3. Sonic vs. Zonik
Authors: Nigel Gross and Jon Sutherland
Illustrators: Uncredited (provided by a company called Selecciones Illustradas)
First Published: 1994
Length: 300 sections
Number of Endings: 24 (1 victory, 4 instant failures, 19 conditional failures)
Plot Summary: Robotnik has created an evil duplicate of Sonic, and it
must be stopped quickly!
My Thoughts: My expectations for this book were fairly low, since I
figured that it would be difficult to follow James Wallis' excellent act.
Alas, my fears were justified. This book isn't nearly as good as the first
two. First of all, the humor is almost entirely gone -- there were one or
two jokes that were passable, but for the most part the book's attempts at
being funny ranged from unimpressive to cringeworthy. Worse, the general
quality of the writing is remarkably low; most upsetting is the fact that the
tense keeps changing from present to past and back again in a distracting
(not to mention amateurish) manner. This sort of error, especially as
widespread as it is here, simply should not have made it past the editor.
And speaking of errors, there are a lot of game-breaking typos present. At
first there's nothing too severe, just the occasional point where the numbers
for choices are reversed. As you approach the conclusion of the book,
though, things get really bad. Sometimes you'll end up in a section which
has no relevance to what you're doing, and other times you'll get stuck in an
infinite loop of vaguely related (but obviously not quite right) sections.
Either way, the book frequently forces you to backtrack and take other
choices because the area you've reached is completely incomprehensible. As
with the tense problems, this simply should not have made it past the editor.
The final blow is the fact that, as with the rest of the books, the combat
system is rather vaguely defined, making battles hard to resolve
satisfactorily and making the book even more frustrating than it should be.
Even without these problems, the book couldn't be considered much more than
an average effort. It has a few interesting ideas (most notably a "zone
chip" which can be used at any time to warp into a different area of the
book), but these don't do it too much good in the face of all the
pointlessness on display. Far, far too many of the choices are of the random
"do you go left or right?" variety, and there are two fairly
tedious mazes (three if you count the otherwise somewhat nifty pinball
machine puzzle) that serve as little more than padding -- to be fair, though,
I should mention that at least one maze offers an easy solution if you get
a good enough roll of the dice. Ultimately, if not for the many typos, the
mission would be an easy one -- I finished it on my second attempt and lost
within just one move of victory on the first (though it's possible I
unintentionally cheated due to vague rules). I'd recommend avoiding this
one -- while the first two books were surprisingly fresh and entertaining,
this is more what you'd expect of a licensed video game gamebook: a cynical
attempt to cash in on a popular name with the help of a hacked-together,
My High Score: 120 rings
Errata: Your starting equipment isn't listed on the character sheet,
though I think it's just supposed to consist of the Energy Gun. The choices
are reversed in sections 298 and 119. The path that leads from 82 to 67
should in fact lead to 121 instead. The path from 85 to 68 should instead
lead to 227. The transitions from 216 to 114, 153 to 268 and 199 to 97 are
all wrong, though I'm not sure where the paths actually should lead. The
only place where I'd make a guess about a correction for an incomprehensible
transition is in the jump from 180 to 76, which works slightly better if you
replace 76 with 234 (though it still doesn't make much sense).