Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-39775-3
For once, you are the lone sane person in the campaign when your parents buy a place called Swamp House. Like its name would tell you, it’s located right at the edge of a smelly, ugly swamp appropriately enough called Stinkeye Swamp. You don’t want to live there! Still, there are rumors of a treasure hidden somewhere in the swamp, although it is under what is famously known as Annabelle’s Curse. Hmm. Anyway, living there isn’t that bad, and you even make a new friend, Zeke, who is tad obsessed with the treasure.
Then, one day, while exploring the basement of Swamp House, the two of you find… no, not the Necronomicon, thankfully, but a telescope as well as a diary. Take a look at one – whichever you look at will send you on a route that will lead you to the treasure, or death. Wait, were you supposed to the sane person here? Scratch that – the moment there is a chance you may get your hands on treasure, you’re all “Go, go, go!” – just you and Zeke, with no prior preparation. You deserve what you get during this adventure, truly.
Take the telescope, and you will explore Stinkeye Swamp, where you may discover that Annabelle is a ship that once ran aground in this swamp. Read the diary, and you will go treasure hunting in a route which has Annabelle being the ghost of a young lady who once tried to use the tunnels under the house to go dance with a boy her parents had forbid her to see, only to meet her end in the tunnels. Along the way, watch out for crocodiles, undead hungry goldfish that ended up in the swamp after being flushed down the toilet (heh), ghouls, angry ghosts, and your furious mother.
Lost in Stinkeye Swamp has the makings of a fun campaign, but it is an unusually linear one even for that of a gamebook in this series. More often than not, taking one option will lead to a bad end, either right at the next entry or a few entries down the road, as there is only one true route to a happy ending for each of the four possible story routes here (each main arc will branch off eventually into two smaller arcs). Hence, there isn’t much replay value once you’ve figured out the right routes, especially since the routes are all quite similar in nature (lost in the swamps, looking for the treasure). This could be due to the possibility that this is an unsold Goosebumps novel hastily converted into a gamebook, as there is one notable arc that feels like a compressed but whole story line, with it leading to the “best” best ending.
Still, this entire campaign feels too compressed and even choppy for its own good. Things end just as you feel that things are getting good, and you will close this gamebook thinking that everything here feels underdeveloped. If this one had been longer, with more entries, this one could have been a fun The Goonies-like adventure to play. As it is, it’s just an okay campaign.