Monday, January 17, 2011
Nintendo Adventure Books 5: Pipe Down!
Here again to entertain us is Clyde Bosco, a competent gamebook writer who especially manages to shine when he’s working with a clever premise. You may not know it for the first two thirds of the adventure, but that’s once again the case in this book.
It’s Princess Toadstool’s 99th birthday, and every single present she’s gotten is a pair of shoes. When she puts on a pair of dazzling red gym shoes weird music suddenly starts playing, causing her to grab a basketball and start dribbling out of sight. Just before the music takes her away, she tells Mario and Luigi to go looking through her shoe vault for a solution to the problem.
Most previous non-Leaping Lizards books in the series seemed content to have Mario and Luigi run around until they bumped into a monster from the games and had to figure a way around it. This book still has that, but it’s blended with puzzles that are decently challenging without making even adult readers scratch their heads in confusion, and a great sense of humor. Whoever decided to build a slot machine into the castle’s elevator, you’re a maniac, but it was highly amusing to just get a hundred coins and a Starman out of thin air. I’ve especially liked the allusion to a grocery cart falling down stairs since I got this book in fifth grade. Finding the princess’s bowling ball collection while looking for her shoe collection was also funny, but the results were kind of confusing. If it crushed even the Mario Bros.’s money into uselessness, it’s hard to think how they didn’t end up grateful for the concept of extra lives, too.
The reason for the sneakers and weird music is rather amusing as well, even if it does end up sounding a lot like the plot of one of the assorted Super Mario cartoon shows. Pipe Down isn’t without a few flaws, though. Two items don’t appear on the scorecard, for one thing. Also, it’s a little disappointing that by finishing the book the player automatically receives a number of coins that well past maximizes their score. If you get the highest rank just for beating the book however you get there, it hurts the incentive to read it over looking for a more optimized route. It’s also kind of weird that when you’re supposed to pick a pair of magic boots, the ones the princess asked you to find, that’s the one place in the book without a puzzle to give you a clue to the right choice.
And this never came up during early readings, but looking back, all the emphasis on shoes gives the book a weird kind of Sex and the City undertone.
The book’s shortcomings are pretty minor, however. Among the Mario Bros.’s adventures in book form, this is without a doubt one of the better ones.