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Old 03-11-2008, 03:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Chicago
Gamebooks (Choose Your Own Adventure, et al)

EDIT: Well, shit, that turned into a long post! If you really can't be bothered to read the whole post (I know how it is, but of course it's always better to read the whole thing ), then just read the first and third section. That's all that's really necessary to participate in this thread.

A few days ago, I was reminded of Choose Your Own Adventure books on another website I frequent. As a kid, I really liked Choose Your Own Adventure books, and I had a few books from other similar series as well. In fact, a couple of my favorites were from series other than Choose Your Own Adventure, and I recently took it upon myself to answer the nagging question in my head: what were those series and books called? In searching for that info, I learned that Choose Your Own Adventure style books are part of a genre called "gamebooks" apparently, and I happily discovered a page which lists entire series of gamebooks! So, since nostalgia is always fun, I looked through and found some of my favorite Choose Your Own Adventure books that I forgot about, and even found the couple books I had and enjoyed from other series.

I imagine that, for a lot of people around my age, growing up in the 80s and early 90s especially, Choose Your Own Adventure played an integral role in their reading development. Between it and the Boxcar Children series, I fell asleep reading many a book as a kid. So, did you read Choose Your Own Adventure a lot? Do you have fond memories of it? What were some of your favorite Choose Your Own Adventure stories (or stories from other, similar series)?

If you want to waste some time going down memory lane and refreshing your memory, here is the site with all the various gamebooks listed. Scroll down to the "Product Family" section of the list for the easiest way to find the series you're looking for. Since most everyone will be looking for just the Choose Your Own Adventure books, here's a direct link to that product family's page The site even has pictures of the covers, which I thought was just awesome

So, one of my favorite gamebooks was a book from the Endless Quest book series, which had a small subset called Crimson Crystal Adventures. I got it at a used book store as a kid while being babysat by my mom's close friend, a neighbor across the street. Aside for being a book where I got to choose what to do, it included a super-awesome piece of tinted red plastic that I had to put over some of the pictures to reveal hidden information! Renegades of Luntar may very well have been my favorite gamebook as a kid. It had a fun sci-fi plot where I got to be a kid on Mars and it had a neat gimmick! Too bad it was the only I had of that series.

Another series that I enjoyed quite a bit, but only had a couple books from was Plot-Your-Own Horror Stories. Reading the gamebook site now, it seems they weren't actually written that well, but as a kid I barely noticed. I just loved how they were a bit edgier than the Choose Your Own Adventure books typically were. I mean, try to imagine a Choose Your Own Adventure book with a cover as creepy as this or this! Sadly, those aren't the two books I had from the series. In fact, I don't remember where I got the ones I had, though I suspect they may have been hand-me-downs. Craven House Horrors was pretty fun, but the one I really liked and kept coming back to was Horror Hotel!. My memory could be totally wrong on this, but if there's any book that can be considered a kid version of The Shining, this is it

As for Choose Your Own Adventure, I had a ton.

#2 Journey Under the Sea: One of my favorites. In a deep sea submarine, you discover Atlantis. I still remember that one option in the book is to have gills surgically implanted on your neck, like the rest of the citizens of Atlantis, and that if you choose that the book ends because you have to live the rest of your life there.
#4 Space and Beyond: Apparently this one was terrible, but I enjoyed it well enough.
#6 Your Code Name is Jonah: I don't remember much about this book other than the fact I had it, and that I thought "Jonah" was an odd name. I think I enjoyed it though.
#7 The Third Planet from Altair: Yet another sci-fi Choose Your Own Adventure book I have fond memories of. I don't remember much about it, other than I liked it
#8 Deadwood City: I recognize that I had this one, but I don't remember too much about it. I wasn't really into the western ones too much.
#9 Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?: Based on name alone, I had no memory of having this book. When I saw the cover, though, I realized that I did. I vaguely remember thinking Harlowe Thrombey was a stupid name. I may have enjoyed this one, but I guess it didn't stick out to me plot-wise.
#10 The Lost Jewels of Nabooti: As with all the other Choose Your Own Adventure books I had, I know I read this a number of times. I don't remember anything else about it though.
#11 Mystery of the Maya: Probably one of my first introductions to the concept of Mayans. Sadly, that's all I remember about this book.
#12 Inside UFO 54-40: Easily one of my favorites. I remember being fascinated by the Easter Island statues on the cover (and in the book). I'm pretty sure that was among the first times I learned about Easter Island, and I still find Easter Island fascinating to this day. The creepy alien on the cover sticks out in my head too. I also was reminded, upon reading the reviews, about the search for "Ultima" in the book, and how the only way to find it was to cheat and turn to the right page (which no other page directed you towards). I read this one a lot, and when I wasn't reading it I looked at the cover with fascination.
#13 The Abominable Snowman: I had it; I read it. That's about all I remember. I think I may have liked it.
#14 The Forbidden Castle: I'm honestly not sure if I actually had this one. I seem to remember it, but I don't think it ever really captured my attention. Based on how many others in this area of the series I had, I think it's pretty likely that I had this one too though.
#15 House of Danger: I'm starting to realize just how many Choose Your Own Adventure books I had and read. More than I thought. I seem to remember liking this one, but I don't remember too much about it.
#27 The Horror of High Ridge: I don't know what it was about this book. It sticks out in my head, and I know I went back to read it a number of times, but I also remember it with a bit of unease. Maybe it was all the ghost stuff.
#29 Trouble on Planet Earth: I don't remember too much about this book other than thinking the blob guy on the cover looked weird.

And that seems to be it. Looking at the publication dates, I seem to have discovered that most (all?) of my Choose Your Own Adventure books were hand-me-downs I'm pretty sure that I read some of the ones that came out around the time I was of reading age, but I suspect I don't remember them because I got them from my school's library and only read them once or twice. I've also noticed that my favorite Choose Your Own Adventure books were typically the sci-fi ones. Even some of the books that were apparently not very good at all, I still enjoyed them. Part of the reason for this is probably because I was more enamoured with the sci-fi idea than the specific plot, and so I was easily able to overlook any issues that may have existed in favour of imagining myself on a spaceship

So, do you remember your Choose Your Own Adventure books? What were your favorites? Why? Let's take a group trip down memory lane
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Last edited by SecretMethod70; 03-11-2008 at 04:52 PM..
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Old 03-11-2008, 03:41 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My favourite was the Time Machine series and I had all 24 books.

The only detail I remember now is from a medieval adventure where a fellow peasant blows your cover because he notices your clean, uncalloused hands. If I also remember correctly, you couldn't die in those books. Or maybe you could. It's been a long time.

Thanks for the link!
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Old 03-11-2008, 04:42 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I LOVED the choose your own adventure books, although I don't remember any specific titles. I also loved the Boxcar Children, The Indian In the Cupboard series, and anything by Roald Dahl. You have excellent taste, SM
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Goosebumps came out with a few of these when I was a kid. I believe they were called "Choose Your Own Scare". I could be wrong.

I loved regular Goosebumps books at the time, so naturally I was all over this. I spent hours upon hours upon hours figuring out every possible avenue I could take. I would sticky note pages, and go back when I died and make the other decision and see what happened.

I was kind of an obsessive child.....
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Last edited by Punk.of.Ages; 03-11-2008 at 05:24 PM.. Reason: Horrible grammar all over this post.
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:30 PM   #5 (permalink)
Location: San Antonio, TX
I liked the CYOA books as a kid too. I remember there was one gamebook I had that revolved around writing BASIC programs - you would actually type short BASIC programs from the book into your computer (We had an Apple II+), and change them or debug them.

My parents obviously wanted me to grow up to be a huge nerd.
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I know I used to love these as a kid, but I couldn't actually tell you what was in any of them. I also have vague memories of the more advanced game books, which used character sheets and such. What were their titles? What were they about? I don't know.

The one thing I do remember was from a gamebook based on Super Mario (Choose Your Own Adventure-esque, but not part of the official series). I know I owned it and I remember it had a page that couldn't be reached by normal means, with the text "Hey! You're not supposed to be here!" or some such.
I wake up in the morning more tired than before I slept
I get through cryin' and I'm sadder than before I wept
I get through thinkin' now, and the thoughts have left my head
I get through speakin' and I can't remember, not a word that I said

- Ben Harper, Show Me A Little Shame
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Old 03-11-2008, 05:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Gunfire at Gettysburg

These were my favorites.

I always loved finding the ways to die in each one. I was a disturbed child
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Old 03-11-2008, 06:42 PM   #8 (permalink)
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My favorite was the Lone Wolf series. Kind of a mix of CYOA and D&D, set in a LOTR-style world.
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Old 03-11-2008, 07:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I remember when these first came out... I must have been in about grade 6. They were a huge hit.

We came across a few of these in my wife's mother's garage a few years ago an gave them to my son. He thought they were pretty cool as well.

The only one I remember is the Cave of Time (I think it was the first book).
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Old 03-11-2008, 08:18 PM   #10 (permalink)
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All I really remember about them was that they weren't allowed for book reports in Ms. Vilders' 7th grade literature class.
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Old 03-12-2008, 02:37 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Location: Sydney, Australia
Originally Posted by inBOIL
My favorite was the Lone Wolf series. Kind of a mix of CYOA and D&D, set in a LOTR-style world.
This rings a bell for me. Man, I died a lot reading these books.

My brother has a DVD that works like this - you drive the 'movie/cartoon' via choices - I just can't remember the name of it...
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Old 03-13-2008, 05:10 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Excellent nostalgia Secret!

I remember The Mystery of Chimney Rock kind of freaked me out when I was little. I recognized some of the others from later on You Are a Monster, Master of Kung Fu, etc, but they didn't have as much of an impact as the earlier ones.

I do remember Lone Wolf; I think I might even have the first book in the series. robot_parade I had a similar book where the goal was to stop killer robots with BASIC programs (we had a IIGS) and my parents harbored similar expectations of my future nerddom (totally accurate, as it turned out).
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Old 03-13-2008, 04:26 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Old 03-14-2008, 11:29 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Location: Canada
Originally Posted by Punk.of.Ages
Goosebumps came out with a few of these when I was a kid. I believe they were called "Choose Your Own Scare". I could be wrong.

I loved regular Goosebumps books at the time, so naturally I was all over this. I spent hours upon hours upon hours figuring out every possible avenue I could take. I would sticky note pages, and go back when I died and make the other decision and see what happened.

I was kind of an obsessive child.....
And here I thought I was alone in the universe.
Greetings from another obsessive compulsive - must-find-every-possible-ending choose your own adventure reader from another generation.

I did the same damn thing with video games too as a child (testing every potential outcome) It's a wonder that I never ended up in Quality Assurance when I was still working on software...
-=[ Merlocke ]=-
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adventure, choose, gamebooks

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