Sunday, 13 October 2019

SCOOBY-DOO COLLECTION


Not too long ago, the Scooby Gang turned 50 years old and it's still as much a part of the pop culture as ever. To kick off this October, let's take a look at the majority of their video game adaptations. Spread over 11 systems, there are 19 games to get through in this Scooby-Doo collection so let's get started!

The first-ever Scooby-game came about in 1983 by Mattel Electronics. Titled Maze Chase and only ever playable on the Intellivision, this Pac-Man clone is actually a lot more fun than that would have you believe. You can choose from a number of mazes which will increase in speed and difficulty the longer you play, much like the game that inspired it. This time, however, the aim is to actually catch the ghosts.

Switch to keyboard controls to select the level & number of players (left)
The maze will change colour the further you get (right)

Getting in your way is lurking skull that will make chase if you get in his sights, changing up the music to something a little more heart-pumping. You do have a bone which will temporarily stop him in its tracks which will give you enough time to outrun the demon. For 1983, the presentation is very well done and it controls beautifully making it a very addictive arcade game to this day. Surprisingly good.

This skull leads the way to a bonus (left)
Be careful, these ghosts can easily overwhelm (right)

Things go a little off from here with Elite Systems taking the franchise over to the microcomputers for the European market. Released in 1986, Scooby-Doo on the Commodore 64 is more than a little lacklustre even though there appeared to be some promise. The game was apparently rushed out to market after being changed drastically when a previous prototype proved too ambitious. What was once a Dragon's Lair style choose-your-own arcade adventure became this generic action platformer.

You play as Scooby-Doo as he wanders through the hallways of a haunted mansion, punching ghosts along the way. These spirits appear randomly either from the side of the screen or popping up via doors in the background. The problem with this is that a ghost can appear on top of you without warning, instantly taking one of your precious lives. This happened so frequently that I barely managed to get past the first level. A missed opportunity and perhaps the worst game in the compilation.

Some enemies are quite hard to pass without damage, such as this zombie (left)
You get a nicely drawn static screen in between each level (right)

If you're up for a decent Scooby-Doo game on the Commodore 64, Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo is it. This is your standard horizontal platformer which showcases some nice smooth scrolling which was unusual for the system, pleasing graphics and decent controls. Very few games on the C64 managed all three, but the folks at PAL Developments knew what they were doing with a number of decent games to their name.

Hold down the fire button to charge up your attack, though it's best to just keep tapping (left)
The game's map screen shown between levels (right)

Due to the differences in architecture, the Amiga version is expanded upon to such an extent that it is a completely different game. Both have you playing as Scrappy-Doo, an often maligned character but I always enjoyed his youthful shenanigans in the show. They each suffer from the everything-goes style of platforming that seemed unique to European developers at the time - enemies are thoughtlessly places while drops of water are more of a threat than entire pools of the wet stuff. As such, neither hold a candle to the platformers found on consoles at the time but they come darn close.

Scooby will aimlessly meander the screen, occasionally pointing out points of interest (left)
The classic doorway visual gag is here in all its glory (right)

Funnily enough, when the franchise did go to the 16-bit consoles in 1995 (thanks to Acclaim), neither of them were run-and-jumpers. In what is something of a surprise, the Mega Drive / Genesis version of Scooby-Doo Mystery is a traditional point-and-click adventure. The visuals look great for the system it's running on, invoking the classic adventures of the era we all know and love.

As you might expect, playing it with a joypad is not exactly the best way to play such a game and there's no support for the Sega Mouse. Instead, you control Scooby and Shaggy directly with the d-pad and if you want to use the cursor, you press the A button. The recommended verb, most often 'Look', will already be selected when hovering over an interactable item, but if you want to do something else, you'll have to navigate towards the list of verbs the long way. Using items is also a bit clumsy too, but it's not like it's a fast-paced game.

Beyond this, I found the puzzles to be fairly basic and the story - of which there are two of them - to be about as simple as the show. That's not to say that this is a bad game. The dialogue, presentation and visual style make it a very pleasant jaunt with Mystery Inc.

Velma inspects the clues (left), which will be the impetus to open up other areas of the map (right).

The SNES version, as was often the case, is completely different. While still an adventure more so than an action game, it is by no means a point-and-clicker. You again control Shaggy and Scooby as they explore a ghost ship searching for clues. You are defenceless, to begin with, which makes an early encounter with a mouse or parrot somewhat frustrating. Once you discover the trolley, you can throw it in their direction to dispose of them until you re-enter the room. You only have one trolley, so you'll need to pick it up again after each use.

What is a lesson in bad game design is that this pseudo-weapon is mapped to the same button as all other items. You'll have to remember to have it selected before approaching an enemy in order to use it so be careful. The design of the game does promote a more thoughtful and methodical style of play but overall it just makes it dull.

Look, Talk and Use/Take icons will surround the player when necessary (left)
You can switch to any character at any time, Maniac Mansion style (right)

Continuing on with the adventure style of play is Classic Creep Capers for the GameBoy Color and Nintendo 64. The former is another traditional adventure but with a design much better suited to the d-pad. You control each member of Mystery Inc with the d-pad and whenever you reach a certain position on the playfield, a word will display at the bottom to denote an interactive item. Press and hold A and icons representing your available options will surround you. Tap on the d-pad to select it and you're done.

You can switch between each character by pressing Select, and you'll need to do this frequently as each have their own abilities. Beyond this, some characters will not be able to visit certain areas so in that regard it reminds me a little of Maniac Mansion. Another surprisingly good adventure in the franchise all the more remarkable being on the system it's running on.

The Scooby gang need to get into the haunted museum (left)
Interactable items will glow to make them stand out, such as this Egyptian headdress (right)

The Nintendo 64 version is very different, taking on more of a Resident Evil style approach. It takes place in a haunted museum but at the beginning, most of it is blocked off in an arbitrary way - it's "too dark". The puzzles are basically fetch-quests. Find an item to use at a location to open the way ahead. Overall, it's not bad for an N64 action-adventure but I did find it to be a little under polished to fully pull me in.

Shappy getting zapped into cyberspace (left). 
It's not as interesting as you've been lead to believe (right)

Next up is Cyber Chase, based on a fondly remembered straight-to-video animated movie. By the time this came out in 2001, I was long past caring about Scooby-Doo and going by the quality of these games on both the GameBoy Advance and PlayStation, it looks like THQ had too. Both are very insipid platformers with the GBA version standing out for being as terribly bland as it is.

The level select area in similar to that of Crash Bandicoot 2 (left)
As are the levels themselves. Here's the first area's boss (right)

At least the PlayStation version attempted something a little more full-bodied, though they completely failed at it. Cyber Chase apes the 3D platforming of the early Crash Bandicoots by having you run into the screen through a corridor of obstacles. The issue here is that there are very few obstacles. Most levels that I played are sparsely laid out. Enemies sit and wait for you to attack by throwing custard pies at them - of which there aren't enough in the level to defeat each enemy. One of the worst games here, and that's not even taking to account the poorly programmed platforming.

Everyone can be talked to, but most will have very little to say (left)
The map screen of the hotel resort (right)

THQ would keep hold of the franchise during the release of the live-action movies. I didn't like these films at all back in 2002 when I had to re-watch the ending as a cinema usher (they existed back then). Over time, I've come to appreciate their carefree charm but I would've liked to have seen the original more satirical and darkly comic concept come to fruition. I guess it makes business sense to keep the lewd humour out for the kids. They are the target audience after all.

Anyway, there's not much to say about Scooby-Doo: The Motion Picture for the GameBoy Advance. It's an isometric action-adventure that has some interesting graphics for a GBA game but overall is a little meandering in its gameplay. I might have gotten into it if I had stuck with it but nothing really caught me during my time with it.

Sneaking past a ghost on tip-toes rarely works (left)
Velma searching for her glasses while Scooby is close to freaking out (right)

In 2003, a year before the second movie came out, THQ gave us Mystery Mayhem for the GameBoy Advance (we're skipping the big-boy consoles of the 6th generation). We're back to 2D platforming, but this time the stages are more interconnected. You will encounter spooks which often require stealth to get past but they are so sensitive to you I rarely got past them without damage. You don't have any attacks at least to start with so you'll just have to take it.

Damage is here represented as fear. If you fill your gauge, the dog and hippy combo will flee uncontrollably. The issue is that I haven't figured out how to get past most of the ghosts, and with a less than inspired level design I don't want to keep playing to find out. I get a sense of a very basic Metroidvania in there but it's so simple I struggle to categorise it as such. There are many better versions of that playstyle on the system anyway.

Swiping at a mouse, something you'll be doing quite a bit of (left)
This level has you dodging a dragon (right)

THQ would delve into more mediocrity with the GBA tie-in to the 2004 movie Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed. Being yet another sidescroller of very little originality, it sees the monster-hunting canine traipse from left to right, swing a rat or two before reaching the end. To be fair, there is more to it than that but not much. Completely unmemorable.

On the flip side, THQ's next few stabs use the license much better. 2005's Scooby-Doo Unmasked had vastly different versions on the GBA and Nintendo DS but both are above average platformers. I prefer the GBA version, which has the best Scooby sprite work on the system. The levels are nicely designed with a costume-change gimmick giving the mutt different abilities.

You can spend 'goop' to earn different costumes (left)
This kung-fu master once will finally allow you to pass these boxes (right)

The DS version continues this gimmick but I suspect the development team overestimated what they could do in their production time. I feel it is a few months of testing short of a good game, with some strange nitpicks that heavily bring down the quality. For example, Scooby's jumping arch is a little off. Walking and jumping don't cover much distance so you'll be forced to run into a jump regularly. The issue is that he takes a little too long to get up to speed. Performing a long jump from a small platform is unnecessarily fiddly. Later, you'll find jumping up to a higher platform nigh-on impossible if there is an enemy patrolling it. Its thoughtless placement pushes you back when hit and there's no effective mid-air attack to overcome it - at least at that stage of the game.

As a scientist, use the touchscreen to dissolve the jelly block (left)
The martial artist will punch through wooden barriers without an annoying minigame (right)


You will get a number of costumes and accompanying abilities to aid you, including a scientist and a kung-fu master. They may take away as many abilities as they give, but their main reason for existing is to clear the path ahead. For example, the scientist can disintegrate blocks of jellified goo by way of a touch-screen mini-game while the kung-fu master can punch down tougher obstacles. It's a nice concept and with a bit more polish, both would be worthy platformers for the respective systems.

Chasing down a funeral carriage (left). Hit it multiple times to disable it.
Scooby can activate a context-sensitive move when standing on green pads (right)

The last THQ game in the compilation is from 2006. Who's Watching Who, which are drastically different on the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable, are perhaps the best platformers in the compilation. The PSP version is a fully 3D collectathon with each unlocked level having their own gimmick. For example, you'll likely encounter a cemetery-set car chase or a madcap escape from the possessed halls of a hotel before you encounter a more traditional platforming level.

The stages are accessed by collecting Scooby dog tags generously scattered across the overworld - beginning with the courtyard of a ghostly hotel - but locating the entrance is more of a challenge. Sometimes you'll have to talk to an NPC first. Other times you'll have to scale the walls to reach the roof. It's nicely done, though don't go in expecting a Banjo-Kazooie level of detail and gameplay.

This media centre acts as save points as well as checkpoints (left).
There's a clue on this funeral carriage. Give it a bash to get it (right)

Being a lesser-powered hand-held system, the DS version is an entirely different game though the story does remain. You have been invited to guest star on a popular ghost-hunting show with their chosen location being the aforementioned haunted hotel. As a result, a plethora of filming equipment is strategically placed throughout the venue which acts as save points. This is true for both games, but I noticed it more here.

Who's Watching Who's dual-screen counterpart is still a 3D platformer, though characters are now well-drawn and animated sprites instead. Each mission is large with interconnected areas in which to search for clues - your primary source for progression. Take these to Velma to analyse via the touchscreen using a number of clue-finding techniques including dusting for fingerprints and sniffing. When you have enough, you can accuse the culprit Cluedo style and move on to the next themed area, which includes a theme park and an abandoned airfield.

Sniffing out a clue. It will be placed next to the suspect it relates too (left).
Using the touchscreen to activate the lifts (right)

The controls are competent and Scooby-Doo has a move set that's enjoyable to perform, though I did find it a little difficult to gauge a platform in the distance when the perspective shifts. Like the PSP version, some stages are reserved for racing and play very similarly to its big brother. Just be aware that clue finding is your primary goal - it's easy to miss some when conducting a high-speed chase.

You'll occasionally need to access the touch screen for mundane tasks such as operating a lift, but its most frequent use is that of items and power-ups. Drag a burger to Scooby's mouth and he'll be invincible for a short while. The chilli will increase your damage and length of your spin attack while the ice-cream hurts enemies that get close as well as giving you a nice blast.

There is one more chase section I should mention which is, unfortunately, the worst aspect of the game. Shaggy and Scooby are chased by the spirit-du-jour and you'll need to swipe right to run faster and up to jump over obstacles. Occasionally a barrier will pop up such as a bolted door or spider web and you have a limited time to open them. These aren't entirely unplayable using the mouse, but I suspect playing them on the original hardware would be far more palatable.

Velma activating a terminal. Press TAB to switch screens to play the minigame (left).
Daphne shows off her martial arts skills against some ghostly musketeers (right)

The leash was taken away from THQ for the last two games in this compilation, which is a little bit of a shame as I believe they were just getting into their groove. Now, Warner Bros themselves hold the rights which seems apt considering that's where the movie license resides. These last two games for the DS, First Frights and The Spooky Swamp released in 2009 and 2010 respectively, came about at the same time as two similarly-staged straight-to-video live-action films; The Mystery Begins and Curse of the Lake Monster. These two movies aren't all that (I'd check out Daphne & Velma from 2018 instead) but I do enjoy the computer-generated visual style of the games, even if they are a drastic departure from the original designs.

Both are 3D action-adventures with an emphasis of platforming in linear stages. Think Tell-Tale's LEGO series and you have a good idea. Levels are played in groups of two from the usual selection of Mystery Inc members, though you're not free to pick and choose in the first few stages. Scooby and Shaggy are naturally your first players and the two work well together. Scooby can jump a little higher and shuffle through dog-flaps randomly placed in the scenery. Shaggy had a grappling hook that can launch him to higher places and trigger switches from a distance. Velma can manipulate machinery and bypass controls at terminals while Fred is strong and can push or pull things. Daphne, on the other hand, seems to have taken a cue from Sarah Michelle Geller's Buffy-fied portrayal of the role by being something of an acrobat. No pipe can stand in her way, and no ghoul can match her flying kick.

There are some decent (if simple) puzzles to solve if you want to get anywhere (left)
Fred and Velma escaping from prison in the Mexican stage (right).

Most of the game is played on the top screen, but there are a number of touch-screen events that become necessary, particularly in Velma's case. When decoding a terminal, you'll have to successfully input a game of Simon Says. These are no big deal but I did find them to break the flow of the game itself - everything pauses just so you can follow some lights on a screen. I've not played the Wii or PlayStation 2 versions of each game, but I suspect the latter would remove any unnecessary gimmicks such as this.

Either way, both are very much playable and surprised me greatly with their polished quality for a licenced title. In fact, a good portion of the games on this list did. I was particularly chuffed with the number of traditional adventuring on offer, particularly when faced with games on systems not normally known for them. The world of Scooby-Doo fits that kind of game very well so it's good to see it appear outside of PC platforms.

I have a soft spot for things that go bump in the night and watching Scooby-Doo in my youth probably had a big part to play with that. Most of these games passed me by on their original release but I'm glad to report that many of them fare very well, making this compilation well worth checking out.



To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses FS-UAE to emulate the Amiga, Nostalgia for the Intellivision and PPSSPP for the PlayStation Portable. Uses Retroarch with the VICE x64, Genesis Plus GX, SNES9X, TGB Dual, Mednafen Beetle PSX, Mupen 64, VBA Next and DesMuME cores to emulate the console and handheld games. X-input controllers supported for most games. Manuals for some games included. Tested on Windows 10.

File Size: 1.13 Gb.  Install Size: 1.59 Gb.  Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ

Download


Scooby-Doo (the TV show) is © Hanna-Barbera
Scooby-Doo (the movies) are © Warner Bros
Scooby-Doo (the game) is © Elite Systems Ltd
Scooby-Doo: Maze Chase is © Mattel Electronics
Scooby-Doo & Scrappy-Doo is © Hi-Tech Software Ltd
Scooby-Doo Mystery is ©  Acclaim Entertainment
Scooby-Doo: Classic Creep Capers, Cyber Chase, Mystery Mayhem, Unmasked, Who's Watching Who and Monster's Unleashed & The Motion Picture are © THQ
Scooby-Doo: First Frights & The Spooky Swamp are ©  Warner Bros Entertainment Inc
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me


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9 comments:

  1. Scooby Dooby Doo. Where are you? We got some work to do now. (:
    Haven't seen most of these before. In fact, the only one I have seen, is 'Scooby Doo' (your second game) on the Spectrum. Could never get very far in it, though. lol. Will be good to play it again.

    Really excited with those Scooby adventure games!

    Thanks for all your hard work Biff.

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome!

      Those console adventures aren't bad all things considered. I've heard good things about the Windows games from The Learning Company too, but I've yet to play them.

      Surprisingly, my favourite of the bunch was Who's Watching Who, the DS version specifically. It's a little janky in places but there's something about it clicked with me.

      Delete
  2. It looks like not all the files are on MEGA yet, one says Undecrypted file

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Also i don't seen an EXE file

      Delete
    2. Ok, there was an issue with the upload that I didn't notice. It should be fixed now.

      Delete
  3. There's a super-obscure game you're missing - the never-officially-released 1989 Scooby Doo C64 game by Microillusions. It's an adventure game with three scenarios, run-from-the-monster sequences and the ability to pull a Fred and split the gang up in any and all ways. Download it at http://www.gamebase64.com/game.php?id=25569&d=18&h=0 and read about it at https://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64/scooby-doo/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I found this out after already having created the install package. It already took an inordinant amount of time to create, so I didn't want to delay any further just to add it in. Perhaps I'll add is in a revision somewhere down the line.

      Delete
  4. Oh wow, I played the Elite Systems game once at a friend's house, decades ago. I could tell it wasn't good relative to other games I'd played - difficult, fiddly and not much fun - but at that age all games had a superceding quality just because they were games. I think it had something to do with how scarce a new game could be to come by, and something to do with the absolute veneration I had for these magical artefacts - something which wouldn't wear off until I was well into my teens.

    When you were very young, a licensed game offered the promise of 'entering' the world of a beloved cartoon or film, like a portal to another world. This despite the generic platforming action that was usually involved, with little of the action, sounds or sights familiar to those worlds. It didn't matter for some reason.

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  5. First Frights and Spooky Swamp do have a PC version
    If I'm not wrong, a Polish (or Czech) company did these ports. Same goes for Rayman Raving Rabbids 2.

    ReplyDelete