Chooseco, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-933390-11-6
Oh no, the oil in the world is vanishing! All the world leaders are concerned, but nobody knows what is happening! Naturally, the fate of the world lies in the hands of two kids – you and your brother Ned. The two of you solved a big mystery a while back, so now you are riding on the goodwill of the top agents in the world to poke your noses where they don’t belong. Your brother has ESP, which means he sometimes acts like he’s having a seizure and makes weird sounds before telling everyone that he has gained some mysterious insight. That’s the only explanation given – Ned has ESP, so he knows. So just roll with the… whatever it is that RA Montgomery likes to have while he is coming up with his masterpieces for the Choose Your Own Adventure books.
You may notice that this review of Trouble on Planet Earth labels this gamebook as “sci-fi”. That is because it is picked at random, as this gamebook can be a mundane adventure romp, a tango with aliens, or something else depending on your choices. “Choices” is actually an inaccurate word to use here, as often you will be flipping pages and realizing that your choices don’t really make any difference most of the time. If Mr Montgomery wants you to die – and he does, often too – you will die whether you pick option one or two.
Worse, the entire campaign is as dull as can be. The characters are all unimaginative stereotypes, and, worse, things are riddled with inconsistencies here. For example, you are told that Ned is always right, but if you follow his suggestions, you are then told that he is always wrong, right before the sucky ending smacks you in the face. Things can take the turn for the absurd, such as sneaking into paintings and discovering a plot to steal oil from the past to be used in the present. Try to imagine how that works, go on. Predictably enough, Mr Montgomery can’t resist going all PETA on everyone, nagging you about how we are all using too much oil, destroying the world – the usual.
With no strong canon or background detail, no memorable story elements, no coherence or consistency, Trouble on Planet Earth is dire without any camp element that could have still provided some entertainment value.