Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-39777-X
Into the Jaws of Doom is the gamebook-iest gamebook you will ever find in the Give Yourself Goosebumps line, in that it requires you to roll a pair of dice, and your actions as well as the sequence you carry them out matter a lot. There is only one true happy ending here, and everything else spells death and despair.
Well, you’re on a school trip to the Hall of Incredible Science, and what really captivate you are the video games in the Thinking Machines Room. In fact, you are so intent on getting high scores that you only realize you are in deep crap when the video game screen goes black, a weird message comes on the screen – “Help me! The Super Computer has taken over!” and when you reasonably decide to get out of this place by taking the elevator, the doors won’t open to let you get out. You’re trapped! There is an ally who can help you, but first, you have to get out of the elevator alive…
Really, just how much your school mates and teachers must hate you to leave without checking to see whether you are with them?
At any rate, that’s the plot. The Super Computer wants you dead to cover up its machinations, so it will turn everything in the Hall of Incredible Science into a threat on your life. You will first pick some stuff to start out with, and then collect stuff along the way in a specific order, and avoid some random bad endings along the way. You will also be asked to roll the dice to determine whether you can extricate yourself from a sticky situation, and take note that there is no order or logic here. Sometimes, rolling a high score will earn you a favorable outcome, but at other times, it will just lead you to disaster.
The whole thing is actually quite fun, if not at all very Goosebumps-like (it’s more like a Baby’s First Fighting Fantasy), since there are enough interesting episodic adventures here to keep you intrigued, at least for the first time or two you play this campaign. However, each entry is markedly shorter than that of other gamebooks in this line, so this campaign is noticeably lacking in plot and flavor. At least there are no useless friends or relatives here to bug you, for that that’s worth!
The mix of randomness, chance, and narrow window for success means that Into the Jaws of Doom may take a few tries to go through – provided you cheat like everyone else, of course – but still, there are many things such as the fight with the Visible Man to enjoy. This is a pretty good experiment, if nothing else, and it’s quite a shame that similarly styled entries never show up in this line.
On the other hand, once you’ve figured the correct path (or taken a peek at the solution at the back of Checkout Time at the Dead-End Hotel), there’s nothing much left to discover. So, you may not have many reasons to revisit this one.