Two magically immersive video games cast as “choose your path”–style adventures kick off a series set in an abandoned arcade.
Both games are conventional types, running separate courses despite the interwoven format. In a setup, “you” find the arcade in a long-closed mall and opt either to join Space Pirates in fighting the evil Galactic Authority or to take on a trio of undead necromancers. In either case, big icons that look like game controllers offer multiple options for next moves—all split into short (sometimes one- or two-line) snippets of narrative on widely separated pages—nearly all of which lead, a few options along in the plotlines, to being eaten by animated toys, squeezed by an Abominable Snowmancer, blasted into “little bits of space trash,” or some other form of sudden death. Not only does the requisite flipping prevent the development of any sort of dramatic pacing, there’s so much back-ing and forth-ing that gamers, even (or perhaps particularly) dedicated ones, will quickly grow weary of it. Moreover, to no evident purpose beyond padding the page count, some passages recur word for word multiple times. Aside from the icons, a scanty assortment of line-drawn prize tokens, robots, and melodramatically posed monsters are the only visuals.
Unexceptional of both concept and play, more hampered than enhanced by its format. (Horror/science fiction. 11-13)