Before diving into the games, I feel it important to mention that the two live-action Scooby-Doo films are near-perfect and that I will not accept any counterarguments or dissenting opinions in this area. Thank you.
That being said, if this FACT makes you concerned that I’m a huge Scooby-Doo fan and that all of these games will be graded on an absurd curve, then don’t worry because aside from a weekend with Scooby-Doo Unmasked when I was 7, I have no latent love towards any of these games. Now, let’s start.
Another damn manor
Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights
Now, the story for all of these is basically the same, as every episode of the show was basically the same: you go to a creepy manor, the gang is split up, and Scooby and/or Shaggy have to wander around in search of the perpetrator.
Night of 100 Frights begins with this wonderful homage to the original show, replete with the laugh track, the classic theme, and the Hanna-Barbera sound effects. All of this charm carries over in to the actual game as well. And while the idea of the actual gameplay having a laugh track may seem absolutely horrid, it works surprisingly well.
The game is a 3-D platforming collectathon/Metroidvania mashup that sees you collecting Scooby snacks in order to access new areas and then scouring the levels for new abilities which allow you to get more out of the areas you’ve already unlocked.
The game is split into 12 levels, though if you were able to get any sense of that from the map, I would be astounded, as the map is legitimately incomprehensible. Thankfully, the game’s levels are typically so linear that this never really matters (I say despite ACTUALLY getting lost in a children’s Scooby-Doo game at one point).
This game has a fixed camera. This may seem counterintuitive for this kind of game, but it honestly helps a great deal with making the experience more memorable. The fixed angles give you a great sense of direction (despite my getting lost which I will never live down) and also frames the action in such a way that it always feels as though you’re playing through a TV movie of the original show. Something which is surely exactly what you want out of this kind of experience.
The game takes around 4 hours to beat, but that’s pretty typical for the time, and the pacing is so good that I very contentedly ran through it in one sitting.
- Impeccable Atmosphere
- Engaging and fast-paced collectathon formula
- Home of the only not-awful laugh track
- Incomprehensible map
- Short, and virtually no replayability
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem
Here, we have to investigate a spooky… alright, you get it. As for the cutscenes, they still have the laugh track, but their composition is more like modern Scooby-Doo, with more varied camera angles and more expressive models (though the models appear oddly static in cutscenes, as if unaffected by any light source).
As opposed to just Scooby with the occasional Shaggy appearance, you now control both of them as they tip-toe around each of the 5 (yes, there are only 5) levels in search of clues to return to Velma.
The controls here are immediately off-putting. The turning circle is so wide and imprecise that it can feel like you’re merely influencing where the characters move instead of just controlling them. If you noticed, I didn’t even mention controls in the last review; that’s because controls are like a music beat, you only really notice it when it sucks.
Unlike the last game, this isn’t a platformer. There’s no jump button at all. The extent of your interaction with the environment comes from pressing the contextual prompts to scale small objects. Also, instead of traditional combat, the game seems to be an imitation of Luigi’s Mansion. You get a tome which you can then use to hoover up ghosts and ghouls. This is foreshadowed early on by an admittedly charming Ghostbusters reference in the opening cutscene, but it’s still a fairly blatant rip-off.
This makes it so that after the initial Scooby-Doo charm wears off, you are just playing a Luigi’s Mansion rip-off which is even shorter and has less environmental variety.
In Night of 100 Frights, the pacing was held together by the fact that there was always some new ability just around the corner, but in this game, once you get the tome, the sense of progression grinds to a halt and you just have to play the next two and a half hours of the game. And you will really feel those two and a half hours (keeping mind that the game only takes about 3 hours to beat).
They try to keep gameplay variety up with the fact that there are a few vehicle and stealth sections, but it really does just feel like propping up a dead formula by throwing as much at the wall as they can manage.
- Charming opening cutscene
- Decent gameplay variety
- The awful controls
- The tedious/ repetitive clue hunting
- No replayability coupled with the 3 hour length
Thankfully, there seems to have been a second dev who was hopefully responsible for fixing everything the other guys did wrong.
This goes back to the Night of 100 Frights formula of being a 3-D platforming collectathon. Scooby has all of the abilities you would expect from such a protagonist: he can dash, jump, roll, spin, and slide.
This game has four unlockable costumes, and if there was ever a beginning to my obsession with in-game cosmetics, that’d be it. These costumes are unlocked by collecting the clues throughout each of the levels, and each costume gives you new gameplay options. The bat costume lets you glide around to reach one of the otherwise inaccessible areas/ collectibles, both kung-fu costumes allow you to access a full movelist of attacks (and one of these costumes even has an energy projectile), and finally, the Robin Hood outfit lets you shoot arrows. This also probably explains my obsession with bows and arrows in games.
The game is split into several hub areas and then several levels within those hubs. This is the most varied Scooby-Doo game in terms of locations. Each area is littered with Scooby snacks. 100 of these can be collected to heal a point of health; however, if you already have full health, then that heal will kept in reserve and will be used automatically whenever you next take damage.
As well as Scooby snacks, each level is littered with food that can be given to Shaggy so that he can cook you meals to increase your max health, as well as a new collectible called Mubber. This is an oddly named currency which can mainly be found by breaking objects.
Despite the insane amount of options and collectibles the game seems to throw at you, this is still a 2005 children’s game based on Scooby-Doo, so their ambition is somewhat limited by the fact that this game has to be completable by infants. While each area acts as a hub that splinters off into different levels, those levels themselves are very easy and somewhat uninspired in terms of gameplay.
Oddly, this game takes about the same amount of time to beat as Night of 100 Frights, but the game throws so many collectibles and abilities at you that it feels much shorter. It feels like they had too many gameplay ideas for a game that was too simple.
For example, when I was replaying this game, I played through the tutorial level in about 5-10 minutes. I had collected everything there was to get and by the time I got to the end of the level, a results screen appeared and told me that I was already 6% done with the game. That seems like a huge leap in progress for what felt like almost nothing.
As much as it pains me to say this, this game has a lot of great concepts and is full of the typically charming cutscenes and references, but there’s just not enough game on which to spread all of these cool ideas.
- Typical Scooby-Doo charm
- Packed with ambitious ideas
- Gameplay which falls short of those ambitious ideas