To Be or Not To Be Paperback – 1 Aug 2013
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"The Bard would not protest too much, wethinks." --Cbc
From the Inside Flap
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William Shakespeare s Hamlet has finally been restored to its original second-person non-linear branching narrative format. I know! What took so long, am I right?
Now it s up to YOU to decide what happens next. Play as Hamlet and revenge your father s death. Play as Ophelia and make scientific discoveries. Play as King Hamlet, Sr. and die on the first page!
This deluxe edition features insanely beautiful illustrations for every ending, a book-within-a-book, and lots of ways to stab dudes.
To be or not to be: that is the adventure!"
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I think you can tell from that one sentence whether or not the book is for you.
If you can't stand to see the classic pulled apart and prodded at, be cautious, but North's skill and style might still win you over. To Be or Not To Be is the best sort of parody - one that goes over every line in Shakespeare's original with a magnifying glass and mocks it mercilessly while still showing a thoughtful appreciation and fondness of the play. See any edition of 'Dinosaur Comics' for an idea of the kind of thorough analysis, smart-ass and righteously PC commentary and gleefully silly fourth-wall jokes you can expect. In the prologue, Ophelia is described as having 'a -1 weakness against water'.
Also be aware that this is an ebook rather than a game in the strictest sense - though it's very much an interactive 'choose your own adventure'. North takes the time to get as much as he can from the premise ('make fun of Hamlet'), sometimes allowing the player's choices to explore wild tangents that have less to do with the original play but are there as options for those who would rather help Claudius battle skeletons than pick apart another soliloquy. Throughout, though, the book goes to the trouble of adding multiple, widely-varied paths and alternate 'playable characters'.
The price tag is perhaps a little high, but the presentation attempts to justify it and doesn't skimp on quality illustrations from numerous respected webcomic authors, which is a very nice touch.
At one point in my first read-through I had Hamlet make up for his caution by turning into the Incredible Hulk over Ophelia's grave. I love it.