Wizard Books, £4.99, ISBN 1-84046-481-X
Fantasy, 2003 (Reissue)
Return to Firetop Mountain is – what else? – a sequel to The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, although this one sees Ian Livingstone being at the helm without Steve Jackson. Also, you won’t be playing the same character who defeated the evil warlock Zagor the first time around, you’ll be playing instead some generic warrior whom the villagers of Anvil turn to for help.
Ten years had passed since Zagor was supposedly slain, but yes, Zagor is now back. He is not so dead after all. Apparently he had cast some kind of spell on himself that conveniently allowed him to be resurrected for future sequels, so now he’s back and worse, he’s killing people and using their body parts to make himself a new body. You volunteer to slay the warlock because it’s the right thing to do, no? After all, while there may be no evidence that Zagor is really behind the disappearance of the villagers, who needs evidence to stick it to a warlock, eh?
There is a bit more plot here when you compare it to the plot of the original campaign, but that is like saying that your neighbor’s tortoise can beat your tortoise in a race. Return to Firetop Mountain is still a brainless dungeon crawl and hack-and-slash at its core, and indeed, it is disappointing that Mr Livingstone doesn’t try to do more here. Why waste a grand excuse for a sequel to the first ever gamebook in the Fighting Fantasy series by coming up with a campaign that is quite mundane and even predictable?
Despite some Easter egg references to the original campaign, there is very little here to tie this campaign to the original campaign. Instead, this campaign is pretty much a typical example of an unimaginative creation by Mr Livingstone. You will be collecting all kinds of items, hoping that at least a few of them are what you will need to complete the mission. You will encounter some overpowered opponents (thankfully, not many here) and face some bizarre moments where you will wonder whether Mr Livingstone is joking. He isn’t, by the way. Check out that paragraph where you are cursed by Zagor to lose 1 Stamina point per paragraph until you manage to cure yourself by eating… Orc flea. Yes, Orc flea. Perhaps we are all lucky that Mr Livingstone doesn’t try too be funny and force the hero to eat, say, Orc pimple.
Return to Firetop Mountain is supposed to be a milestone of some kind to rejuvenate interest in the series, but it turns out to be a pretty average campaign instead.