F.I.S.T was the title given to Steve Jackson's interactive Fighting Fantasy game that appeared in the mid 80's and was played over the telephone network. In 1989 Steve wrote and directed the world's first telephone adventure game: F.I.S.T. (Fantasy Interactive Scenarios by Telephone) which was played like an interactive radio drama.
The game itself was a lavish production and was well received by Fighting Fantasy™ fans for its use of professional voice actors and hundreds of different sound effects.
The telephone adventure used solo adventures that were translated into sounds and voice-overs that could be heard over the phone. To play a player would call the number up, register and create a on-going character. F.I.S.T itself was a dungeon adventure with myriad characters and treasures, and the promise of winning actual gold coins at the game's conclusion. It was possible to find out who was doing well from hi-score tables and you could save your position, placing the character into Limbo, and return again later however many times you wanted. Like Fighting Fantasy™ a player would progress through the adventure having encounters. Fights were generally used with magic, and you would have a selection of spells with numeric codes to choose from. When you were fighting, you would get a description of what your enemy was doing (i.e. a blue cloud appears around the hands of the sorcerer) and you had to guess the spell and effectively counter it. Choices would be made by selecting keys on the phone.
F.I.S.T later spawned a sequel (see below) and a plethora of other companies tried variations across different genres, from horror to science-fiction. A later development was a gladiatorial games adventure with focus on combat over adventure, phone-calls filled with grunting sounds and descriptions of terrible injuries.
The phone-based adventure game proved expensive for many Fighting Fantasy fans. At launch the basic cost per minute was 25 pence off-peak (approximately 6pm to 8am) and 38 pence during peak hours. This was quite expensive and an actual adventure could easily result in a considerable bill at the end of each month - and a considerable headache for parents. It was advertised heavily in White Dwarf.
'Gladiators of the Roman Empire' was a sequel to F.I.S.T and involved fighting against the computer or even another caller, dialling random numbers to duck, evade, leap, slash, stab and lunge. At the beginning, I think the game featured a variety of weapons for the player to choose from.