Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Choose Your Own Adventure

 Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Sure you do. Bet you haven't actually played one in years though. Neither had I until I stumbled across one because I was looking for something else.

I am a big fan of the Judge Dredd series and I am currently collecting the ever-long Complete Case Files series (I've only made it to book 6 out of 42 and I think they are still being released). If you've never heard of Judge Dredd... well that is just impossible. Sylvester Stallone did that very 90's action movie as the titular hero (completely butchering it yet still an entertaining watch) and you've definitely seen that (you should also watch the other Judge Dredd movie with Karl Urban which is also great). Other than that you don't really need to know more than he's a British comic book character from the 70's, with the comic still running. And I love it. In post-apocalyptic Mega City 1 literally anything can happen and the stories are wonderfully entertaining social commentaries while also exploring the human nature. Judge Dredd himself is also simply the coolest protagonist of any comic, I'll fight you for it.

So while looking for more Judge Dredd comics to throw my money at I found out that they had released the Complete Dice Man which is a collection of Choose Your Own Adventure series originally published in the 80's. The cover has Judge Dredd on it. I had to get that, of course. Judge Dredd only makes up one out of 15 of the stories in the book however, but it's a great one.

In it Judge Dredd has to go into a creepy mansion to face one of his most formidable foes, the Dark Judges lead by Judge Death, who is just as peachy as the name suggests. If you've seen the Hellraiser movies, you can think of them as a type of Cenobites but inspired by the Four Horsemen. Judge Death is accompanied by Judge Mortis, Judge Fear and Judge Fire to make life shitty for everyone around them. Judge Fear is pretty useless against Judge Dredd though because he can't feel fear. Grab you pen, paper and dice and jump in!

As you know with Choose Your Own Adventure, you get a selection of actions to take throughout the story where most of them end up in brutal death (or is that just the stories I read?). Video Games like King's Quest must've been heavily inspired by these kind of books. It takes a bit of discipline not to read ahead in these books, especially the comic book ones where the imagery is right there in front of your eyes. A well designed book won't have the pathways you can take right next to each other, but require you to jump around from page to page, that way you decrease your chances of accidentally looking ahead.

It took me four tries to get through the Judge Dredd Adventure, that bastard Judge Death crushed my heart three times (he loves doing that) before I could find my way through the mansion that allowed me to trick him back to his own dimension (yeah, he never dies). But it was such a blast and now I have a craze for these CYOA books that I felt I needed to share with you guys. So dig in your cellars, check your flea markets or even better, go order some from your local book store. You will have some great non-screen-time fun.


  1. Woah... That's a new one on me.

    I had the Choose Your Own books that Iron Crown Enterprises put out for Middle-earth based on their MERP/Rolemaster system, and there were the Joe Devers Kai books, but I hadn't ever seen these before.

    1. Digging around there are all kinds. I've ordered some for my kid that I will check out as well.