RPGamer Feature - Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain Interview
Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
Developer: Big Blue Bubble
Publisher: Aspyr
ESRB: Teen
Release Date: 11.25.2009

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Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is a first-person RPG for the DS that is based on the interactive gamebooks by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone. We here at RPGamer were curious to learn more about this unique title, so we contacted the publisher Aspyr to learn more. Aspyr did us a big favor by putting us in contact with the game's developer, specifically Jason Willis, VP External Development for Big Blue Bubble Inc. Here's what Jason had to say about his company's upcoming title.

Greetings Jason. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Let's talk about your upcoming game, Fighting Fantasy. We know that game is based off of the original Fighting Fantasy adventure book. Can you provide us with a brief history about what the series is all about?
Jason Willis, VP External Development, Big Blue Bubble Inc.: The Fighting Fantasy gamebooks were similar to other interactive gamebooks more common in the US, most notably the Choose Your Own Adventure series, in that the reader takes control of the story's protagonist, making many choices over the course of the story and turning to different pages in order to learn the outcome of their decisions. Most of the books in the series were authored by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone who went on to become the co-founders of Games Workshop.

Could you explain for those who have never read the novel what the plot premise is about and how it ties into the DS game?
J. Willis: You are an adventurer who finds himself in a small village called Stonebridge where the townsfolk speak of an evil warlock named Zagor. The warlock rules atop Firetop Mountain and, being an all-powerful wizard, he naturally has a large stash of loot which you plan to pilfer.

Please tell us a little about the first-person combat system. What kinds of options do players have?
J. Willis: The combat in Fighting Fantasy consists of powerful spells, ranged attacks and good ol' fashioned hack'n'slash. Combat controls are fully customizable and utilize the touch screen for precise aiming. The lower screen also houses programmable 'hot buttons' which allow you to have many weapons and abilities at your disposal.

How is character customization handled for combat? Are there different classes to choose from or is it all handled via stat customization?
J. Willis: Your character is fully customizable; you're not pigeonholed into a specific class. To begin the game you can answer a series of questions designed to predict the style of play you prefer, but this is only a suggestion. Some of the most powerful character builds consist of unique combinations of equipment, attributes and abilities. A plate-wearing battle mage? A poisonous axe-wielding assassin? The choice is yours.

What about the customization of your character's look and aesthetic design? How many options do you have with that?
J. Willis: From the first person perspective, the only part of your character you can see is the weapon. It is for this reason that we insisted that every single weapon in the game have its own unique graphic, (and there are a ton of them). The armor and accessories in the game are represented on the inventory screen by detailed icons consisting of well over 300 unique images.

How does Fighting Fantasy differentiate from other first person dungeon crawlers?
J. Willis: Other dungeon crawlers on the DS can't hold a candle, (or torch, as it were) to the visuals in Fighting Fantasy. The dynamic lighting, high resolution textures and realistic 3D environments create an eerily immersive atmosphere never before experienced on this platform.

What about the game's difficultly, is it adjustable? How challenging is Fighting Fantasy?
J. Willis: Fighting Fantasy can be very difficult. At the beginning, the game will suggest one of three, viable character builds based on a series of soul searching questions. All of these starting configurations will hold their own in the mountain and provide a solid starting place for character progression. However, the player also has the option to 'customize' their attributes and abilities as they see fit. Depending on the choices they make, the game difficulty can ramp up significantly.

What kind of replay incentive is there?
J. Willis: Once you have completed the storyline, you are able to replay as many times as you like, keeping all of your attributes, abilities and equipment. The enemies will become increasingly difficult in subsequent playthroughs but will carry even more powerful loot.

Why was the DS the system of choice for Fighting Fantasy? Did the system allow you to fit all of your design options in? Does the DS version share any ties with the iPhone Fighting Fantasy titles?
J. Willis: The decision to bring the world of Fighting Fantasy to the Nintendo DS was based purely on our experience with the platform and the existence of our ground breaking 3D engine. We're all big fans of the series, so having the opportunity to bring this world to the DS was something we were all very excited about.

While Fighting Fantasy for DS is an epic adventure based on a beloved gamebook, the iPhone title is a purist recreation of the book with some very cool bells and whistles.

What features were not able to make it in that you really wanted to put in the game?
J. Willis: We had a wish list a mile long! It is usually the case that you have so many great ideas and so little time when making a game but that's what sequels are for! In particular, I would have loved to have armor sets in the game which offer bonuses for each additional piece of the set you acquire.

How much will Fighting Fantasy veterans get out of this game compared to newcomers?
J. Willis: Veterans of the Fighting Fantasy books will recognize the characters and locations in the game. Some of the quests, encounters and dilemmas are also borrowed from the book directly. However, knowing nothing of the series won't take away from the experience of exploring Firetop Mountain and its denizens.

What does the future hold of the Fighting Fantasy series? Can we expect to see more games in the series? Even if you can't confirm anything, could at least share some ideas of what you'd like to do next?
J. Willis: We'll let the fans decide.

RPGamer would like to thank Jason Willis from Big Blue Bubble Inc. and the team at Aspyr helping to coordinate this interview. Fighting Fantasy: The Warlock of Firetop Mountain for the Nintendo DS is currently scheduled for release later this November.

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