If you grew up in the 1980s, and had any interest in sci-fi or fantasy fiction or gaming, you’d be no doubt familiar with the Fighting Fantasy books. Usually concerning Dungeons and Dragons territory, the series were ingenious single-player games continued in a short piece of literature. Freeway Fighter was a detour from the typical world into a future apocalyptic landscape. A rare post-apocalyptic book where you are the hero!
What’s Freeway Fighter all about?
Taking obvious overtones from Mad Max, Freeway Fighter follows the main character, you branching out across a desert wasteland to connect your tribe of survivors, New Hope, with another. It is a breakneck mission to re-establish civilisation – and, sadly for you, it seems everyone outside these two civilisations is less than a savoury egg. Making life or death choices with every chapter, you have to drive a load of supplies via motorbike gangs and seductive thieves, all the while continually running out of petrol…
What’s special about Freeway Fighter?
Freeway Fighter exudes the post-apocalyptic archetype laid out in Mad Max, from the motor-punk setting to the weird metal outfits the apocalyptic survivors start donning. It’s full of kitsch artwork celebrating this imagery. A work of deep, thoughtful literature it might not be – but it does have a unique place in our hearts as a gaming book, something where the narrative depends a little on your uninformed choices, and a little on luck. It’s more than a story, it’s an interactive experience, and something of a maze to get through.
Even as a Fighting Fantasy book, it should be noted, this entry was something special. Not only does it deviate from the usual fantasy realms, for the post-apocalyptic setting, but it also gives the player a more developed gaming mechanic, as you have a car to worry about (leading to both regular fights and vehicle combat – what!). For something a bit different, or even just for a bit of nostalgia, it’s well worth revisiting, even 30 years on.