The Genesis Quest is the first of two gamebooks based on Lemmings 2: The Tribes. You might be thinking of the Choose Your Own Adventure books, but saying you can choose your own adventure is a little generous, because there's only one outcome: you get all the talisman pieces and save the lemmings. Okay, you can also lose all your lemmings in a tribe, but you just replay it, and you really have to be trying to do this in most cases. And sure, you have to decide between going through the clowns or the lion cage here and there, but said choices rarely amount to anything. Also, I lied when I said the only outcome is to save all the lemmings, because the Sports tribe is unwinnable.

Well done, you two.

At the start of the book you have 50 lemmings and eight of the twelve tribes to play in any order, and for some reason there's an Outdoor lemming on the cover when that isn't one of the playable tribes. Each tribe has nine skills to divide your lemmings up among, although you need clairvoyance to know which lemmings are actually going to be useful because a single Attractor might make or break your adventure, while you'll never need to use your dozen Builders. So you just divide them up as equally as possible and hope for the best. When you complete a tribe, you add five lemmings to however many survived, and take that many lemmings into the next tribe you chose to play. You do this until all eight tribes are completed, and get a shit ending.

If the pissy, yet dry and unenthusastic writing hasn't already tipped you off, I'm haven't exactly been looking forward to this. I actually played through it almost two years ago, and I was originally planning to write this up as a sort of walkthrough of the whole book. Days turned into weeks which then turned into months of frustration, until I finally realized it was time for an overhaul because there was no way the result wasn't going to very annoying for me to write and very boring for you to read. Especially since most of the Medieval, Shadow, and Polar tribes are spent navigating mazes that amount to you choosing between two or three paths until the game finally lets you advance, and this is being written based on the extensive notes I took those two years ago and what I care to double check in the book, because no way in hell am I going through the entire thing again.

The logic is so random and inconsistent that most of your decisions just don't matter. Screwing around with a barrel will reward you with fuel for your Flamethrower lemmings, while moments later investigating a light will result in blinded lemmings falling into random holes while the book calls you a loser. Other times your choices are illusions as you're presented with two paths to go down, but one of them turns out to be a dead end and the book tells you to go the other way instead. And that's if the route you choose makes any difference at all, since both might dump you at the same destination anyway, and both might even ask you to roll a die to see if you lost a couple lemmings along the way. It's hard to feel any sense of accomplishment when the book could be played just as well by a random number generator.

The book also throws in a handful of moments where your lemmings are blocked off by a monster. These are fought by assigning a score to each type of lemming you brought with, rolling a die, and winning with the power of preschool arithmetic. And usually not even that, because you can insta-win by playing some terrible music with your Musician lemming to scare away the dragon or sicing a pack of penguins on the polar bear (it's a long story), or you can just avoid the battle with the troll in the first place by not being a dick. In fact, I think the shadow monster in the Shadow Tribe is the only mandatory battle, and that one even fakes you out by asking if you'd like to run away if it kills one of your lemmings, then saying you can't.

Oh, and the Sports tribe being unwinnable? Actually, that whole tribe is pretty screwed up. The first red flags went up when I found myself at a horizontal pole that was "about two meters off the ground", and since the book never established how tall the lemmings are and the thought of a five- to six-foot lemming totally creeps me out, I ended up disqualified for taking pole vaulters into the high jump. You're also asked after every event if you'd like to go to the award ceremony, which is the game's funny way of asking if you'd like to screw yourself or not. Not that it matters, because you need ten points to win the tribe, but as far as I can tell the most you can get is three gold medals at three points apiece, so the maximum score is nine. Either the wording is fucked up and you were meant to do both the triple and long jumps rather than one or the other, or the book's QA was. Considering all the other bullshit the book hits you with, and that the aforementioned battle in the Shadow tribe asks you to assign a score to any lemmings belonging to a skill that isn't available in that tribe, I'm leaning towards the latter.

I'm already sick of writing about this, so I'll leave you with this gem at paragraph 9 that I think sums up the book nicely:

Thinking about it, this was bound to happen, wasn't it? You can't blame the Lemmings for this, they're not supposed to think! YOU ARE!!!

Go back to 385 and try something different. You may also, if you wish, write 'FOOL' on your forehead in felt-tip pen - only, judging by your past performance, you'll probably do it in the mirror and write 'LOOF' instead!

Needless to say, I am not looking forward to Hypnosis Enigma.