Chooseco, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-933390-04-8
First published in 1982 as The Lost Jewels, The Lost Jewels of Nabooti has been revised and reissued for a new generation of kids. While this may be a Choose Your Own Adventure gamebook written by RA Montgomery, it is surprisingly minimal in hippie dipstick sis-boom-bah. It still have the obligatory peace and love rah-rah stuff, but this could be an attempt to compensate for the fact that your standard American seeking jewels taken from an African tribe may not be kosher with the politically correct atmosphere of today. But screw political correctness. The allure of treasure hunting in exotic places full of intrigue and danger is still as enduring today as it is ages ago, and if you like that kind of Indiana Jones and the King’s Solomon Mines vibe, The Lost Jewels of Nabooti is surprisingly enjoyable.
You are basically some fellow summoned by your cousins Peter and Lucy who need your help. Years ago their father bought some jewels from a Moroccan trader and donated them to a museum in Paris. Well, now the jewels are stolen, and your cousins want you to help them find it. Why you, who are not part of the Interpol or anything even remotely trained to do this kind of thing? And how lame is that, that your cousins can’t help you because apparently their lives are in danger if they help? And why are they even on this case? Don’t we have Interpol or something like that to handle this type of matters? Oh yes, RA Montgomery, Choose Your Own Adventure. Carry on, darlings.
There are many short arcs here, depending on the options you take, but the element of randomness is less in-your-face than usual. Most of the twists and turns here aren’t terribly original, and Mr Montgomery lays it pretty thickly how pacifism and love are often the best choices to take in life, but he succeeds in creating some pretty good atmosphere and tension here. There are times when this whole thing really does feel like a family-friendly swashbuckling adventure, and some of the bad endings can be quite gruesome.
It is also amusing how there is an option to walk away from the entire quest in the beginning, but getting there requires going through some “Are you sure? Really sure?” entries. Mr Montgomery really doesn’t want you to wait for Pagan Min to come back to the dining table, if you know what I mean.
The Lost Jewels of Nabooti is fun entry in this line, and it’s especially a delight considering that it is served up by RA Montgomery, who normally doesn’t do this kind of fun well.