Full Review: Tonight, the pressing question is: Was Shaggy a pothead?
It can be said that 2002 is the year of the platformer. Not only is PlayStation 2 loaded with games like Sly Cooper & Ratchet and Clank, but also Xbox has Blinx and Nintendo has Mario, making this year a big one for fans of the platform game. Besides the big name titles on the way, a few other platform games have been released, including this one: Scooby Doo. Based on the famous cartoon (and not the current movie), Scooby Doo: Night of 100 Frights (no idea where the 100 Frights thing comes in) faithfully recreates the cartoon in every fashion. It's a little easy for experienced gamers (but naturally the game is intended for kids), and not extremely lengthy, but fans of Scooby will certainly enjoy the atmosphere and send them on a nostalgia trip to their youths.
Night of 100 Frights stars the entire Scooby gang, as well as the famous Mystery Machine. One of Daphne's friends gets in touch with her to let her know that a professor (Alexander Graham?hmmm, not quite an original name) has been kidnapped by a guy called The Mastermind (who also will unleash all the monsters from Scooby's past). Of course, the house he works in is haunted and nobody will go near the place, but the troupe decide to investigate, because we know they love to go through haunted places. Of course Shaggy and Scooby wuss out and the other 3 go ahead. Shaggy eventually turns up missing himself, and it's up to you, Scooby Doo, to find his friends and rescue the professor.
Scooby has 12 different levels to go through. However they aren't the usual linear progression ? instead you have multiple paths at the outset, but some areas are blocked until you acquire the special move required to progress. Thankfully there's warp portals all around the game, letting you pick and choose where you'd like to go next. Normally warp portals are located in the vicinity of save points, so they're placed in a decent fashion. The levels themselves are varied, from the actual haunted mansion, to a graveyard and docks, which lead to the cannery. The 12 levels are split into parts, so when and if you die, you pick up at the beginning of the part you happen to be on. Thankfully the sub-areas aren't too huge, so being able to recover after dying isn't a big deal, especially since this is a platform game and loaded with patterns.
Back to the save points (which are floating mini-Mystery Machines) ? each one is located at the beginning of each actual level, and are always in place at an opportune moment. Before each boss, you get a chance to save ? as you'd expect. There's plenty of save points so you don't get tied up in the game for hours if you don't want to.
As Scooby, your moves are limited at first ? you can jump and run and do a headbutt move, but that's about it. Early on the more imposing monsters are best avoided, instead of fought. Eventually though you find new moves to enhance Scooby's sklls ? a double jump and slippers for sneaking past baddies, to name a few. In parts, you reunite with Shaggy (who's just running around the mansion screaming and begging for help), and you take control of him for a short time ? usually just to throw Scooby up in the air and reach a higher point that the pooch can't. It's tied up with really solid control, which not only will help the kids enjoy the game more, but not frustrate other gamers looking to enjoy the game.
As you'd expect from a game based on the cartoon, Scooby is loaded with the characters and quirks that made the cartoon so popular. Scooby comes across old enemies like the Creeper, the Black Knight, the Werewolf, and the Zombie, along with a lot more. Many of the enemies are in huge numbers, so get used to hearing and seeing the same enemies (though there are 20 or so enemies) again and again. There are some boss battles, and they usually require using the environment of the area to beat them, which is always a nice touch.
Also, the silly humor found in the cartoon is present here ? complete with the amusing laugh track from the show. This has to be the first PS2 game with a laugh track ? and you hear it quite a bit. Every time Scooby does something somewhat silly (like putting a lampshade over his head, or saying something amusing), the track kicks in. It's like actually playing the cartoon. And it never gets annoying at all.
In order to progress, Scooby has to do 2 things ? keep his health high and collect as many Scooby Snacks as he can. The process works very much like Crash Bandicoot or Jak & Daxter; 1 little Scooby Snack is worth 1, and a big box is worth 5. Collecting the Snacks unlocks doors that are ?snack locked?, so collect as many as you can. Usually you have plenty, but be sure. In order to keep Scooby's health up, he has to eat. Food can be found hanging in the air, as well as given by enemies that you dispose of. Scooby has 5 dog tags that represent his health ? eating regains any tags lost. There is unlimited lives though ? so no matter how many times you run out of tags, you can keep playing.
The game is not flawless though ? for one, the game is rather easy. Going around and collecting Scooby Snacks is about as complex as it gets. The enemies aren't too bright and can be easily disposed, and the surplus of food and unlimited lives equal a game you can easily beat in a couple days if you stick with it. Of course, Scooby is meant for the kiddies, so it probably will be more challenging to them. The other intended audience, Scooby fans, will most likely ignore this simply because of how well crafted the Scooby Doo world is here. But people who don't fall into either category will probably find the game to be overly simplistic and not worth the time. In other words ? this is a game for the fans.
When looking at the graphics, you must remember to not take them as super-duper next-generation graphics ? instead of realism, Scooby sets out to be an exact replica of the ?toon. And Night of 100 Frights does just that, right down to the fully recreated introduction that is exact right down to Scooby licking off the cotton candy(?) off his furry body at the very end.
In the game, the characters and environments are accurate to the last little detail ? even the old gadgets used in the show are present and are perfectly done. All the characters have moving faces when they talk, and there's no delay in speaking when the lips move. Developer Heavy Iron Studios must be big Scooby fans, because they managed to make the game look and feel like the cartoon, and make you feel like you're playing the cartoon.
The sound also is accurate to the TV show. In a surprise, almost all the old voices make their returns (and if there's anyone different, you can barely tell) and sound great. Scooby talks quite a bit, with the famous ?Rut oh!? when a baddie shows up, and even identifies the characters by name; sort of a lesson to Scooby Nooby's (newbies of course) The laugh track mentioned before is well-placed and adds to the silly cartoon feel. The music is the exact same themes, right down to the themes that play when you encounter particular characters. Really, the game carries a perfect representation of the cartoon, in both visual and audio facets.