Usborne Books, £4.99, ISBN 978-1-4095-7781-2
Puzzle Gamebook, 2014
Sticker Puzzle Planet used to be just Puzzle Planet back in the 1990s, until the publisher added stickers to keep the kids’ hands busy. The stickers are surprisingly sturdy, by the way – they can be peeled out and reused a few times just fine, although they also end up obscuring quite a bit of the details in the lovely illustrations by Brenda Haw. Similar to other entries in the Puzzle series, each spread contains things to do, such as hunting for things, solving maze puzzles, and resolving clues to come upon solutions. There is nothing too challenging here for adults, but then again, this is a series aimed at kids.
You will be helping Archie, a “junior astronaut” as “space school”. Apparently he did so well in some recent tests that he receives a letter from Professor Moon, asking him to come visit the Professor’s place in Puzzle Planet as the man has “a special space badge” to give the kid. Since this is a “surprise” letter, that means Professor Moon is doing something that is out of standard operating procedure for the teachers in that school by inviting young kids to meet him in private… and that’s not creepy at all, oh no. Archie then proceeds to hop on a spaceship with his robot buddy, only to be forced by the bully Sydney to crash onto the planet instead. Yes, the bully is trying to kill Archie as well as some of Archie’s friends that are also invited to Professor Moon’s kiddy party, but still, I’m sure there’s nothing creepy or disturbing about this. Archie lands in a dangerous part of the planet – yes, Professor Moon is asking those kids to come alone to a planet that has its share of menacing monsters and beasts – and it is up to you to help him and his friends make it to Professor Moon’s orgy in one piece.
This one is pretty standard, and many of the puzzles are actually on the not-so-interesting side. Those that could have been interesting, such as studying a spread to figure out a way to get rid of Sydney, have the hints so obviously placed prominently (there is a “TELEPORTER” sign above Sydney’s head in the puzzle I mentioned earlier) that they may as well just put the answer in a corner of the page. Maybe this one is meant for very young kids or kids who are easily impressed with minor achievements?
There are better Puzzle titles, and potentially creepy plot aside, Sticker Puzzle Planet is too forgettable for its own good.