Everyone loves Scooby Doo. Why wouldn’t you? A cowardly talking dog fuelled by food, wandering from place to place with a gang of questionably-aged teenagers in a van called the Mystery Machine solving spooky conundrums in which the culprit is always a man in a mask. The gang have been around now for over 40 years spanning several cartoon series, a number of animated and live-action movies and of course many video game adaptions. There have been a couple of stinkers over the years true, but coming across as one of the better titles is the 2002 game Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights. The game pitted Scooby in a lone mission to rescue his friends from a series of spooky locations while dealing with many classic villains from the original 1969 series.
The story essentially plays out like a traditional episode of the show, the whole gang romps up in the Mystery Machine to some spooky mansion where they’re told there are mysterious going-ons. Cue Shaggy and the gangs’ mysterious disappearance. Kidnapped by the mysterious Mastermind who’s also responsible for the disappearance of a famous inventor and is the orchestrator behind all of the spooky events surrounding the mansion. Now it’s up to the cowardly Scooby hyped up on Scooby snacks to rescue them, with the occasional help from Shaggy who drops in from time to time. The plot’s very reminiscent of the cartoons in that it likes to joke around; I mean it even includes the classic laugh track. If that’s not enough Scooby will also have to deal with vintage foes including Wolfman, Zombie and the Headless Spector while boss fights consist of The Black Knight and the Ghost of Redbeard.
The game is a third person platformer with a few action elements thrown into the mix. Initially Scooby can’t do a great deal other than run and jump so to gain access to certain areas he’ll need to gather up a series of zany inventions. A spring allows him to double jump, a helmet lets him charge down enemies and breakable objects and an umbrella hat lets him glide through the air. Each location has sections you’ll need to steer clear of until you’ve found a corresponding invention to grant you access or you’ve gathered up enough Scooby snacks. So you’ll find there’s a lot of backtracking through areas which adds a somewhat decent amount of replayability.
The central hub for the game is of course the haunted mansion but as stated earlier you’ll need to a series of inventions to progress. These are all found in the varied outer environments. There are 12 levels in total ranging from fishing villages, graveyards, secret labs and haunted mazes. While you initially start playing in a third person perspective the game keeps things fresh by switching it up with 2D platforming environments too. Levels are filled with the traditional puzzles you’d find in pretty much every game like platform jumping, slippery floors, rope swings and of course boss battles. The gameplay is overall very simplistic, it’s a well-made platformer but it’s all pretty standard stuff and there are no real challenges to be found. The controls all feel smooth and you can pick it up really quickly the only major gripe is the camera angles. The camera switches from fixed place to fixed place which helps to capture environments you’re traversing but in platforming heavy areas it switches just a little too much and simple jumps become hard to read.
The graphics may now be showing their age, with characters looking like they’re made of plasticine. That said though the gang has been perfectly captured in 3D and environments ooze that retro Scooby Doo vibe. The levels may be a tad under detailed but it captures the classic cartoon well so this can be forgiven in the long run. Classic moments from the show even extend to the 3D remake of the classic opening theme, something you can’t help but smile and sing along too. Then you have the finer touches like the canned laughter that plays after comical moments, for example running head first into walls.
You can make a game look as much like a Scooby Doo episode as you want but what really makes the show is the talented voice cast and this game doesn’t disappoint in that regard. All of the straight-to-video movie regulars including Frank Welker (Fred) and Scott Innes (Scooby and Shaggy) make their return but there are also some other interesting actors lending their voices to the other key players; these being Tim Curry as the Mastermind and Don Knotts as the Groundskeeper. The writing is nothing spectacular and it’s filled with lots of deadpan jokes but then that’s what made the cartoons so charming.
ScoobyDoo! Night of 100 Frights isn’t a fantastic platformer, it’s not one that you should rush out and play immediately. It’s just a mediocre title in the genre. However if you’re looking for the perfect Scooby Doo game then you won’t get any better. It perfectly captures the nostalgic 70’s cartoons, from the simplistic environment sets, to the classic spooky foes and highly talented voice actors. Definitely one for fans of the lovable canine Scooby Doo and really who isn’t?
This Retrospective Review was originally published on the site GamersFTW which unfortunately has now been taken down.