Atherton Haight, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-9840678-8-6
Time Travel Dinosaur is easily the most well-crafted, confident, and hilarious entry in the Chooseomatic Books gamebook line so far. The packaging is gorgeous, and the few illustrations within are so adorable – cute, but not too cute to the point of being nauseating. A lot of love and style goes into the making of this baby, and it is only appropriate that the whole thing is just as fun to play as it is to look at.
You are an underpaid employee – eleven bucks an hour – of the Time Travel Investigation Agency. What you do is to travel back and forth in time – the Bakula Principle (Quantum Leap, if you don’t get the reference) ensuring that you leap into some fellow’s body at a certain time instead of sending your actual body across time – and observe things to make sure that there is no hanky-panky being played out by other time travelers. This is nowhere as interesting as it seems on paper, as it is well known fact that you cannot change time. Time has a way of adjusting things to ensure that time travelers can’t meddle. Therefore, your job is as fun as watching paint dry – a lot of it involves observation and routine paperwork.
At least, until your target, a scientist raving about having invented a device that would allow him to “conquer” reality, is killed by what seems like the scientist himself from another timeline. Oops. What you do next will form the basis of the adventure. Or rather, a montage of hilarious scenes, most of which playfully skewers popular time travel tropes with glee.
Of course, you can get to become a dinosaur, as the title of the campaign states, but you can also take part in revolutions, mess with goblins and plant monsters, take a spaceship to fight with dinosaurs, and more. Everything is just cracked and hilarious, as it should be, and there is a whole lot of fun to be had. This campaign can’t be taken seriously, naturally, but there is plenty of method to the madness here. And best of all, instead of being made to feel like an idiot, your character indulges in the tomfoolery with everyone laughing with you, not at you.
At any rate, Time Travel Dinosaur is a pretty fun way to pass the time, especially for folks who wish to graduate from Choose Your Own Adventure gamebooks into something more wacky. Matt Youngmark seems to have come into his own with this one, and it would be interesting to see which page he’d turn to from this point.