Reviewed: October 12, 2005
Released: September 12, 2005
Scooby-dooby-doo…where are you…we got some work to do now…
It’s been nearly three years since we had a chance to play with Scooby and the gang and now he’s back in an all-new platform adventure, Scooby-Doo! Unmasked.
Unmasked brings back all the classic characters from the original cartoon series along with several familiar villains thanks to the special effects studio, Monstrous Fright and Magic. The gang is all set to meet Fred’s cousin Jed but when they arrive at the special effects studio Jed is missing. Sniff…sniff…anyone smell a mystery brewin’?
The designers have managed to capture the very essence of the show by including the original opening song, classic character banter, and even a laugh track that gives you the illusion that you are playing an actual episode. The levels include plenty of creepy locations and are stocked with classic monsters that you are sure to recognize from the animated series.
In this ambitious new title the designers have mixed in traditional platform gameplay including jumping puzzles and object collection with new concepts like recipes and gadgets.
You can now collect ingredients and take them to Shaggy and his portable kitchen who will prepare food and earn you bonus medals. Likewise, you can collect various clues and take them to Velma for analysis. Once you collect enough clues you can try and solve the mystery.
There are plenty of collectible items scattered about the level including trails of Scooby Snacks that lead the way to your next objective as well as giving you bonus medals for every 100 you collect. Mubber is also another collectible that you can earn by defeating monsters. It comes in three colors and has several uses including food preparation and creating special costumes for Scooby.
There are three costumes Scooby can use including Kung Fu, Robin Hood, and the Bat costume. Each costume gives Scooby additional abilities like powerful attacks, gliding ability and ranged weapons attack.
Scooby plays like a typical platform game from the late 90’s. The control scheme is fairly intuitive, and you can make Scooby run, jump, spin, slide, and attack. The camera can get a bit crazy at times and you will constantly have to keep re-centering the view or learn to live with a very jumpy camera system.
There are a good selection of levels that range in size and complexity. You’ll get to explore various themes like a haunted theme park, haunted mansion and even a stylized version of China Town. The traditional platform gameplay is mixed up with some arcade-style levels like whitewater rafting (without the raft) and even some aerial action that puts Scooby in the cockpit of a biplane.
My only regret was that Scooby is the only real playable characters. Sure, you can interact with the entire team and everyone serves a valuable purpose in a non-playable way, but it would have been so much more varied if each character had their own level and gameplay challenges, or even better, having to use multiple characters together to solve puzzles.
The graphics in Scooby-Doo are a unique mix of classic animation background art with CGI characters and everything now has a stylized cel-shaded look about it. The game look just as good as anything you might see on TV, perhaps even a bit better. There are all sorts of subtle touches to the character design and animation.
The overall visual style does a great job of capturing the magic of the series while introducing some new-tech graphical flair. The characters and environments are well modeled and rich with color. Special effects are subtle like dust clouds; paw prints, particles, water, etc. There is nothing too flashy, and it all feels perfectly natural for the premise of the game.
If you are reading this review chances are you can already sing the theme song word for word. When the game’s opening movie started I was instantly taken back in time. The opening is perfectly recreated with the flying screeching bats coming out of the haunted house followed by the cheery theme song. There is also plenty of classic creepy Scooby music and eerie sound effects that accompany the entire game.
While Unmasked doesn’t see the return of the original cast members like the previous game, there are some noteworthy celebrities including Adam West (Batman, Family Guy) who lends his unique and humorous styling to the production. And the sound-alikes for the main characters are so dead-on that you won’t be able to tell the difference.
Perhaps one of the most interesting innovations is the inclusion of an actual laugh track. This totally creates the illusion of playing an actual episode, and thankfully, the designers have increased the quality of the laugh track and decreased the amount of its use, so it is now more of an accent than an annoyance.
Scooby is going to give kids around 10-12 hours of gameplay while adults will blaze through this title in 6-8 hours. There are lots of classic Scooby areas to explore, great items to discover, and thousands of snacks to munch on. The gameplay varies with many challenges and boss battles, and the entire team will often appear to help out in some interesting and often humorous ways.
There’s no real reason to replay this game once you have finished it, but since most Scooby fans have seen each episode a dozen times there’s no reason not to replay this game (a dozen times). Some mini-games or secret levels would have extended the gameplay, but as it is we are left with only a few secret areas and some bonus art and monster profiles.
Scooby-Doo! Unmasked is a fun platform title that is a bit light in content and certainly not as challenging as the newer platform games like Sly 3 or Tak. Once you get used to the wonky camera control you can settle in for a classic Scooby mystery presented in true TV style, complete with cheesy dialog and a cheesier laugh track.
Scooby is great for kids and the thirty-something crowd trying to recapture their lost youth. It’s certainly a better alternative to watching those reruns on the Cartoon Network.