Scooby Doo Unmasked – XB – Review

If there’s one capable yet
cowardly dog that’s able to help solve a mystery it’s Scooby-Doo.  Having been a
classic cartoon series that inspired two live action movies and a series of
games, it’s no surprise to find him and his gang of friends back in action with
Scooby-Doo! Unmasked.  This time it’s Scooby that gets star billing as he
sets out to solve another mystery that’s sure to earn him plenty of Scooby
Snacks.  Scooby-Doo, where are you?  Back on the Xbox once again.


The story told here is
true to the classic cartoons the older crowd has been watching and enjoying with
the much younger crowd thanks to cable television.  It seems that Fred’s cousin
Jed, who works in a monster-making studio that designs monsters for feature
films, has gone missing and it’s up to Mystery Inc. to solve the case.  With the
usual number of shady suspects that crop up and various clues scattered
throughout the various chapters, it’s up to Scooby to actually do the footwork. 
Aided by Fred, Velma, Daphne and his slacker owner/pal Shaggy, Scooby searches
throughout the various areas.  Top that off with the usual monsters that come
out to scare the living daylights out of him and you have a story gamers of all
ages can really dive into and enjoy.



is a platform game with all the usual bells and whistles of your average
platform game.  Scooby can jump or double jump his way throughout the
environment freely.  There’s plenty of room to explore and there are no shortage
of breakable items that reveal a tasty Scooby Snack (that award you with one
life medal for every 100 you find) or trap pieces (used to unlock monster
profiles).  There are other collectible items to find like pieces of a
rubber-like substance called Mubber that can be turned into food items.  Seeing
as Scooby has a healthy appetite, he can take the food items to Shaggy so he
could whip up a tasty treat using his Porta-Kitchen and any ingredient you just
happen to have in your inventory.  The result may not sound appetizing but they
add up to an extra life or more life medals.  How Scooby could eat a sandwich
made with chili peppers, ice cream and cabbage is beyond me but, hey, dogs will
eat anything.


Yet like the cartoon, the
heart of any Scooby mystery is in finding clues used to help solve the mystery
in question.  Finding them is a question of completing simple puzzles such as
finding a switch that will activate a series of platforms leading to the clue or
pushing a button that reveals a trampoline.  When you do find a clue you’ll have
to take it to Velma who is good at piecing together each clue or can make sense
of its significance to the case.  You’ll find that the gang is always near and
Scooby can interact with them throughout the game.  Still it’s all up to
resourceful Scooby who will go through each environment jumping on platform to
platform, scaling ladders or sliding down a rope Sam Fisher-style to the other



While the majority of the
game is simply platform jumping, there are also enemies Scooby will face. 
Luckily this dog has a mean spin attack and even a sliding attack.  The neatest
feature, though, is the fact that Scooby can use a machine that can transform
Mubber into three different costumes he could wear.  Each costume actually
grants the pooch three different abilities.  For example, putting on the kung fu
costume gives Scooby the ability to perform kung fu moves.  The Robin Hood
costume, the most hilarious costume of the bunch, gives Scooby a useful bow to
shoot toilet plungers at enemies or objects.  Finally, the bat costume allows
Scooby to glide for a limited distance.  The costumes add more variety to the
gameplay mechanics seeing as these abilities will come useful in various ways
throughout the game.


Sadly Unmasked
doesn’t give us much of a variety in the gameplay department and thus feels like
the platform games before the PS2 introduced Jak or Ratchet.  The level designs
are good and the room for exploration instead of being guided to a specific
point is an excellent touch.  There are levels that Scooby doing other things
besides simply jumping from platform to platform.  For example, Scooby gets to
pilot a biplane in one area later on in the game.  Had there been more moments
like that, this would have been a great platform game with something different
to offer. Here’s another flaw that holds this game back considerably.  The
camera is awful to the point that it gets in the way of the action and sometimes
leads to getting hurt by an enemy you didn’t see or by missing a platform
(thankfully Scooby can catch the ledge). 


Visually, the game isn’t
as good as it could have been.  In fact, the game seems to share many things
with the PS2 version including jaggies and not-so crisp cut scenes.  The
characters are not quite cel-shaded and look straight out of the cartoons and
Scooby himself looks great in action as he runs, jumps and puts on his
costumes.  The environments are decent enough, particularly the Chinatown level.



As for the sound the score
is so unlike the cartoon but yet it works well with the game.  Yes you’ll hear
Scooby-Doo’s theme song in the opening of the game but the music played
throughout the game is still good.  As for the voice actors, many of them,
particularly Mindy Cohn as Velma, do a great job of bringing each familiar
character to life.  Adam West has a role as Winslow Stanton does a great job as
well.  As for the sound effects, they’re cartoon-like and work fine enough.


Scooby-Doo! Unmasked
is a decent attempt at bringing fans
a really enjoyable game featuring Scooby.  It does not fail to capture the
essence of the cartoon and there are even moments in the game that gamers young
and older will enjoy.  Unfortunately it also has its share of problems, making
this a so-so platform game that could have been a fan favorite.  I have a
feeling, though, that THQ will get it right the next time and bring us a game
worthy of many a Scooby Snack.



Review Scoring
Details for Scooby-Doo! Unmasked


Gameplay: 6.9
The awful camera and lack of
diversity within each level is where the game really falls flat here.  It’s so
bad that it gets in the way of the action and thus ruins the best platform bits
in the game.  I love the fact that you get to control Scooby throughout the game
and it works out well throughout the whole experience.


Graphics: 6.5
The graphics seem to be similar to
the PS2 version and that’s not a good thing seeing as the Xbox is perfectly
capable of sharpening the murky cut scenes and flat backgrounds.  It’s really a
shame since the characters look good in action and there are some neat little
effects thrown into the mix.


Sound: 7.0
The Scooby Gang sounds like you
expect them to sound and Scooby says all the right things throughout the game
without getting annoying.  There’s a nice cast of characters that are voiced
well enough (Adam West being among the best).  The game’s score is the only
thing that’s out of place here but that doesn’t mean it’s not any good.


Difficulty: Medium
Whether Scooby is smacking away rats
or trying not to drop from a platform, the most brutal enemy you’ll face in this
game is the camera and the controls.  The puzzles are easy to solve and there
are only a few moments in the game where you’ll really wonder where to go next.


Concept: 6.0
It’s all Scooby and it’s fun
watching him put on different costumes that give him different abilities (Scooby
as Robin Hood is a riot).  The story is true to the old cartoon as well as the
new ones but there’s very little to come back to when you’re finished.  You can
unlock some concept art but that’s it in terms of bonus material.


Overall: 6.5
Falling short in a number of things
that could have very well made this one a really great platform game, Scooby-Doo!
is still the best Scooby game released thus far.  It’s storytelling
and style are straight from the cartoon and that’s a good thing but the platform
elements have been done so much better than this.  Here’s hoping the next one
will be the one fans of everyone’s favorite pooch have been waiting for.