Return to Firetop Mountain (1992)

Fighting Fantasy 50 celebrates an astounding number of adventure gamebooks by returning to where it all started, Firetop Mountain. In the uncleverly named Return to Firetop Mountain (1992), Zagor has returned from the dead and is hellbent on taking his revenge on the whole world, unless you stop him. Honestly, fat chance of that.

There are a couple things missing that I feel like should be here. For one, Steve Jackson. He didn’t work on this book at all, which is a shame, because his non-linear maze in the first part was probably the best part of the book. The maze is also missing. So is Russ Nicholson’s art. I am not going to complain overmuch: A Les Edwards cover and a pile of gorgeous Martin McKenna interiors is more than adequate, but is seems weird to not have had Russ pen the big anniversary. That said, McKenna’s work here is pretty astounding. The tonal range in his ink work boggles my mind. Truly gorgeous.

Good stuff aside, the book is fairly linear, early missed items can doom you and, I dunno, Zagor seems utterly unkillable if you’re playing fair. Those things aside (I know, it’s a pile of stuff, but still), this is a heck of a read, full of gloomy atmosphere, horrible monsters and strange encounters. I generally want FFs to be these puzzles I fiddle with over time, that reward multiple playthrough and all, but they don’t have to be that. This one isn’t, it’s just a rip-roaring good read. Once. Sometimes that’s enough.

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