I don’t know about you, but where I am it’s a dark, windy and stormy Halloween night! Welcome to SNES Hub’s first annual Halloween review! Starting this year, I will try to have a spooky themed game review posted on Halloween night. This year’s game is Scooby-Doo Mystery. Let’s see if the game does the license justice.
The game starts you off with Scooby and the gang in the Mystery Van heading to their next adventure. The player is told through a cut-scene they are going to a ship wreck exhibit, and so begins our first stage.
You, the player, control Shaggy with Scooby alongside him. The goal of each of the 4 levels is to collect clues to give to Velma so she can solve the mystery. Once the mystery is solved, you’ll need to find items for Fred so he can create a trap. Then Shaggy has to locate the ghost of the level and make the villain chase him towards the trap. Once the monster gets ensnared, the unmasking of the so-called ghost and the motivation of the crime is played out just as it was in the cartoons.
Each level comprises of several rooms that need to be explored to find clues to solve the case. There are also weapons that can be picked up along the way. Some examples are a scooter, fish (yes I said fish!), mallet, and more.
Besides the ghost you’re after, there are other enemies sprinkled in the game. You’ll come across parrots, rats, werewolves, a unicycle moving on its own, among others. There isn’t a whole lot of them, but they do re-spawn which sucks.
Scooby-Doo Mystery doesn’t have the typical health system found in other games. In fact your health bar is empty when you begin the game. That’s because every time Shaggy/Scooby gets touched by an enemy, their health bar fills up a little. It’s called the Frightometer and even being in the presence of the big baddie in the level can cause the meter to rise. Once it fills up, you lose a life and Scooby and Shaggy get to running (they’ve always been such scaredy cats). Luckily Daphne has a few Scooby snacks which will lower your meter. You can also sometimes find them laying around in the levels themselves.
What I find good about this game is that it successfully captures the charm of the original TV series. The sprites look like their cartoon counterparts, the music is 16-bit renditions of the tunes from the classic show, a few voice clips from the actual cartoon were used for the game, it literally feels like I’m playing the cartoon show. I was rather surprised how closely Scooby-Doo Mystery captures the essence of the series. I’ve played other games inspired by TV licenses that missed the mark. That’s not the case here.
I like the exploration aspect of Scooby-Doo Mystery and finding items and figuring what to do with them. There really aren’t any big brain teasers, but there is enough detective work here to keep you engaged.
What I find not so good are some of the gameplay elements. When exploring the levels, it’s often not clear there’s a door/entrance in the background or foreground that you can enter (I was getting Batman Forever vibes ). Most of my time with the game was being perplexed as to where to go next. I then realized by dumb luck, “oh there’s a door there.” It can become frustrating. Another con for me is Shaggy/Scooby’s jump. It feels slightly unsatisfying. They don’t jump high enough for me. Although their jump length is just ok enough to get through the game, I would be more comfortable if they had a higher jumping ability. It feels like you’re just making it when there’s some jump from platform to platform action.
There are a couple of mini-games baked into the gameplay which can reward you with Scooby Snacks or extra lives. One of them re-enacts the iconic moments when Shaggy and Scooby raid the refrigerator of wherever they are to make a huge sandwich. In the game, you control Scooby as he tries to catch the sandwich ingredients Shaggy throws from the fridge. The bigger the sandwich, the more points earned.
The other mini-game is a whack-a-mole spinoff. The goal is to whack the heads of the ghost and monsters that pop out of the holes. But try to avoid whacking Scooby, Velma, Daphne and Fred!
Though there is no battery back-up to the game (it’s too short for one), Scooby-Doo Mystery offers a password system. A new password is given to you once you complete a level. This way you don’t have to beat the game in one sitting.
Graphics are a big win in Scooby-Doo Mystery. They look very faithful to the cartoon series, sprites are large and your character (Shaggy) is well animated. I wish the backgrounds had a little more detail in them (especially the first level), but all in all not bad. While playing, I was definitely getting the sense the graphical style looked like Maniac Mansion with a Scooby-Doo coating (not a bad thing).
Sound is very good with most of the music coming from the TV series. One point of criticism is that while I like each level’s theme music, it can become irritating to hear the same melody being played over and over in a shorter than wanted loop like it does. This is especially true when you get stuck and trying to think of what to do next. The music can become grating in these instances.
Scooby-Doo Mystery emulates the spirit of the classic cartoon series quite well. It made me nostalgic for the show I adored as a little boy. However it does have hiccups. It was frustrating and confusing not being able to clearly see entrances that could be entered, the level’s theme music can become annoying after awhile, and Shaggy’s/Scooby’s jumping ability is a bit stilted.
For fans of the cartoon, I would recommend wholeheartedly. It’s not perfect, but enjoyable for the right audience.
3 out of 5 stars.