火曜日, 7月 20, 2004


    A site with tremendous creative potential, as yet unrealized, holds a story with enigmatic power...

Choose Your Own Adventure Online Story Engine

    This is a site for fans of the children's gamebook series Choose Your Own Adventure to write their own stories imitating this grand tradition.
    I don't have high expectations for most of the stories on the website above, but I saw a couple good ones...check out The House and A Stoner Life.
    It's like Wikipedia, only different.
    I read online that the Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) series books 1-20 were translated into Japanese at one point. Like other gamebooks rapidly disappearing all over the world thanks to the popularity of more high-tech gaming media, they are almost impossible to find. I've never seen one, or any other translations of foreign language gamebooks into Japanese. Stay tuned as I descend further into the dungeon of unbelievable nerdiness and try to track down Japanese gamebooks.
    I became interested in gamebooks again recently when, while looking for something to do on the Internet, I came across Demian's Gamebook Website, an excellent site, and got sucked into reading his reviews of all sorts of gamebooks. In addition to the CYOA series, I used to like the Fabled Lands (Quest) series by David Morris and Jamie Thompson. My interests in games and books come together in this endangered and obscure media. Interestingly, the Internet has enabled a sort of reblossoming of gamebooking. In addition to the CYOA site, Demian's link page lists a plethora of other Internet resources, like Sryth (I recently started playing this, very playable and nice; the gamemaster is constantly upgrading and improving it) and Project Aon, where you can play the Lone Wolf gamebooks free online. What could be more delightfully retro than playing an online game that simulates a pen and paper game? Who needs a graphics engine when you have an imagination? I tried the Lone Wolf gamebooks on the online site and I'll tell you what bothered me about them. Sure, they're good games I guess. But the character you have to play is not very customizable. You have to play a man, and if you don't want to starve during your adventures you have to learn Hunting. I thought at the beginning I would play as a vegetarian. I deliberately chose not to learn the Hunting skill in favor of cruelty-free skills such as Healing and Animal Kinship. Unfortunately, the books aren't really vegetarian friendly that way. If you don't learn Hunting by the second or third book it becomes a distinct disadvantage, and you sometimes wind up eating food that is poisoned by your unscrupulous enemies.
    So now I'm in Japan and naturally I'm curious about what kind of gamebooks they have here. Here, where fantasy novels and SF-themed manga abound, and video games are ubiquitous, it seems like it would be fertile ground for gamebooking. My research on this topic is still in an early stage and I hope to discover more interesting information later, but lately I've been searching the used bookstores in my area to see what kind of gamebooks I can find in Japanese. It's no use looking in new bookstores or in any of the Amazon websites, they're out of print and always sold out. You have to look in used bookstores, where they're mixed in with the cheesy genre fantasy with anime-inspired covers. The gamebooks themselves are often based on video games, as if after playing the real game you might want to play a gamebook with the same characters. (Cheesy.) So far I've found Dragon Quest books (this is not the same as the English-language Dragon Quest, but another one based on a Japanese video game) and Toruneko's Dungeon (also a video game) gamebooks. One of the Dragon Quest ones was only 30 yen. Now I've found a genre of rare books that I can afford to collect.
    Just found out on Wikipedia that Dragon Quest Nintendo games were renamed Dragon Warrior in North America due to a trademark conflict with the '80s American Dragon Quest RPG. The article also noted that the games were so popular with children in Japan that the Diet passed a a bill outlawing the release of Dragon Quest games on days other than a Sunday or a holiday to prevent children from skipping school. Is it really that good a series? Outside of Japan, the Final Fantasy series is far more popular.
    So I was looking for gamebooks in the Manyo bookstore in Sannomiya. If you don't know this used bookstore, and you live in Kobe, you should go because it's the only used bookstore in Kobe I know of that accepts books written in English. You kind of have to search for the English section and what they have is pretty random, but English-language books are usually so expensive here it's worth a look. I bought a copy of Mrs. Bridge (good book) in English for just 200 yen there. It is on the 3rd floor of the Sunpal building in back of the Daiei by Sannomiya station.
    I had this list, several pages long, of gamebooks that have supposedly been published in Japanese, mostly during the '80s. I got the list off the Internet, but I have yet to find any of the books. They are just too obscure. Anyway, I met a guy there who questioned me and when I told him my mission and we exchanged keitai mail addresses, he mailed me that I should try looking at a store called Mandarake in Osaka. The name of this store appeals to me because it sounds like the fantasy plant beast mandrake (is this intended?) featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, yet it's also undeniably a Japanese word (meaning something like "Tenthousandfull.") The store apparently has a lot of manga and gaming otaku type used books. I'm off to this store tonight after work.


  • At 4:12 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    Mandarake's a chain, there's one in Shibuya too. I don't know if they're all the same, but at the one in Shibuya, a lot of the staff cosplay, which is fun, and if you spend more than 2000 yen, you get to sing a free karaoke song (and they have a machine with a LOT of anime/game stuff in it.)

    Good luck - let me know how your quest goes. I always dug the fighting fantasy books best of all, espcially that 4-part series.. and the one called "Space commando" or something.

  • At 4:19 午後, Blogger Matt said…

    So.. nerdy... Must.. correct.. self.. I learn at the site you linked that it was called "Space Assassin". And also, that that 4-part series wasn't originally part of Fighting Fantasy. Yeah, whatever, y'all. It was FF + three-letter spells.

  • At 9:13 午前, Blogger butterflyblue said…

    Yeah, exactly, it's the same deal at the Mandarake in Osaka. A little karaoke stage and a cosplay corner. It was interesting. I never played the Fighting Fantasy books. I know a lot have them have been translated into Japanese so I'm looking for them, but no luck last night finding any translated gamebooks at Mandarake. They might occasionally get them in though.



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