Usborne Books, £4.99, ISBN 0-7460-27079
Should Sword Quest even be reviewed here? Sometimes, publishers like Usborne Books really stretch the definition of “gamebook”, as this one isn’t a typical gamebook as much as it is a “find the hidden objects in the picture” interactive book meant for kids. Still, it’s not like there are gamebooks being published every month these days, so what the heck.
In the Kingdom of Gladlands, King Gilbert Gracious rules over a happy land from Castle Glee with the sacred Sword of Glee by his side. Ugh, the names. Well, disaster strikes when the evil Blag the Untrustworthy kidnaps King Gilbert and imprisons him in Castle Gloom. The people of the Gladlands must serve as slaves to Blarg in the Fields of Fancy or they will never see Gilbert again. Undeterred, Gilbert’s grandmother Gladys the Glamorous summons three mighty warriors of the land and, oh, you, to rescue the man from Castle Gloom. So off you go.
Every spread contains an illustrated tableau containing all kinds of objects that you have to locate. The instructions on the far left column on the left page tell you the items to look for, that would help the plot progress, while there are always other objects to locate for additional fun. What is really nice here is that the hidden objects could be located without having to squint or use a magnifying glass. There are many things to look for here, which increases the replay value, and the challenge level can be fiendish at times as certain objects can be very well hidden. There are also many moments when the objects are placed right in front of you, and of course you will keep overlooking them, heh.
It’s pretty clear that Sword Quest is meant for young kids, because logic doesn’t always apply here. For example, you have to locate some cakes in the first tableau so that you and your friends can have some food to eat, but some of these cakes are already halfway eaten or splattered on someone’s clothes. You shouldn’t be able to eat them, but they still count.
Simone Boni’s illustrations can be a hit-or-miss affair. Each scene is well-crafted, but the colors are on the drab and dreary side. It’s also odd how unattractive the humanoids are, to the point that the scenery in the background is often the prettiest thing about that tableau.
Still, while things could be a bit more colorful, this one is actually quite fun to while away a few hours with. Sword Quest may be a bit too silly for older folks, but fans of hidden object puzzles may find this one pretty interesting.