reviews\ Jun 10, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Scooby Doo! Night of 100 Frights - PS2 - Review

With the new live action Scooby Doo movie getting ready to hit theaters, I have seen Scooby Doo stuff EVERYWHERE lately. Fruit snacks, chips, dog treats, t–shirts … all based around the new film. Now, don’t get me wrong. That’s not a bad thing. However, us older fuddy duddies tend to revolve around what we grew up on, which of course was the original cartoon which came on during the Saturday morning lineup of Smurfs, Thundercats, and a handful of others which make kids today go “huh?” when we bring them up. Well, THQ has sent a Scooby Doo title out which caters to us older folks out here and revolves around the original Scooby Doo cartoon. Original characters, original songs, and some original special guests make an interesting and humorous PS2 title that is fun for not only us grown up people out there but for kids as well, despite a couple of issues which could not be overlooked. 


The game revolves around everyone’s favorite four legged crime fighter / detective / scaredy cat and his pals Shaggy, Velma, Daphnie, and Fred … once again on the way to solve another mystery. This one involves one of Daphnie’s friends and the disappearance of her genius inventor father, Professor Alexander Graham, who happens to live in the mansion which appears in the very beginning of the Scooby Doo theme song on the old cartoons. The gang decides to follow her into the mansion, while Shaggy and Scooby decide to do what they do best … which is stay by the Mystery Machine to avoid getting into conflicts with spooks or monsters. Well, Scooby and Shaggy’s stomachs of course start telling them what to do, and they decide to go looking for a box of Scooby Snacks to tide them over. Shaggy finds one stuck in a tree branch and begins pulling on it to get it unstuck, which opens a trap door in the grass. He plummets into the hole … and Scooby is left all alone outside in front of the spooky mansion. He soon discovers that all of his friends, and Daphnie’s friend as well, have now disappeared … and this is where you take over to help Scooby find out what happened to his pals, the inventor, and solve the mystery of the mysterious mansion.


The game basically operates as a 2–D side scrolling platformer style with full 3–D graphics and 3–D roaming environments thrown in here and there. Scooby can run, jump, slide, and swing his way through not only the mansion, but some outlying areas like a hedge maze and some haunted docks as well to search for his lost pals. Of course, nothing is easy, and Scooby will have to pull off a various assortment of sneaking, running, or jumping moves to knock out or avoid classic monsters from the old episodes like the Ghost of Geronimo, the Scarecrow, or the Creeper. Along the way, Scooby will pick up a large assortment of Scooby Snacks which are used for two reasons … the first one is to unlock new areas of the mansion or outside environments which require a certain amount to be collected prior to letting you enter. The second is to unlock pictures in the “Monster Gallery” as an added bonus. I’ll talk more about the “Monster Gallery” in a moment. Anyway, Scoob will also pick up some other items in his exploring as well, like a various assortment of “inventions” created by Professor Graham. These range from springs to help you jump higher, a lampshade or some bunny slippers to hide or sneak by monsters, or even a football helmet which can be used to smash through weak areas or knock monsters unconscious.  Another item to be collected along the way are “monster tokens”, which picture one of the original Scooby Doo monsters that the gang had to catch. These are also used in the Monster Gallery to unlock a full 3–D image of the villain, as well as which episode it appeared in and even a tidbit of Scooby trivia. Ever wonder which city Scooby Dum was from? Ever wonder which two characters left the show in later episodes? Well, find the coins for the Gargoyle and the Headless Specter and you will find out. The map of the mansion and the surrounding area is big, but is broken out into sections which operate as their own small levels and make maneuvering a little easier, and most areas … once they are cleared … can be easily accessed again by use of a warp gate. This comes in really handy since one particular area may call for you to use the football helmet, but you may not have acquired it yet.  So you go to a new area, get the football helmet, then warp back to the beginning of the stage to get into the area you couldn’t access before.


Overall, the platform style of Scooby Doo works well and makes for a fun and entertaining title. They do a good job of trying to mix up some areas and levels to throw some variation into the gameplay. For example, one level will have you tediously jumping on teetering platforms about a foot wide over a bottomless pit. The next level may have you hopping on the back of an out of control lawnmower driven by Shaggy and jumping over thorn patches or fire breathing garden statues. In addition, each level has it’s own distinct look … even inside the mansion … which sets it apart from the other areas you have visited. This all makes a fun and non - repetitive game, but unfortunately … there are some control issues which keep it from really hitting a top spot overall. Of course, as in any 3- D game, the camera plays one of the most important roles in the overall fun factor. The camera for Scooby Doo is not always bad, but it does tend to get a little annoying and cause some headaches from time to time. The camera view is stationary and cannot be moved around to give it a more comfortable feel. This can cause some major problems in certain spots, such as being in a side scrolling section of the game which calls for you to jump and swing across a series of 4 hanging lanterns … all of which are varying degrees of distance away from the wall behind them. Basically, you can’t just push the controller to the left, or you will plummet into a pit or off the roof and have to start over. The more annoying piece of it comes into play when you have to keep trying to judge the distance from the side and either over or under compensate for the jump and keep having to “re-do” 5 or 6 times. It also can become a hassle in the full roaming 3–D sections as well, since you may be running to make a jump across a pit or obstacle only to have the camera change at the last minute which makes Scooby lean the wrong way into the jump. If you are moving him right, and the screen rotates left 45 degrees, you need to go up at that point … but you have already committed to the jump and you sail to the right and wind up losing a life. In addition, it may cause you to miss something you need, like a pull cord to open a bookshelf or other various item which helps you progress. On a brighter note, you have unlimited tries and start back at the door of the room, so you don’t have too far to go in most cases. Still, it can go from a fun game to an annoying situation really fast when those things happen.


Graphically, the game looks more like a beefed up PS1 title rather than a PS2 title. It’s not terrible or pixellated, and it is a very colorful game overall, but most objects and environmental décor consist of 1 or 2 colors which gives them a kind of flat or unfinished look. The FMV scenes look somewhat boxy, and the character’s mouths just sort of randomly drop open and shut while they are talking which looks like somewhat of a badly overdubbed foreign movie. There are some nice touches which have been done to some areas, like blowing leaves, really nice fog and smoke effects, and cobwebbed corners covered in dust. In addition, there are some areas which will utilize an urn or a cabinet which blends perfectly with the surroundings to have a monster jump out and scare you when you least expect it to happen. Another nice thing which the game does is to make walls and objects transparent at the right moment when you need them to be. For example, right before you turn the corner in a hedged in area which would block your sight, it's gone. So you never have to worry about getting hit because you couldn’t see what was going on.


The real winner in this game is the sound and music. Everything that was done in the Scooby Doo cartoon has been done in this game. The character voices are done by the original cast and crew, and there are areas where special guests loan their voices to the game as well, like Don Knotts,  The background music consists of the same background music they used in the cartoon to set the tone or atmosphere while the gang was walking around or getting chased by a monster, and is utilized in the majority of areas to set the tone for what’s going on. It will seem a little out of place here and there, but I of course was really trying to nitpick and was purposely listening for it. Realistically, it’s not that noticeable nor will it detract from anything. In addition, the sound effects consist of the pitter – pattering sound of Scooby’s feet when he runs (Similar to the sound Fred Flintstone’s feet make when he’s running in his car), screeching tire sounds when he stops, and the overemphasized springy banging noise when he comes to a sudden halt and hits his head. They also included a canned laugh track into the game as well, so when Scooby does something a little off like throw Shaggy up to catch a tire swing or slide across a wet floor and into a monster’s legs, you hear the simulated “studio audience” laugh in approval.


Overall, the good outweighs the bad in this game. With a decent sized area to run around in, a challenging and fun (but not overly difficult) gameplay setting, some interesting and fun unlockable tidbits, and some humorous moments which were taken directly from the original Scooby Doo episodes, any Scooby fan will enjoy this title even despite a few flaws. Any fan of platformers will probably find enjoyment in it as well, but if you are not much of a fan of either … I recommend renting this title prior to purchasing it. So, kick back with a box of Scooby Snacks, grab a flashlight, and have fun helping Scooby solve the mystery. Jinkies, maybe you will find the originator of the “bad 3–D game camera” somewhere in the mansion as well and solve that mystery for all of us once and for all!


Gameplay: 7.5
Despite some camera problems, Scooby is easy to maneuver and the controls work well. The environment is large but sectioned off to make it easy to see where you need to go back to or where you need to move forward to. The varying environments and gameplay within different sections also eliminates repetition. Again, the sometimes unfriendly camera can cause annoyance from time to time and cause multiple do overs in certain areas.  


Graphics: 7.6

While they aren’t terrible, they are somewhat blocky and don’t seem to consist of too many color schemes, and FMV scenes are blocky and look badly overdubbed. Lighting effects are non existent for the most part, but there are certain areas and effects which look really nice with fog or fire effects for example. In addition, the various areas in the mansion have their own unique feel and look to them, which helps to generate a feeling of variety.


Sound: 9.1
Well, all the original characters are back and loaned their voice talents to this one. The background music is all from the original cartoon and is used well to set the atmosphere most of the time. Sound effects are taken from the original show as well, and there is even a laugh track added in to simulate a studio audience. Definitely the high point.


Difficulty: Easy
Easy to pick up and start playing, and easy to follow where you have been and where you need to go. The game also has areas which will give you hints and tips to help you learn what you need to do, and Don Knotts will pop up periodically to give you some direction and where to go next. Kids and adults both will be able to get into this game with little to no problem.  


Concept: 8.9
Definitely a nice title for Scooby Doo fans out there. They duplicated the cartoon sounds and antics from the TV show accurately, and Scooby acts out some of his more memorable adventures throughout the game.


Multiplayer: N/A

Overall: 7.8
Now, don’t get me wrong. This game is extremely fun and entertaining, but a couple of points had to go due to some camera and graphics issues which couldn’t be overlooked. The overall controls are smooth and easy to maneuver, and you can tell that Renderware and THQ really put some time into making this a good, solid, fun game. I would definitely recommend you avid Gamezone readers out there to give this one a try before passing it up as another kids game or a no go, or else you may miss out on an enjoyable gaming opportunity.  


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