Oh yes, I definitely remember those hint books. The ones I'd see were usually for Interactive Fiction games (Such as the ones from Infocom.) They'd often have other publishers' games included. As I recall, they'd usually have maps, and also numbers over the rooms; looking at the numbers, it would tell you what you needed to do there.
Infocom would usually publish their own clue books; those would come with a special marker, which would "Uncover" the clues when you'd pass it over the answer area, like a hi-liter. One thing I got a bang out of was Infocom would often include fake problems, and if you uncovered the answer, it would chide you for not uncovering the answers that you needed -- often in a humorous way. (Sometimes they'd even have two or three fake answers to go with the question!) I remember seeing them in book stores, alongside the Infocom games. But then, these were Interactive Fiction, so I guess it could be argued that they were computer versions of those "Pick Your Adventure" style books.
Adventure International had clue books which had numbered words for the various games. You'd locate the problem that you were having, and it would have a list of numbers in response. You'd then match the numbers to the associated words to form the answer. As I recall, they were more or less straight and to the point, with no red herrings or humor like Infocom used. Though, for one of their later games, there was a part in the instruction booklet for the game which had a spoiler about one area, which they'd written with the words spelled backwards, for those who didn't want to see the spoiler.
Two good things about Interactive Fiction -- it improved my vocabulary (I'd learned early on to keep a dictionary handy whenever I'd play such games) AND it helped teach me to type.