Scholastic, $3.99, ISBN 0-590-93477-5
That Dracula’s canine creature on the cover is Fifi, your family poodle. That’s right, Please Don’t Feed the Vampire! may see Fifi turning into a vampire dog and give rise to a pack of canine vampires terrorizing the neighborhood, but that’s just one of the possible ways your campaign can turn out to be.
Let’s start at the beginning. You have ordered a Vampire in a Can special for Halloween – it contains all you need to dress up as a vampire, what with the cape, fangs, and even a removable tattoo of teeth marks. Unfortunately, as your BFF Gabe points out, the whole thing makes you look dorky. The fun begins when the two of you spot a packet containing what seems like blood at the bottom of the can. The packet has a “DANGER – KEEP AWAY!” label, so of course you feel the urge to tear the packet open with your teeth to see what the “blood” tastes like.
If you do that, oops, it’s blood that turns you into a vampire. If you opt to stay sane, Fifi shows up and bites into the packet, turning into a vampire poodle and running away. So there you go, into one of two different routes in this campaign to explore.
This one deserves lots of love for not being a traditional or lazy rehash of a typical vampire in town story. The vampire poodle arc, despite being spotlighted on the cover, is actually the shorter and arguably less interesting of the two arcs. The one where you become a vampire has far more interesting twists and turns – there is the usual fish out of water, learning to walk scenario, but you may end up finding yourself up against a cabal of ancient vampires, become framed for the murder of the kids in your neighborhood, or even embracing the joys of being an evil vampire often with cringe-overload results (sadly, you’re more school than cool). Interestingly, you can actually stumble upon good endings in which you live happily ever after as a vampire.
Please Don’t Feed the Vampire! is a fun campaign, and it also lets you feel like a hero of your own story instead of just being dragged through LOL random choices. Your decisions feel like they matter most of the time. The twists and turns don’t feel too random; rather, they come off like well-planned elements in a coherent, entertaining story. The humor is pretty good too, with both homages as well as satirical jabs at common vampire tropes. Additionally, there are both menacing and goofy vampires here, sometimes co-existing, and the end result is fangoria fun instead of the messy chaos you may expect it to be.
On the down side, a few options are actually fake-outs – choosing them will see you getting scolded by RL Stine for doing so before the campaign comes to an abrupt close. This is a cheap and lazy kind of humor that feels out of place when compared to the rest of the campaign.
Nonetheless, this one remains a bloody joyride, and it also doesn’t come off as too predictable or lazy. It’s definitely one of the strongest gamebooks in the Give Yourself Goosebumps line, so it’s not too shocking to learn that it’s the only entry that has an official reissue from the publisher in 2015.