by Andrew Chapman, fantasy (1985)
Puffin Books, £3.99, ISBN 0-440-97708-8
Seas Of Blood is an interesting Fighting Fantasy gamebook because you get to play the captain of the pirate vessel Banshee. Yes, for once you are a pirate, unconstrained by boring goody two-shoes rules. Indeed, the plot of this gamebook is simple: you and your greatest rival, Abdul the Butcher, has decided on a way to settle once for the all the matter of which of you is the biggest bad-ass captain in the Inland Sea.
From the city of Tak, the both of you will head south to the island of Nippur within fifty days. Along the way, you will loot, pillage, and plunder. At Nippur, the two of you will compare the amount of good you have obtained, and the person with the greatest amount gets to call himself the King of Pirates, the Sacker of Cities.
After a few dozen entries in, you will no doubt notice one logic flaw in this campaign. No, it's not the question of why you are not a wealthy fellow despite being a successful pirate, that one is explained away by the fact that you are a chronic gambler and, one can only assume, have terrible lucks at the table. No, the logic flaw here is how utterly ignorant you are of the geography and local lore of the Inland Sea despite the fact that you are supposed to be this great pirate who should know the area like your own backyard. Instead of deftly planning ahead on areas to sack and people to parley with, you and your crew are bumbling cluelessly around the area. So much for the future King of Pirates, really.
The gameplay system is the same, only with the addition of separate sets of stats for your pirate crew. Still, the challenge level of this campaign is pretty low, as most of the encounters are standard and unimpressive types. There is a quite impressive confrontation with a Cyclops in the end, but that confrontation is one that is plunked into the campaign without rhyme or reason. Meanwhile, you will be wondering just how inept you and your crew must be, as this campaign allows you to do a pretty good number of stupid things.
Perhaps this campaign has been dumbed down because the gamebook is targeted at young kids, but come on, the end result is one very dumbed down gamebook with a surprisingly limited option for victory. Factor in uninspired prose and an anticlimatic ending and Seas Of Blood ends up a potentially intriguing campaign that ends up floundering a while before sinking straight to the bottom.
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