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Books & Games
By Hilary Williamson, May 2010

Video and computer games are based on story, though some much more than others. And we've all seen these story universes manifest in different media - books, audiobooks and comics; computer and video games; television series and movies.

Star Wars VaultThe one that comes immediately to mind is Star Wars. The blockbuster movies (the first burst on the scene in 1977) spun off a seemingly endless series of books (for all ages), comics, television series, computer and video games - that have significantly expanded the original storyline. Though my sons have enjoyed the action-packed, lightsaber-wielding games, my personal favorite is a challenging Lucas Learning logic puzzle game, Star Wars Pit Droids.

HaloThe increasing popularity of computer and video games has resulted in a transfer in the other direction - well received games (with their relatively limited storylines) morphing into books that fill out these fictional universes and appeal beyond the gaming audience. A prime example is the well executed Halo series (based on the popular Xbox game) that started with Halo: Contact Harvest. Contributing authors include Tobias S. Buckell and Karen Traviss and the series appeals to military SF readers.

Tiger EyeThough these spin-offs seem most common in speculative fiction (including manga based on games like Kingdom Hearts and .hack), they occur in other genres too, for example the popular Nancy Drew puzzle games. Now author Marjorie M. Liu has made the jump from book to game with her paranormal romance, Tiger Eye. In it, psychic weapon-maker Dela Reese opens a Chinese puzzle box in Beijing. Seven-foot tall shapeshifter Hari materializes, ready to do her bidding. Together they fight off a wicked Magi and assorted assassins.

PassionFruit Games delivered a well-priced 'first of its kind romance casual game' (for PC and Mac) out of the Chinese locations in Curse of the Riddle Box. In this first of a two part game, the relationship story (a rather sweet one) is told in video sequences embedded in a variety of puzzles - matching objects, logic and word games, jigsaw puzzles, neuron-connecting games, brain teasers etc.. They must be solved to advance levels, but clues are available if needed to progress.

I enjoyed the puzzles very much (not being a great romance fan, I skipped over some of Dela and Hari's videos) and will look out for the second game, which will be based on the U.S. adventures in the original story. I predict that these Tiger Eye games will be a success and generate even more fans for the original story - in particular the teen crowd, though its hours of puzzle-solving are entertaining for all ages. I look forward to more such romance casual games.
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