretty much neglected from a main villain point of view. I think this book did a good job of concentrating on them as the main protagonist for a change. Also, there's a chance to encounter the Caarth too.

The front cover is eye-catching, the artwork between the pages is good too; done by the same artist as the Creature of Havoc. This book isn't bad overall. It tends to be forgotten in favour of the ever popular titles such as Deathtrap Dungeon and Warlock of Firetop Mountain.



[Jason Smith]

I first read this FF gamebook way back in early '88 when it first came out. At that time I was a dedicated, 14 year-old FF fan. I lived and breathed solely for the purpose of battling Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone's latest paperback creations. So, with naive, starry-eyed enthusiasm, I was delighted to buy a glossy, new copy of FF #31, Battleblade Warrior. As in many cases, the first thing that caught my attention was that cool cover with the Lizard Man riding a airborne pterodactyl, flying down a grassy ravine!

I haven't read this gamebook in ages, but I do remember thinking that it was really good at the time! Of course, not being so much under the hypnotic influence of the FF world anymore, I'll probably be able to give you a much more unbiased review now... OK, you start the adventure as a warrior in the southern Allansian city of Vymorna. But, Vymorna isn't a city at peace, oh no. For six long years Vymorna has been besieged by the vast hordes of the Lizard Man Empire, wishing to crush it. Being the son of the city's war-weary leader, Queen Perriel, and a member of the aristocracy, you have it better than most, until your god, called Lord Telak, appears in your dreams. To cut a long story short, he lays the burden of saving the whole city against the dark forces on your shoulders (oh crap)!

Your mission may be fraught with danger, but, as Vymorna's only hope, you must seek out some ancient, divine weapon, that's been hidden away for aeons. With this, the plan is to summon heavenly aid, crushing the Lizard Man siege and driving those rapacious, reptilian rascals away... Well, that's the plan, anyway! To do this you must escape Vymorna, trek across an assortment of landscapes, all the while trying to avoid the baleful gaze of the Lizard Man Empire!

This is Marc Gascoigne's one and only attempt at writing a FF gamebook. Marc seems to have concentrated much more on writing FF novels, like Demonstealer and Shadowmaster, and technical companions, like Out of the Pit and Titan. I don't know why he didn't write any others, as this gamebook is OK. While some FF fans I've known have criticized the writing style and content of this gamebook, I really didn't think that it was that bad. This book does have weaknesses, but then so do most. This gamebook is OK, certainly not bad, it just doesn't stand out as being anything exceptional.

FF #31 doesn't push the mechanics of the gamebook forward, no new rules or abilities are added (that I remember). Saying that, I thought that a decent job was done with the story, but it could of been developed a bit more. It may be a bit linear in the way in which we go from city to plain to forest to mountain, but it does have a surprise twist right at the end.

One thing that I thought could of been better was the initial breakout from Vymorna. Now, you're trapped in this city and you're given a selection of ways to escape. You can either sneak out quietly, under cover of darkness, or fight you way out through the full might of the green skinned army. Unfortunately, I found both escape routes too easy. You'd think that after a six year siege, these scaly, southern pests would have built a ring of steel around the city, that even a gnat couldn't slip through unnoticed! But, I guess you've got to escape the city anyway, otherwise how would you begin your quest. Also, if you don't get out, it's curtains for Vymorna and mum!

Anyway, the cover illustration, by the talented David Gallagher, is cool. The internal artwork is also good, with the added bonus of a full colour map, wow! Hmm, I guess this book was written before the publisher became too greedy and axed the colour maps, to increase the profit margin on the series... Bad idea!

The first time I played this book, I got right to the end! Yes, I mean right to the last challenge on my first attempt (gasp)! Although, I was then promptly murdered by one of those sword wielding, reptilian gits (double gasp). To almost get to the end on your first attempt usually means a gamebook is quite easy to crack...

In my opinion, this gamebook is a decent attempt overall, there's certainly worse out there, this one simply doesn't shine out as spectacular. I think it's worth reading, if you can find a copy. Just don't go expecting Jurassic Park!

Rating: 6.25/10