If you were a kid in the 1980s, you were sure to own a few of the books called “Pick A Paths,” “Choose Your Own Adventure,” “Fighting Fantasy” or any other derivation on the theme. Basically the books allowed you to make the decisions for the main character and, depending on how you chose, find success or failure.
For me, the greatest of the books were the Dungeons & Dragons-based series called “Endless Quest.” These books had amazing art by Larry Elmore and others, and featured surprisingly difficult choices for the starring character. I can remember more than a few of those books that I just couldn’t complete. It seemed that every choice lead to a life of slavery, falling down a deadly pit or ending up in the gullet of a dragon. Yes, these were kids books indeed.
Just the other day, I spotted a “Find Your Fate” book built around the G.I. Joe brand, and with a cover that featured Blowtorch and the Baroness, I couldn’t resist.
In this book, you are a new recruit to the G.I. Joe organization with the codename Wiseguy, a “Strategy Specialist,” which apparently means that you get to order around peons such as Snake Eyes, Airtight, Mutt and Rip Cord.
The story is officially called “G.I. Joe — Operation: Star Raider” and it’s your job, Wiseguy, to ensure that a Australian scientist makes it from his plane to the Pentagon, where he’ll brief the team on his new “nuclear anti-missile device.” Of course, Cobra Commander, Destro, Major Bludd and the Baroness have other plans for the device, and the plot-picking begins — should you hide him in the parade? Turn to Page 21. Sneak him off to the mountains? Go to Page 76.
As Wiseguy, who is arguably the dantiest member of G.I. Joe ever (see image below — that’s him in the center), you die miserably or claw your way to victory depending on which page you decide to go.
In all, these books were a lot more exciting when I was a kid. I could spend a whole afternoon reading them. But today? I buzzed through the book in just about 45 minutes. And yes, I died many times. I also thwarted Cobra quite a bit too. Still, the writing’s not all that great, and you really get no idea of any sort of character that Wiseguy might have. Instead, you realize three important things while reading “Operation: Star Raider”
- Blowtorch is a complete idiot. Turn down anything he suggests. It will only lead to your doom.
- Parades are for sissies. If any “strategist” from G.I. Joe ever pushes you to “hide out” in a parade, smack him repeatable times until his ears bleed.
- Snake Eyes, as usual, is a veritable god. He is the master of ninjitsu, commando operations and wolf-taming. He proves it all again in “Star Raider.” Bow down before Snake Eyes.
Now as I read “Star Raider” I began to wonder why the Internet — or more specifically Internet writers — never embraced the idea of the “Pick A Path”-style story for online fiction. You know, instead of writing a straight narrative story, the writer would offer all the same options as an Endless Quest book. You click the hyperlink of your choice, and follow your own adventure. Each page of narrative, which should include with some nice art, has advertisements, and every time they click a new option, a new advert pops up.
It already may have been tried and failed dismally.
Or it could be a gold mine. Any takers?