Scooby Doo: Night of 100 Frights Review
"Scooby-Doo! Where are you?!" Anyone familiar with this '60s-'70s cartoon based on that ever-starving, easily startled canine sleuth should be instantly reminded of the wonderful cartoon, Scooby-Doo. Scooby, his "best buddy in the whole wide world" Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne make up the mystery-solving bunch known as Mystery Inc. Each week, they would go about searching for clues, deducing theories and interrogating suspects while Scooby and Shaggy would usually cower at the slightest noise, and through sheer dumb luck fumble the masked perpetrator's grand scheme. Those cartoons had plots that were rather cliché, yet the shows themselves were classic and charismatic at the same time. Scooby-Doo was such a wonderfully adorable and goofy character, and he's had almost every type of licensed merchandise you could think of from bed sheets to toy figures to lunch boxes, and he's finally seeing the big screen. Yet he's never really had a quality video game-until now. THQ brings Scooby-Doo to the PS2 just in time for the movie, and he must now solve a strange mystery at Mystic Manor, at the same time searching for his friends who have disappeared inside.
One look at the graphics in Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights will strongly suggest to you that THQ's attempt to mimic the cartoon is nearly spot-on. From close up, character models appear to be a little too blocky, but from further away they look just like the cartoon. You'll recognize several familiar monsters such as the Werewolf, the Headless Specter and the Black Knight, all faithfully recreated in this game. Level designs are superbly crafted, starting out simple at first and becoming more complex later on. When they become huge, open areas, you might want to stop, view the scenery and reminisce about the cartoon you used to love watching so much. The color schemes are not very bright or powerful-more along the lines of an assorted box of pastels-but they do fit the game extremely well, as it gives the title a wonderful cartoon look.
However, the most attractive feature to the graphics can most definitely be found in the animation. Every little maneuver Scooby does is absolutely fluid. You'll also notice that same quality when Scooby attacks a monster and it keels over. You'll also witness nice lighting effects in certain stages but you might be disappointed in the water effects, which seem lacking in animation, as well as the fireballs, which are a little pixilated.
Playing Scooby-Doo is like playing most any normal platform adventure. There are several items and power-ups scattered across the many different levels. You run around collecting Scooby Snacks so you can unlock Snack Gates that block off access to other areas in the level. These gates require a minimum number of Scooby Snacks in order to clear. Certain gates and paths are only accessed by acquiring power-ups such as the Galoshes, which allow you to cross sticky surfaces like tar, and the Lightening Bolt, which allows you to smash buttons that open up locked doors. Other doors require a certain number of keys to be found in order to open. You can uncover "buried treasure" with the Shovel power-up and blow bubbles with a bar of soap catching enemies inside. Getting the Football Helmet will grant you the ability to plow through spider webs and ram into enemies. All in all, there are more than 15 items and power-ups you can snatch up.
The levels themselves can get rather large at times revealing many secret areas that store a cache of Scooby Snacks, health items or even Monster Tokens. Monster Tokens will be the key to luring you back to this game time and time again so you can find them all. The Monster Tokens are collectable coins that activate profiles of the monsters you come across in the game. These are viewable once you unlock the Snack Gate that bars the entrance to the Monster Gallery. Each profile will also contain a Scooby-Doo trivia question, which is a nice incentive for you to always keep your eyes peeled for tokens. Also, the game comes with a rather mundane map that keeps track of your progress and shows you the different areas of the mansion. Keep an eye out for the area you're in, and you might find out that there's a passage to a secret pathway that you've missed.
"Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you? We got some work to do now. Scooby Dooby Doo, where are you? We need some help from you now." Sound familiar? What would a Scooby-Doo game be without the famous theme song? Let this be the prelude of what's to come for all things audio. The music is fitting to the tee in every possible application and the sound effects are ripped straight from the show. From Scooby munching on snacks, screeching to a stop when he's running, or thunking into a monster, you'll feel just like you're in the cartoon. You'll even hear the cheesy, recorded audience laugh whenever he does something funny. Laughter may even emit from you as you hear Scooby go "Rikes!" when he sees a monster and "Rummy!" when he gobbles down a sandwich. Frank Weller from the original cartoon returns to do the voice of Fred. Scooby and Shaggy are both done by Scott Innes, and Velma is done by B.J. Ward, who both provided said voices for Scooby-Doo movies Zombie's Island and Witch's Ghost. Daphne is voiced by Grey Delisle, who did the same voice in Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase movie. Special guest voices include legends Don Knotts, Tim Conway and Tim Curry, who voices the game's main villain, the Mastermind. Needless to say, the voice acting is no slouch and is the game's icing on the cake.
Controlling Scooby-Doo is no problem; it's the blasted camera that makes the control a chore. Night of 100 Frights has a fixed-perspective camera, which leaves a lot to be desired. About 50 percent of the time, it works and allows you enough viewing space to move around freely, but the other 50 percent makes it a pain to work with. For example, the camera will be right in front of you as you are running towards it. It won't pan away from you, allowing you to see what's in front of you, and this creates a severe blind spot that will lead to numerous cheap deaths since you can't see the pits or monsters until it's almost too late. Sometimes, a sudden shift in the camera angle will mess up your calculated jump and you'll fall helplessly to your doom. In fact, this will cause many more accidental suicides simply because some of the vantage points make it hard to judge the distances of the leaps. Therefore, it's a good thing that you never really die; you just start at the beginning of the section. It really is a saving grace because the sporadic frustration that this camera causes you would be increased ten fold had they made you start from the last save point. Alas, there is no way at all that you can have any control of the camera; it really is sad since that's the only glaring flaw of this otherwise fun game.
Do you love Scooby-Doo? If so, this is the game for you. It's got a lot of fun platforming elements such as minor puzzle solving scenarios, varied level challenges and tons of item searching and collecting. It's a beautifully crafted game that reflects the style of the cartoon better than any other previous attempt, but you will find that the camera seriously hampers the enjoyment at times. Are you not familiar with Scooby-Doo? If so, the game probably won't hold your interest long enough to justify a purchase and a rental is strongly recommended. Even though you may not want to add this title your collection, you will want to experience the superb animations for yourself because they are that good. "Scooby-Doo! Where are you?!" Now, you don't have to ask that question anymore; just turn on your PlayStation 2.
6/16/2002 Lucas Stephens