|Possibly the latest newcomer to Clan Toreador|
I must admit entirely honestly, I'm not the main audience for this book. But that's half the fun. I'm about 15 years too old and the wrong gender. Oh well, I'm sure I'll get through it all okay. My relationships with vampires is always a bit of an unusual one, mostly due to my teenage obsession with Anne Rice (I know, I know... I've grown up a lot since then). Who knows, maybe I'll be able to find my very own Lestat in this adventure? Or, if I'm unlucky, I might end up with an Edward Cullen... why am I even comparing these two in terms of romance? I'm not interested in either!
Oh well. This is a much more lightweight gamebook than the archetypal Tin Man games, without an inbuilt combat system, which means that your choices are the factors that entirely dictate the path of the story, like a classic Choose Your Own Adventure story. The book gives you the option to name your heroine, so I choose to name her Butch Rockthrust.
Our plucky Butch is entering her senior year at college. She has many friends, and is always keen to meet any new cute boys around campus. She's very plucky and adventurous, but I decide that her passion lies in acting. I'm given the choice between setting out to become a best-selling author or a woman's boxing champion, but I have a feeling that Butch Rockthrust would prefer to wear sparkling gowns and perform on stage next to her strapping young Romeo.
|Hollywood's first openly gay vampire couple|
Butch heads out to the hottest bar in town with his two girlfriends, Alyssa and Cindy. Cindy is keen to celebrate her new tattoo, which she got to resemble Butch's birthmark. Which of course makes her... kinda creepy. But not to worry, because when we get to the bar, the bartender slips me his phone number. His name is Royce, and he's dreamy. Oh, he has soft fluttery eyes and a cocky bad-boy smile, it just makes me weak at the knees!
He even asks if I'll join him for some shots. But Butch is a good girl who wouldn't want to do anything that might lead her to getting into trouble with boys, she learned all about that on those awful 1950s sexual education films. Instead she slips off home, and tries to cram in some study for the audition that's due in the morning. Totally sensible.My work is rewarded because the very next morning, I arrive at the theater and meet Lukas. Oh, Lukas! *swoon* He's a dream-boat! The exchange student from Prague, he's got tall and has a chiseled chin and lush blond hair and a swimmer's body and he's so cute I could just... wait, what am I blabbing about?
|Your great-granny thought he was hot|
Butch and her friends all head out for a meal to celebrate, but she just can't peel her eyes away from Lukas. She's already forgotten about Royce and decided not to bother calling him. How could I, when Lukas is soooo dreamy. *blissful sighs* Anyway, when she's on her way home that evening, Butch Rockthrust hears a suspicious noise following behind him. He turns to face this unknown thing, and finds that it's Lukas! He's been following our heroine home... oh dear, I don't like where this is going. Before we know it, he's going to be watching her sleep. But it turns out that his intentions are purely honourable. He helps Butch Rockthrust hide from a sinister group of people, who are stalking through the night. Could they be muggers, or maybe evil vampires of some sort? I'm safe with Lukas though. Sigh, Lukas! He's so brave and heroic and...
Lukas walks our heroine home, and while I look for the keys to the door, he moves in for a kiss. His skin is cold to the touch, and he whispers my name, "Butch Rockthrust" into the kiss... okay, this is a bit too much. The next segment asks if I want to 'let nature take its course' as we head into the bedroom, but that's a bit more than I could physically stand without curling into a ball under my desk and laughing wildly. I take the option to make an excuse as to why we can't go into the bedroom. Maybe I tell him that the room has fallen into a bottomless pit.
|If you start to sparkle, I'm getting my gun|
I talk with Lukas (*sigh* So dreamy...) and he seems to know a lot more than he is letting on. He tells me that he is a vampire! But I'm safe, because he's a vegetarian vampire...
... like Count Duckula.
Seriously, for a moment here, does anyone else find it odd that Count Duckula is a more terrifying image of feral vampirism than Edward Cullen? I'm serious here. Anyway...
It seems that the bartender at the local bar is a member of a rival clan of vampires, who are not vegetarians. In fact, they lure humans into their clutches with the promise of casting the in reality tv shows... which possibly explains the last few seasons of Big Brother. He tells me that the evil vampire bartender, Royce, has kidnapped Cindy because they believe that she is me, due to her tattoo. Aha, I knew I shouldn't have trusted him!
You see, it was prophesied that one day, a mortal would be born who was marked with my star birthmark. This girl would win the war between both clans of vampires. Lukas also tells me that he is destined to be my beloved, due to this prophecy. This is Butch's destiny, as he is a descendant of Joan of Arc, whose children were kept secret by the Freemasons. Children like Amelia Earheart, Marilyn Monroe, and I have to stop the evil vampires before they can slay all the good vampires just like they slew Cleopatra and all the women in the Salem witch trials and and and and... my head hurts... I think I need to lay down for a while...
Let me sum all this up for you. Best friend is kidnapped by evil vampires. I'm the Chosen One. Lukas is destined to be my vampire husband. Marilyn Monroe is also involved somehow.
|He's offering you a ride on his motorbike.|
I turn down their kind offer of eternal damnation, although it saddens Lavinia and causes her to look like a saddened kitten. As the Chosen One, Butch has the power to foresee an enemy's weak points, but needs to train in order to fully use this ability, so I have an exciting Rocky-style training montage in which she punches frozen meat and jogs up the steps of the city hall. When I am ready, we gather the family and head to where the evil vampires are holding their collection of human prey - a livestock farm called Camp Delicious.
We all pile into a car, and Butch spends a while snuggling with Lukas. As we travel, Lukas' vamp-daddy reminds us that we'll need to take care of security cameras, and thankfuly Lavinia's a great rifle marksman. Butch makes sure to note Lavinia's slender body, her bold confidence, her flowing hair... oh dear... This is going to end up like Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve in 'The Hunger', isn't it? I use my super-duper Chosen One senses to point out to her where the security cameras are, and leave her to shoot them out one by one.
Me and Lukas slip into the back door of the farm and find out way to the basement level. In the bowels of the farm, I'm able to find the main control room. It is guarded, however, by two particularly evil vampires. Lukas heads off to battle one of the large, brutish types, while Butch Rockthrust gets into a hair-pulling fight with a vampire six-year-old girl. When she catches sight of my birthmark, she offers me anything if I will turn to the dark side and join the evil vampires. Of course I can't be bought! Eat stake, foul vampire thing!
While Lukas prepares to blow up the entire farm, Butch Rockthrust rushes into the barn and saves all of the mortals, most of who are still convinced that they're on a reality tv show. We blow up the barn, save the humans, and defeated the evil vampires! Yay. I do believe that this counts as the best ending for the book. And as an epilogue, I live happily ever after with Lukas...
|When David Bowie's away, the cats come out to play|
No, really, the book gave me this option, so I took it. What can I say? I like alternative happy endings.
So, what did I think of this? Well, there is a slight downside in that occasionally the punctuation and formatting for the writing is a little off, which is distracting at times. I'm also not sure why, on a computer app like this, we still have numbered segments - choices don't need to say 'turn to 213', they could simply say 'click here to kiss Lukas'. This is pretty noticeable when you're accessing the bookmarks, because it simply lists the segment numbers that you've bookmarked in a list, without indicating which stage of the story each bookmark indicates. Minor apples though, because the comedy in this story was sharp and the story was enjoyable enough so much that I did not feel that this was a bother in any way.
The book doesn't have any combat, as mentioned before, which makes it very light reading. It's not a massively long story either, so it's good to enjoy over a lunch break or two. The price of it is low enough to accommodate this, as well. And for that reason, I'm not fussed about the minor punctuation errors. There's loads of achievements (I got one specifically for turning my character into a crazy cat lady in my second playthrough of this, and there's plenty more to boot!), which gives some real replay value - I'm keen to see what would happen if I'd taken the route of the character being an author! It's occasionally very witty, and although I'm hardly the key target audience for it, I still enjoyed it and would recommend this as an alternative to Twilight.
But then, I'd recommend a heavy brick falling onto your head from a great height as an alternative to Twilight, so that may not mean much... Yeah, let's just say I enjoyed this.
I do, however, have a few ideas for more Strange Loves gamebooks, and hopefully if the chaps at Tin Man Games see this, they will consider asking me to write for them.
- First idea - a 30s something university professor builds a man of her dreams in her lab in the basement under the university biology department. Sadly she uses sub-par brain materials, but makes up for this by stitching on a very high-quality 15-inch vibrator. This book would be entitled "Franken-Wang"
- Second idea - no set storyline, but a werewolf story entitled "My boyfriend only likes to do it doggie-style"
- Third idea - you play as a zombie, struggling to win the love of the girl of your dreams. But you are torn between your love for her, and your thirst for her juicy, juicy brains. This book would be entitled "Love hurts (especially when bits fall off)"
Unlike most of my playthroughs, Strange Loves: Vampire Boyfriends is available for purchase now, without needing to ebay for second-hand copies. You can get it on iOS and Android now. It costs less than the price of a sandwich, so my advice is to grab this for lunch and get... your... teeth... into... it.... oh god I'm sorry that was a bad joke I'm sorry i'm sorry i'm sorry oh please dont hurt me