Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-93485-6
Scary babysitters are a common trope in the Goosebumps series, so the mothership that is Attack of the Beastly Babysitter is just a matter of time in arriving. No, really – one route takes you to an otherworldly theme park place run by giant rat creatures.
Yes, there is the inevitable annoying sibling here, the younger brother Stinko. The moniker is appropriate, although fortunately, he’s not as bad as the wretch in Tick Tock, You’re Dead!. Then again, that’s like saying that amputating a finger may not be as bad as cutting off the whole hand. At any rate, your mother has hired a babysitter for you and Stinko for a few days, and Mary Ellen is not available. Instead, Zoe with her “mousy” nature shows up. Before long, she pulls out a spinner and lets you try for either “Fun” or “Games”. What it lands on will determine your story in this campaign.
Land on “Fun” and you and Stinko get whisked off to Fun Zone, which is a truly out of this world theme park full of games and such… run by giant rats who are looking for that last ingredient in their shape-shifting formula: grated kid. Land on “Games” and Zoe is replaced by Dare, a sinister tattooed creature whose tattoos can come to life even as he makes you and Stinko play lethal games of chance.
The route with Dare is quite full of LOL random moments, and hence it is the less interesting option despite Dare being a fantastic villain. The Fun Zone route has a far more structured story line – depending on your choices, the giant rats are either monsters or more sympathetic victims wishing to be humans again – but the story itself is a clichéd, overdone one. Still, this route has some fantastic atmosphere, something far more substantial than Dare’s random route. Mind you, the more sympathetic portrayal of the giant rats doesn’t jive with the rest of the stuff in that route – why call your babysitting company KidScare when you just want some love? – so some suspension of disbelief is still needed. Pretend to be a ten-year old with ADHD, and you’ll be fine playing this one.
Hence, you have the option of taking one of two routes that each has both obvious strengths and flaws. There are interesting moments in each one, just as there are facepalm, cringe-inducing ones too. All things considered, three oogies will be a fair score for this one.