Scooby-Doo - A cute game for the kids

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

If you don't know who Scooby-Doo is, ask your kids. Or check the marquee at your local theater.

The cartoon chow hound with a lust for Scooby Snacks and a knack for getting in and out of trouble is now the star of a hugely popular movie. THQ and developer Heavy Iron Studios are hoping for the same success for a new PlayStation 2 title, "Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights."

In this epic tale of adventure and fine dining, Daphne, a member of the Mystery Inc. gang along with Scoob, Shaggy, Velma and Fred, is asked for help by an old friend, Holly.

Turns out Holly's family home is a haunted house, known as Mystic Manor. Holly's uncle, noted inventor Prof. Alexander Graham, lives in the house overlooking a fishing village.

Not much fishing is going on, though, because the area has been overrun by monsters. And the professor? Why, he's disappeared.

And so has the entire gang! Except for lovable Scoob, of course.

Thus starts our tale, in which Scooby-Doo has to search three areas -- Mystic Manor, Smuggler's Cove and the Haunted Grounds -- if he hopes to find his pals and solve the mystery of the monsters.

In classic platform style, Scooby-Doo has to collect Scooby Snacks and other items which aid him in his quest. Once he rescues the entire gang, they can enter the Super Secret Lab and meet the Mastermind, who will reveal the reasons behind his evil scheme.

The game won't go down as a classic, but it has its moments. The trouble is, they are rare. You spend a huge amount of time scarfing down Scooby Snacks, and there isn't a lot of novelty as far as game play is concerned.

But that won't really matter to the game's target audience, the zillions of kids who watch Scooby-Doo faithfully and can mimic his voice and cutesy catch phrases.

Ahhh, the voices -- one of the best parts of the game. Tim Curry plays the mastermind, with classic comics Don Knotts as the groundskeeper and Tim Conway as Professor Graham.

Give the graphics a C+. They're extremely simplistic, although they do display a nice use of color and shading. They look like the cartoons the game is based on. There's not much eye candy here for gamers used to more sophisticated fare. The monsters are tame by "Resident Evil" standards and aren't likely to spook the tots.

Control gets a B. Everything works pretty much as designed and it's not difficult for little gamers to make Scoob do what they want. The camera location could be better at times.

Sound gets an A. The voice acting is fantastic, with nostalgia built in by Knotts and Conway. Sound effects and music aren't anything special, but they don't intrude, either.

Give "Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights" a B. It won't be much of a challenge for more experienced gamers, but it's a perfect challenge for younger players, with no blood, no gore and no violence worth noting. Grab a box of Scooby Snacks and enjoy.

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