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The Planet of Terror

Series: Which Way? #2
Translated Into: El planeta del terror (Spanish)
Jagten på det forsvundne rumskib (Danish)
Il pianeta del terrore (Italian)
La Planète aux cent pièges (French)
Author: Burston, Patrick
Illustrator: Graham, Alastair
Release Dates: 1985 (original)
1996 (American edition)
ISBNs: 0744547156 / 9780744547153 (British edition)
1564028518 / 9781564028518 (American edition)
Length:47 pages
LC Cataloging in Publication Summary: While searching for a damaged space ship which crashed over the Planet of Terror, the reader chooses among various paths and thereby controls the course of the story.
Fireguard's Thoughts: It's kind of hard for me to take a definite stance on The Planet of Terror, since it was one of my first gamebooks and I'm a bit of a sucker for nostalgia. But on the other hand, I've read a lot more such literature since then and come to appreciate many things I wouldn't have when I was sneaking this out of my desk in second grade to see what challenge the next page would yield.

In The Planet of Terror, your spaceship has crashed on the Planet of Terror. Your task is to brave the planet's myriad dangers, from mutated animals coming out of pits of noxious liquids to finding a way out of a robot junkyard to find your ship, make repairs and go home. Like other books in this series, the different scenarios are kind of random, and the ones in this book seem even moreso because you're not exploring a fairly enclosed place like a castle or an island, but a whole planet. At one moment you could be on the Planet of Terror surrounded by mutant monsters, but the next open a door and suddenly be on a space station being attacked by a giant blob, or walk down a path and suddenly be turned into electricity and traveling through a bunch of microcircuit tunnels. And the one "correct" path feels random and arbitrary and there's no way to find it except by trial and error.

The Planet of Terror is a fun little book, with tons of creative alien encounters, but is not for someone who demands structure in a gamebook or likes actually challenging their wits to gain victory. Still, it can be a fun way to kill half an hour if your expectations aren't too high.

More reviews by Fireguard

Guillermo's Thoughts: (review based on the Spanish translation)

Your spaceship has been lost in a strange planet filled with alien creatures and many other dangers. Your only hope of returning to Earth lies in exploring the planet and finding it.

This is another series I enjoyed as a youngster. Since Fireguard has already summarized many aspects of the sci-fi plot, I won't bore you with a regurgitation of the details. The series as a whole has a striking visual presentation, and this book is no exception. It consists of two-page spreads, each with very little text but gorgeously illustrated in full colour. The reader must solve a puzzle in each section, the vast majority of puzzles being laughably easy (this is not always true of other books in the series). In this respect, the book is sort of a simpler version of the American Be an Interplanetary Spy series. Solutions for some of the puzzles are provided in the last page. There is also a rather pointless instruction at the beginning saying "you can only use your ray gun once"; the book does not account in any way for exhausting your gun.

There are no deaths and no real endings to speak of (except for the successful one). The book does include several points that are dead ends, in which the reader is simply instructed to solve a puzzle and then restart the adventure from the first page. If one considers these dead ends to be "endings", then the book has four failure endings and one successful ending. Only a single, completely arbitrary path through the book leads to success. Overall, I found the book fun and fast-paced.

At the time of this writing, gamebooks.org does not include any bibliographic information on the Spanish translations. I'm fairly certain that at least five titles were translated into this language. I've never seen any English originals. Though I have no reason to believe the interior content in the Spanish version differs significantly from the original, the Spanish cover is different from the English one presented here. It must be said the presentation of the Spanish version is top-notch: the book is hardcover and paper quality is very high.

These books will definitely remain on my shelf for nostalgia value. They also provide a great introduction to interactive literature for any young children at home.

More reviews by Guillermo

Users Who Own This Item: dave2002a, Fireguard, Gartax, katzcollection (Candlewick edition), knginatl (UK ’85, US '96, UK '03, UK '08), mlvoss, NEMO, plowboy, redpiper05, zat
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