Chooseco, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-933390-22-2
You decide to wait and watch. You peer into the dim room as Conda suddenly grabs each boy roughly by the arm and –
CENSORED DUE TO EXCESSIVE, GRUESOME VIOLENCE.
Is the above added in during the revision process of RA Montgomery’s 1985 gamebook Tattoo of Death? If yes, that has to be one of the most “How do you do, fellow kids?” things ever. It’s the equivalent of putting black bars over the naked bits of people in a movie and expecting kids to think that the whole thing is cool and edgy. No, it’s not, it just makes this gamebook look dumb even to ten-year old brats!
Then again, the premise of this one is dumb enough to be enjoyable after a few drinks or so. You are some kid in a self-defense class who is forcibly recruited into Red Flowers gang, an Asian American gang that brings in people illegally to America and then somehow cheat these people of their money. Why go through all the effort of bring illegal immigrants over when these people could just steal those people’s money right away? Why would they need to recruit kids into joining their gang – won’t these kids be more useful stashed away in brothels or being turned into drug mules? At any rate, you are targeted because your father is running to be the governor of California (hmm), and these gang members want to bribe your father into doing things their way. Again, don’t ask me why they need to kidnap you when they could have just gone straight to your father.
Also, in a time when the young adult genre is overrun by zealous social justice cows determined to launch witch hunts against every perceived slight against everything, it’s surprising that no one pointed out how culturally insensitive and even blind this campaign in. We have Chinese and Japanese cultural elements being thrown together into one hot mess as if both cultures were interchangeable, and in this steaming turd of a backdrop, your character quips “Kemo sabe!” to an Asian-American character. That’s… not even from the right culture, dude!
If you can get past the nonsensical plot and the potentially inflammatory take on a bizarre version of an Asian culture, you will find an outrageously dumb gamebook that ends up being unexpectedly entertaining because of how absurd it is. There’s a robot, tough-talking trucker broads, car chases featuring kids in a manner equivalent to a gangster movie starring dwarves, and of course CENSORED. The choices you make will take you to places that don’t make much sense, but who cares? Cyborgs with laser beams coming out from the eyes, ooh!
Get high or get drunk first, and Tattoo of Death becomes a revelation.