Red Fox, £3.99, ISBN 0-09-925281-3
The Buccaneers of Shadaki, the 22nd gamebook in the Lone Wolf series, continues the campaign that began in Voyage of the Moonstone. You are some Kai Grand Master entrusted by Lone Wolf to return the Moonstone to the mystical folks called the Shianti in the Isle of Lorn, located at the southernmost tip of Southern Magnamund. In the previous campaign, you arrive at Elzian, the capital city of Dessi, where you are greeted by the useless but long-lived Lord Rimoah.
In this campaign, you will travel from Dessi to Suhn, where you will then meet the Dessian ambassador and enlist his help in chartering a ship to the Isle of Lorn. Of course, things never go as planned, and you will soon encounter all sorts of jolly fun people like buccaneers, witch doctors, and more. There is no grand villain here – I think the dark god Naar has run out of ideas and is currently hoping that a stray porthole will kill you.
If you have played the previous gamebook, you are still stuck with your same four Kai Grand Master skills here, so let’s hope you have picked wisely in the previous gamebook, heh. The difficulty level is pretty average – it’s not too easy, but it’s not hard enough to be unfair. However, there is nothing particularly interesting or memorable in this campaign. There is a strong sense of déjà vu blanketing every page. The illustrations suggest that the areas you are visiting are a hybrid of settings patterned after South American jungles, Arabic locations, and the occasional Chinese-looking habitats. It is too bad that the writing doesn’t succeed in creating any atmosphere that will bring the setting to life. The only thing that is made clear is how close Southern Magnamund actually is to Northern Magnamund – you even encounter Eldenorans (100% racist poster boys because we all know our Kai dudes will never do anything racist!) in this campaign!
And most disappointingly, you never know why and how the Moonstone fell into Naar’s hands. Worse, you won’t even meet the Shianti, doomed to failure forever even after all your efforts, if you fail to solve a riddle. Do take notes of numerical details like how many of this or that that you come across – you will regret it if you don’t.
The Buccaneers of Shadaki seem to be written for new gamers in mind, which will explains the simplistic campaign and the general lack of anything that may intimidate newcomers. Like the previous gamebook, this one will entertain those who are new to the scene, but veteran players may feel that the series has burned out with very little new to offer.