reviews\ Mar 29, 2004 at 7:00 pm

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem - PS2 - Review

Scooby Doo! Mystery Mayhem is the crime-solving canine’s second foray onto the PS2, following last year’s Scooby Doo! Night of 100 Frights. However, instead of treading the same old ground and making Mystery Mayhem a platformer like its predecessor, THQ have decided to go a different route, handing over the developing reins to A2M (Night of 100 Frights was developed by Heavy Iron Studios) and giving the game more of an adventure game/survival horror feel. However, the gameplay is shoddily simplistic in parts and overly frustrating in other areas. Those problems aside, Mystery Mayhem still earns points for being extremely faithful to the beloved characters and capturing the overall feeling of the TV show.

Scooby Doo! Mystery Mayhem gives you control of both Shaggy and Scooby as you go through six episodes of the TV show, solving the crimes and catching the crooks responsible. Switching between Shaggy and Scooby is for the most part unnecessary, as only in certain parts would you need Scooby to crawl through a narrow opening or Shaggy to rescue Scooby from a certain situation.

The first half of the first mission has you simply avoiding ghosts, which can be achieved by putting on disguises. After a while, you find the Tome of Doom, a book that allows you to capture ghosts. This changes the dynamics of the game, requiring you to capture ghosts (much like in Luigi’s Mansion) before you can progress to new areas. In order to catch ghosts, you have to open the Tome of Doom and tap whatever button appears on the screen rapidly until the book sucks up the ghost. However, ghosts do tend to break free of the Tome for no apparent reason, which not only drains your book charge, but will also sap some of your life. This can be frustrating, especially when you are down on both health and Tome power. Also, the game grows terribly repetitive and simplistic after too long. Most of the missions are spent looking for keys and collecting power-ups and catching ghosts with the overly cumbersome Tome of Doom.

The graphics are good, but not great. The simplistic character models are made up of few polygons and do a fine job of retaining the cartoony feel of the TV show. The fully 3D camera does a fine job of capturing the action, although it can get hung up on walls occasionally. The environments are well rendered, even though they are fully 3D, and the game does feature some pretty impressive lighting effects. However, the animations can be pretty robotic at parts and the PS2 version falls prey to some aliasing and the framerate drops when the action grows intense.

The sound effects are quite good. The voice acting is great and the laugh track (present in last year’s Night of 100 Frights) does a great job of keeping with the atmosphere of the game, as do the sound effects and music. All in all, the very solid sound presentation sticks very close to the TV show.

Mystery Mayhem scores points for being a complete departure from its predecessor, providing adventure gameplay with a survival/horror feel instead of run-of-the-mill platforming. However, the cumbersome controls and repetitive, simple gameplay keep the game from being very compelling or much fun.

Review Scoring Details  for Scooby Doo! Mystery Mayhem

Gameplay: 6.0
The gameplay is very simplistic and dumbed-down, requiring you to do little more than collect keys and power-ups and catch ghosts. The ghost catching can be very frustrating and grows repetitive very quickly.

Graphics: 7.5
The graphics are good, but not great. The simple character models work well for the game, keeping with the cartoon. The environments are nice and detailed and the game features some nice lighting effects. However, there are some aliasing jaggies in the PS2 version and the framerate does buckle at parts when the onscreen activity gets a little heavy.

Sound: 8.0
The sound effects are good and keep with the overall mood of the game. The voice acting is well done, the laugh track is a nice touch and the music sounds great and could’ve been lifted straight from the show.

Difficulty: Medium
Overly simplistic gameplay is offset by frustrating controls and ghost catching.

Concept: 7.0
The game is extremely faithful to the franchise, and feels like the show. Unfortunately, the gameplay is pretty derivative and terribly simple.

Overall: 6.5
Mystery Mayhem does a fine job of capturing the feeling and atmosphere of the beloved TV series, but the overly simplistic gameplay is where the game falls short.

Above Average

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