27 June 2011

Diceman gamebooks

Some of you may remember reading and playing the low-tech predecessors of interactive fiction games... the gamebooks. These were interactive fiction where the reader gets to decide how the protagonist would act at various points of the story, thereby playing a role in directing the narrative.

The Diceman series is an early, interesting combination of two of my favourite things - gamebooks and graphic novels, introduced in 1986 as a spin-off of UK's popular (and non-interactive) 2000AD weekly comic magazine. Billed as a "role-playing comic," Diceman lasted five issues before being discontinued in 1986. A compilation of some Slaine game-comics from this series was compiled into "You are the Hero: You are Slaine".

As the name implies, games in Diceman all require you to use dice (typically 2 six-sided ones) to play most games in the book. Each issue includes two to three different games, each starring heroes from the 2000AD magazine, including Judge Dredd, Torquemada, Slaine, Rogue Trooper, ABC Warriors, and Nemesis the Warlock. Given the "mature" nature of 2000AD stories in general (e.g. graphic depiction of violence and some sexual overtones), the games are challenging and interesting. A nice feature is that each game has different types of gameplay depending on the main character and the plot. The artwork is consistently very good throughout, featuring UK legends such as Hunt Emerson and Bryan Talbot. The stories are action-packed and all, save one, were penned and designed by the 2000AD stalwart Pat Mills. If you enjoy gamebooks or even just comic books in general, check these out.

Diceman #1

Diceman #2

Diceman #3

Diceman #4

Diceman #5

You are the Hero: You are Slaine TPB

Interior art (Diceman #1)

Panel shot of Slain from Diceman #1 (just to you an idea of how the game works)

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