Scooby Doo: Unmasked
But for those of you who remember the classic series here’s a game that’ll bring back those fond (non controversial) memories, and remind you that despite the fact Scooby and Shaggy just about eat John Goodman’s weight in food in every episode? They are NOT in fact hooked on drugs!! Really! Two cases of the human and non-human munchies does not make for two cases of drug abuse in my book! Now onto the game (key opening credit music and the flying bat fly-by across the spooky mansion).
Styling itself as a “classic” episode of the series (not the recent remakes or the blasphemy that was the live action movies, of which only the latest animated series came the closest to living up to the beloved original) the gang is headed out to see Fred’s cousin who works at this SFX company that uses artificial constructs for SFX in movies, only to find that those constructs (made of technological skeletons overlayed with an incredible substance called Flummer… (Flubber?)…) are running amok and Fred’s cousin is marked as the guilty one. Why? Because he’s not around, and apparently as you know from countless episodes of Law & Order being missing marks you as being guilty, or being kidnapped by the true guilty one who is blaming you for his or her crimes.
It’s during this start you get the hang of the controls, and find that this game is easy to pick up and easy to learn (as any game aimed at children should be). That isn’t surprising, but what IS surprising is that this game is easy AND fun to boot! You’ll find it’s engaging and quite fun to play, something you might not expect from a kid’s game! Playing this first level at the studio gets you into gear, teaches you the gimmicks of the game (for the most part though there is more to learn as you play), and shows you that even if you were burned by previous Scooby Doo games that you’ll actually enjoy this one. It’s not hard, you won’t get lost (just seek out the Scooby Snack trail to get back on track if you wander from the path), and you won’t have to struggle to learn this. That alone should make it worth checking out, but there’s more!
Ok, clue the mood setting music now. Image 1 of 5. Click to enlarge
Besides having most of the original Scooby gang return, including everyone’s favorite hippy slash former host of his own music countdown show known as Casey Kasem, we also have the return to video game voice acting of Mr. Adam West (the guy you remember from XIII). Now that he’s no longer lugging the “Anti-talent” of David Duchovny this obviously is going to be Adam West’s chance to shine, right? Well… not so. Apparently Adam West only appears in cameos in the beginning and end, being that he’s one of the likely candidates as the “Criminal” of the game, so if you were hoping for spending some quality time with the vocals of Mr. West in this game then you’ll be highly disappointed. Sorry.
But just because you have a lack of the Adam West? That doesn’t mean the game is going to suck! After all just having most of the original cast return isn’t enough for this game, this game is also packing abit of enemy characters and some locales that is basically a who’s who of classic Scooby Doo series from the past. If you are a fan of the old school series you should recognize quite abit as you play, including a few of the situations to boot which
However one drawback to the “retro” of the game is including the old school “laugh track” that was used in the original series, and boy isn’t it fun to play a game featuring a laugh track recorded by people who are either older and/or deader than you are.
Image 1 of 5. Click to enlarge
Now onto the happy situation music, and the canned laugh track.
Another gimmick of the game that makes it cool is the whole Scooby/Shaggy thing, and how they are used.
On the Scooby side is the costume changes. Using machines strewn about each of the game’s few “Worlds”, after collecting sufficient “Flummer” to “pay” the cost of making the costume (from substance which, surprise surprise, can also be used as a dessert topping… yeah, I too want believe in eat something that look like multicolored technicolor ectoplasm… yuck) you can give Scooby a costume change that gives him new abilities that (yes) are true to the classic show and sporting their own moves completely different than Scooby‘s (unique to each suit)! There’s a martial arts suit that brings back Scooby’s old school buttwhupping abilities (complete with Matrix style slow move action during “fatality“ hits… or is my PS2 just slowing due to the amount of on screen action), a “bat” suit (which is ironic since the game has a “Batman” in it), and one more suit. Very nice despite the fact I wish there was more costume. Just be careful of UV lamps (or to be more precise UV light) you see lying about the levels, because the stuff you collect AND the suit you’re wearing will be destroyed by UV light (Flummer it seems is weak to UV light! Too bad UV lamps are set up more to hinder you than offer you a chance to “fatality” enemies). Yes, I said the stuff you collected will be destroyed! That means you’ll have to collect Flummer all over again, which provides a little challenge since you can’t horde up the stuff from level to level… so if you see a machine? Use it or lose it. (Let’s set up a trap while we talk about Shaggy, let‘s make it something complex and silly).
Meanwhile on the Shaggy side is the food chain. Along the way you’ll find ingredients for food, but you might notice that you can’t eat the stuff (just gather it). Wait a sec, wait a sec, it is edible and all, you just have to bring it to the proper person to make it into something you can eat. Like Shaggy, who’ll whip you up a plate of grub which increases your life meter by one “badge” (which you can‘t do if Shaggy has been, you know, captured during the game… so you‘ll have to save Shaggy before you can use the food option). Of course you might be pondering recipes and the such at the thought of that, but you shouldn’t. This isn’t Harvest Moon you know, just give Shaggy whatever you got and he’ll make you food regardless of what you give him. Look, what are you fussing over, they’ve got tritanium lined stomaches so no combination of ingredients will phase them, even if it’s something you yourself will never ever ever eat yourself. For instance you can give Shaggy something like chocolate, beef, cabbage, liverwurst, onions and marshmallows and he‘ll make food out of it… don’t worry, you won’t kill Scooby if you make him eat it. You might kill you if you eat it, not Scooby though.
Is there any downsides to this game? Let’s see… quickly! Chase music! Image 2 of 5. Click to enlarge
It’s too easy. Even the nostalgia factor (and the occasional level with the difficult Prince of Persia style jumping from hanging ring to hanging ring section) won’t hide the fact that the game is oh so short.
Adam West isn’t in the game long enough, and considering how I praised his work in XIII (which is one of the few things I praised about the game XIII) I would have thought he’d be in a game longer. Please, Mr. West, do another game with a longer appearance! (Keep running!)
The game has a
There’s also traps in the game, and I have a feeling you might end up having to assemble a “trap” with these sooner or later… again with the hunt for all the traps which might be a pain if you don’t want to replay the same levels over and over just looking for the right trap part. I played about half the game before I had to return it, and I didn’t run into that… but it might be there. (Do the old running through many doors trick!)
Let’s see… creepy “laugh track” from people long since dead (or old old old), the inability to use UV lamps strewn about levels to your advantage (and not always to your disadvantage), the few “worlds” and costume changes (when I wanted more out of this game), and the lack of interaction or ability to get much assistance from the rest of the “Scooby Gang” highlights my few downers. (Jump down that chute!)
But at least this game doesn’t feature Scrappy, my LEAST FAVORITE SCOOBY CHARACTER! Evil thing! Damn your “Puppy Power”! Ditto with Scooby Dum and the rest of the parasitic relatives who are even more useless than underused Mario character Luigi (at least Luigi is more lovable than Scrappy)! (Ah! Trigger the trap!) That’s that. Now it’s time to gather the clues and do the unmasking… of evil! (Ouch! You caught the bad guy… and you did it while running away too! Now… the unmasking!)
Image 2 of 5. Click to enlarge
Scooby Doo Closing Breakdown… UNMASKED! Image 3 of 5. Click to enlarge
Let’s check the clues… set up for unmasking music by replaying the clues, please!
First off we have the clue of nostalgia! This memory of Scooby Doos past reminds you how this game respects it’s past, and brings back memories of the old series as you play (without reminding you of nostalgia that nobody wants to remember, like Scrappy and the rest of Scooby‘s useless family tree, or the fact that Vincent Price once co-starred in a whole series of a Scooby spin-off about a mystical Pandora‘s box of evil ghosts of which Fred and Thelma were not involved)! From the guest appearances to the costume changes and the way you “solve” each case, the game bleeds nostalgia like a Scooby Sandwich bleeds what may or may not be a combination of mayo, mustard, pickle juice, tomato sauce, melted marshmallows and gravy. (Somebody laugh uncomfortably at the canned laugh track!)
Then there’s this strange clue, which I call the clue of solid gameplay! Yes, the clue of solid gameplay clearly shows evidence that you can get into this game without the slightest hitch and can master it in no time flat, yet it contains enough of a challenge so that it’s not completely a pushover to play (the jumping sequences can be challenging at times)!
Did I mention the clue of the graphics? It has this beautiful quality to it that really makes it look like it’s an animated episode of the series (the more recent Scooby incarnation that I said was good if memory serves me correct), and that along with the excellent music and sound effects rounds out the look to make it good.
Finally there’s the clue of an Adam West and a Casey Kasem (amongst the many voices in this game in the clue of voice acting worth listening to, even if most of them don‘t have much to say except for Thelma and Shaggy who you interact with
Clearly these clues point to the fact that new and old Scooby fans will get a kick out of Unmasked!
Image 3 of 5. Click to enlarge
But then we have these clues as well…
There’s the clue of the UV lamps, and how their glare seemingly never get used to your advantage. You can’t bait enemies beneath them, you can’t throw them into the lamps, you can’t even trigger lamps as traps. More use of the lamps to your advantage instead of to your disadvantage might have been nice.
Another clue is the clue of the wasted cameo. Sure, Adam West IS in this game… but not long enough to be truly appreciated. More quality time with Mr. West would have been so appreciated.
Then there’s the time clue, which leads me to believe that the game is just short. I wish it was longer, I wish the game had more “mysteries” and more costumes for Scooby to change into, but it was short on these. Short on worlds, short on costumes, short on gameplay.
Otherwise the clues, though pointing as things that might be of concern, are not concerning enough to warrant a worrisome appearance at the clue table. (Nod your head)
Moments to Remember?
Pointing out the various villains, and remembering when you saw them the first time will probably be the biggest moment… that and the short appearance by Adam West and the first time Scooby dons his Bat costume, and you remember that the game features a guy who used to dress up like a 60‘s style Bat, and who once did the Bat Dance which -- say, didn‘t John Travolta do this dance in Pulp Fiction? A few of the clues that point to a jogging of one’s memory at a future date. (Somebody take credit for something!)
What to Ignore?
Basically you should solve the mystery before the gang, and do it in far less time than the gang who probably won’t figure out until the very end who did it… but who did do it? Was it Adam West? Was it his pretty female assistant? Was it Fred’s cousin? Or was it… well, you will figure it out before everyone else, I’m sure of it… so ignore that. (Shake your head in disbelief and reach over to grab that mask!)
Putting all the clues together, and reasoning out the answer… clearly the villain of this game is…(unmasking)… SHOCKERS!! It’s the fact that this game is probably only for Scooby fans!
Ok, cue the roundup music… now, while you were distracted by the clues of solid gameplay and Adam West you failed to notice the all important clue that this game is EASY! It’s not completely easy, you’ll find some places that’ll give you a challenge, but overall the clues point to this game not being as appealing to wide ranges of audiences as it could have been (especially in the light that you can find far more appealing platformers like Sly 3 : Honor Among Thieves this year and the much anticipated Okami coming in 2006), thus probably while this game will have no trouble staking claim amongst Scooby fans of all types, it probably won’t hit the spot for non-Doo-ers.
(Now motion your hands about as you talk) Sure, if you are not a Scooby fan you might rent it, but true purchasing power remains with the Scooby Doo fans, at least until the game to dip below $20 either new or pre-played, then you‘ll see more non Doo fans dip into the bag of mysteries and try this game out.
But, for now, the game is only going to really be an appealing mystery for Scooby Doo fans when it comes to the purchasing road. Yes, some of you non-Scooby gang types might rent this, and try it out for a week, but once you finish this you’ll not find a reason to replay it (that’s only the realm of the true Scooby fan), and you’ll return it post haste.
As we put the criminal into the car for booking we know that it’s all so clear now. Scooby Doo : Unmasked is a culprit only die hard Scooby-ites will want to round up and capture, not so for the rest of us. Sure, some of us will capture this one in the reruns slot and rent this, but Scooby is for Scooby fans (period).
Scooby-dooby-doooooooo! (end episode and roll ending credits music)
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