Scooby-Doo The Motion Picture
Reviewed by MaxH
Has anyone seen the Scooby Doo live action film yet?
Well, I have and I liked it a lot for reasons I won't
bore you with now. This movie spin-off from
developers Helixe attempts to accurately recreate the
movie's plot and characters and even sets. And it
succeeds quite well. Little digital photographs of
Sarah Michelle Gellar, Matthew Lilard and the gang
accompany any speech boxes, the story (For the most
part) follows that of the film, and the locations
match up quite impressively. Unfortunately, despite
the movie gloss, it's not really very good.
Basically, ghosts are haunting the spooky island
theme park and it's owner, Emile Mondavarious
(Accompanied by a digital photograph of Rowan
Atkinson) calls the Mystery Inc gang to come and sort
it out. Once there, the gang has a minor argument and
split up, each member trying to solve the mystery
independently of the others. You are left in control
of Shaggy and Scooby (It's your choice which, they
both have the same skills and you can switch at any time).
Scooby Doo is an isometric 'adventure' game of sorts,
which apparently offers numerous puzzles, mini-games
and combat situations. It starts off quite
promisingly, you walk around talking to hotel guests
to get clues, eventually learning that all the room
keys are missing. Talk to people by the pool and you
discover that they keys are at the bottom of the
pool, which Velma can drain if you can find her. Find
Velma and she has lost her glasses which you need to
find. And so on.
For the first couple of chapters it's just a case of
wandering up to hotel guests or more specific
characters (Including a creepy Janitor called Old Man
Smithers. Fans of the show should get a kick out of
that) and pressing the A button. And, for the game's
entire run, this is as complicated as the game gets.
Sometimes a character will ask you to find something
for them, but these always come in the form of large
flashing boxes placed conspicuously in the middle of
rooms. So if you're in this for the puzzle solving,
prepare to have your intelligence insulted.
Once Fred and Daphne have been found, the combat
parts of the game are introduced. Basically ghosts or
monsters will run towards you on site, and you can
hit them with the B button, and then block their
shots with the L button. enemies usually take upwards
of six or seven hits each to kill, so combat becomes
quite tedious. the best part of the game is yet to come.
The mini-games! There are four very simple mini-games
to be found in Scooby Doo (all of which can be played
at will from the main menu) three of these are very
simple (But sometimes very difficult) puzzle games
that require fast thinking and good logic. the
fourth, and probably most monotonous, is a simple
chalenge of pushing buttons as a little box moves
over the matching symbols (A system identical to
Parappa the Rapper's). These are nothing to get too
excited about, but they are surprisingly well
designed and fun, and provide welcome breaks from the
rather dreary pacing of the main game.
For the first half of Scooby Doo, things are quite
pleasant. The excellent presentation and easy mix of
item searching and hotel guest-interrogating is quite
mindless, but it's harmless fun, and the combat is
kept to a minimum. The story is also interspersed
into the game at regular intervals and there are
definite goals set to you (Many of which can be
completed in any order you like). So with all of
this, although it's quite average, it at least gives
you a solid sense of progress, and there's nothing to
really complain about.
But things rapidly deteriorate past the halfway
point. Helixe totally scraps the amiable (although
admittedly unexciting) hotel exploring 'puzzle'
sections in favour of complete combat. It becomes
inexplicably dull and a real chore to get through the
game. The plot also takes a dive and stops making
sense at this point, so it's quite obvious the
developers gave up on what was quite a nice little
average licensed game (And, as many know, I have
quite a fondness for such games). The item finding
and cool mini-games are still here, but the boring,
unsubtle combat just ruins it.
Also, for a Scooby game, there is a distinct lack of
character. There's one genuinely funny moment in the
game, and a few smile-worthy character lines but
mostly everything is just so generic. To get clues
from hotel guests you will usually have the cycle
through the six or so pre-set comments that EVERY
single character makes. You'll be sick of "I missed
lambada lessons for this" or "some honeymoon" the
first time you hear them, never mind the fiftieth.
And, although pretty, the game has countless clues
that it was developed in quite a hurry. The
horrifying drop in game quality halfway through if
probably the biggest clue. And the many corridors
that put up temporary invisible walls is another. And
Helixe obviously haven't realised that if you lead an
enemy over to a wall, it will get stuck there, unable
to attack, so you can kill it without any
bother.There are only three different locations in
the game as well, and no gameplay features whatsoever
apart from what I've mentioned. So there's a shocking
lack of variety here.
The quality of the graphics is quite high. The detail
in your surroundings is impressive, with characters
being made out of polygons (That cast shadows and
become lighter when standing near windows, which is
cool) rather than the usual sprites. Everything is
bright and colourful and fits in with the film's
style well. It's a shame there are no outside
locations, but what's there is good. My only problem
with the visuals relates back to what I said about
lack of character. The main characters are
recognisable, but badly animated. Or, more
accurately, not animated at all. None of them have
faces, and only shaggy's walk has been captured
authentically, everything looks very bland. The
3d-like environments may be impressive (and resemble
the film sets) but they are a bit un-cartoon like.
And the fact that Velma turns into a hideous glowing
white hunchback who looks like she is dragging two
corpses behind her whenever you use the sneak move
(although, that is never) is quite disturbing.
The sound is barely worth mentioning, so I won't be
going into detail. Very mechanical tunes that attempt
to be creepy but fail (And repeat themselves a lot)
and very placid sound effects that don't fit at all.
The jingle that plays when you complete a goal is good though.
Scooby Doo will last quite a long time, for a movie
tie-in on handheld at least. Expect to waste a little
under seven hours completing this.
This is a real shame in the end. What started out as
a mindlessly average game soon floats into the realms
of tedium, offering nothing new beyond the first
level and eventually throwing away all the fun bits
anyway. It's still playable and fun in parts (and,
sadly, is the best Scooby game I've yet to play). But
the sheer drabness of it all manages to overshadow
any fun ideas and concepts the game may offer up.
Only buy it if you need something easy to wile away
seven hours and have the same love for licensed tat
that I do. I'm guessing that's none of you.
Overall: 3 out of 10