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YMMV / Fighting Fantasy

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Zagor, Evil Warlock seeking to rule all of Allansia and plunder its treasures to add to his collection on Firetop Mountain? Or a Designated Villain that only wants to be left alone? Were the heroes that killed him each time he was revived doing so for the greater good of the world, or solely seeking treasure for themselves? The tie-in series of Novels depicts Zagor as a reasonable if reclusive character, and certainly not a villain. However, by the time Return to Firetop Mountain was published, he was rewritten as a pretty standard Evil Sorcerer.
  • Anticlimax Boss:
    • In Daggers of Darkness, the main character is slowly dying from a scratch by a Death Spell Dagger. To break the curse, he must put the dagger in the hands of the man who ordered the hit, the evil vizier Chingiz. You eventually do so and Chingiz then keels over, having been stabbed in the back by his own villainous daughter. You don't fight her either, as the magical throne she's on disintegrates her and her pet ogres for attempting to spill blood in its presence. And you too, if you're stupid enough to draw a weapon in its presence.
    • Sharcle from Eye of the Dragon is the Big Bad responsible for your predicament. By the time you face him outside the Dungeon, his laughably low SKILL score and the fact that you have to hit him only twice to defeat him will look like an utter joke after all the other dangerous enemies you've seen before, especially the mandatory battles against the Gigantus and the Doppelganger.
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    • The final boss of House of Hell the true demon form of the butler, has a shocking 14 Skill. But to even fight him in the first place requires you to have found the Kris Knife, which gives a PLUS SIX SKILL against him, rendering him almost the easiest fight in the entire book, and the easiest actual final boss fight in the entire series, with the only easier final bosses being ones that you can avoid fighting entirely with correct items.
  • Broken Base:
    • Any gamebook made by the author Jonathan Green falls under this trope. This is due to his books containing a forced linear path, multiple instant death scenarios and unforgiving Nintendo Hard battle encounters.
    • Despite being one of the "big two" of Fighting Fantasy (with Steve Jackson (UK)), Ian Livingstone also has a big broken base. Many fans also accuse his books of having a cheap forced linear path, shallow gameplay that centers on gathering as many items as possible and random deaths.
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  • Complete Monster: See here.
  • Ending Fatigue: Caverns of the Snow Witch has you fight the Snow Witch halfway through. Then you spend the rest of the book gallivanting around the world to cure yourself of her curse. This is because Caverns of the Snow Witch was originally a half-size adventure written for a magazine. When it was released in book form, the "Part Two" portion of the book was added in order to bring it up to full size. Interestingly, this has the odd effect of giving you both styles of Fighting Fantasy: Dungeon Crawler, as seen in Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Temple of Death, and Deathtrap Dungeon; and Open World, as enjoyed in Star Strider, Creature of Havoc, and Sword of the Samurai — the first half of Caverns is the lead up to, and traversing of, a dungeon, while the second half is the slightly more linear/roleplay-focused open-world segment.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: A surprising amount of fans seem to be obsessed with Mungo from the first few paragraphs of 'Island of the Lizard King.'
  • Evil Is Sexy: Just about every female villain in the series.
  • Fan Nickname: Steve Jackson UK and Steve Jackson US to tell the two authors apart.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Fighting Fantasy was out of print in the UK between 1995 and 2002 after the original British publishers cancelled the series. The books were so popular in France that they still remained in print for all of that hiatus. It still maintains an active online community of French fans to this day, along with many other gamebook series.

  • Nightmare Fuel: A lot of the illustrations swung this way, considering they more often than not depict the many, many monsters of all sorts out to kill you and feast on your flesh, if not worse.
    • Of particular note is Beneath Nightmare Castle, which also had some genuinely disturbing monsters, and a scene in which the player has to slaughter a gang of children armed with knives. Many of the deaths the player can suffer also come under this trope. Beneath Nightmare Castle was notable in that they couldn't print one of the illustrations drawn for the book — namely, that of a woman with tentacles emerging from her mouth — because it was deemed too disturbing for children.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The series was subjected to a moral panic due to the books' covers and illustrations. The Evangelical Alliance accused the series of devil-worshiping. Steve Jackson's response was that he's grateful for the free publicity.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: There were a few text adventures based on books from the series, and a PS1 version of Deathtrap Dungeon, all of which were pretty execrable.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Some of the books of the series have been hit by this, especially early ones such as The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. In the 1980s and 1990s, this is the series that made gamebooks well-known among the general audience and brought the peak of the gamebook craze. Nowadays, while still remembered fondly by those who lived these glory days, some books are criticized for their weak characterization and story, as well as their Fake Difficulty. (Note however that, given the diversity of these books, this only applies to some of them.)
  • Tear Jerker:
    • In Deathtrap Dungeon, when you are forced to kill Throm The Barbarian Warrior, whom you have befriended, in self-defense after he becomes a drugged and mind-wiped slave. Though considering there could be only ONE winner of the Dungeon challenge, it's the better of two options, the other being fighting your own ally to the death where both of you were your own selves. Plus you can seek revenge immediately thereafter, kill the dwarf who forced you into the situation, and then steal his armor on top of that.
    • In Night of the Necromancer, your reunion with your sister, which describes her attempting to embrace you despite the fact you are a ghost. Made even more tragic if the priest arrives and casts a exorcising spell midway through your conversation.
    • If you choose to kill the giant in Scorpion Swamp, and you then return to the same area, you can see the giant's wife weeping over his body. She only looks at you sadly, and the narration says that the guilt forces you to never go back to that place if you can help it.
  • That One Boss: Razzak, the Big Bad and final enemy of Crypt of the Sorcerer, if he hits you twice in a row, he wins as you are enslaved by his power. And given his skill score (12) and stamina score (20) it's nigh-impossible to win normally. Someone actually did the maths and concluded that, provided you have Skill 12 and Stamina 20+, your chances of winning are exactly 5.5%. A good number of readers either ignored the "lose if hit twice in a "ow' rule, or added that you could still negate the instant loss with a Luck check, either of which rendered him a still VERY tough, but beatable boss.
  • That One Sidequest: Collecting all of the silver daggers in Howl of the Werewolf is tough, but also skippable. However, having them all does make the endgame significantly easier.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: This was many fans' reaction to the new artwork in the Scholastic reprints.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Night of the Necromancer, where the main plot is that the player has been suddenly murdered, then returns as a ghost and has until dawn to find out why they were attacked and take revenge. At several points, particularly the parts of the book set at the gateway to the afterlife, it is strongly implied that once the character has reached this objective, they will pass on. Two paragraphs before the end, the character is Hand Waved back to life, and the typical "good" ending ensues, as opposed to the more interesting idea of the "good" ending being the character passing on.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Sky Lord, though some of the other books got pretty weird.