Based directly on Scooby Doo 2, Warner Bros.' second live-action feature film inspired by the enduringly popular Hanna-Barbera cartoon, this sequel to THQ's Scooby Doo invites PC players to reprise the roles of Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne in a new adventure. The gang's reputation as mystery-solvers is at stake, when the grand opening ceremony for Coolsville's Coolsonian Criminology Museum that they're attending is disrupted by what seem to be a pair of spooky ghouls. Players must explore their surroundings, search for clues, and set traps to catch a slew of monstrous villains. Game levels are based on artwork and stills from the feature film.
Years ago, Scooby Doo used to be a big thing. The cartoon was fun to watch, and the laugh track poked fun at other obviously bad sitcoms of the time, whether or not they actually intended to do that. Each episode always seemed to end up exactly the same as the one before it, but the locations and characters that Scooby Doo and the gang - Mystery Inc. - encountered were always pretty interesting. And just like Hello Kitty and the Ninja Turtles, Scooby Doo has found its way back into the hearts of children today; it's due largely in part to the new feature films being produced. Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed focuses on the second movie, currently playing in theaters.
I don't know if the movies are actually quality, but I can attest to the game lacking majorly in many areas. The game starts off with Mystery Inc. visiting a museum that is holding the costumes of past unmasked villains, when suddenly one of the creatures comes alive and breaks out with another costume, and a mysterious old man cackles and taunts Scooby and company. The plot then basically follows Shaggy and Scooby as they unravel this mystery, finding out who the old man is and what happened to the creatures.
It isn't exactly the most thrilling of plots, and the game is incredibly short to begin with. After playing for a little over an hour, I paused my game and noticed that I was nearly 50% complete! These few hours are split up into sections of video and gameplay, neither of which is terribly entertaining. The gameplay consists basically of a number of mini-games that are reminiscent of online parlor games.
One game has you pulling crates in a puzzle-type fashion in order to clear a straight path for Scooby Doo. One asks you to catch a number of people that are falling from a trap-door in a porch into a bathtub; bombs and anvils are also apparently dropping and should be avoided (though wouldn't it be a good idea to put out the bomb's fuse in the bath water?). Yet another requires you to maneuver Scooby Doo around an environment in order to collect Scooby Snacks (that open locked doors), complete with poor enemy AI and hit detection. Even another asks you to compete in a "Simon Says"-esque dance game where symbols slowly scroll across the bottom of the screen for you to select in the right order; the silliness is in that the proper sequence is already on the screen at all times. Are these games supposed to be fun? Is this a case of catering to a very young crowd, or a very depressing game rushed out to market in order to coincide with the movie's release? Either way, I can't see anyone over three years old being even slightly enthralled with this sort of gameplay.
The plot that coincides with the gameplay doesn't even make sense. At one point, Shaggy and Scooby take the gang's van out to investigate a mansion. When you arrive, Fred is apparently already there waiting for you, and just inside are Velma and Daphne already! The already loony mini-games are only hampered by the total lack of continuity in this storyline.
The graphics in the game get the job done, but are largely unimpressive. The FMV sequences aren't that great, and they suffer from an oddly weak framerate. The in-game graphics consist of 2D backdrops and 3D character models. The models themselves look okay, but animate very oddly, with quick spurts of animation at times and total blank looks at other times. The textures were fairly sharp, and the in-game framerate was very smooth, both of which were pleasing; as a whole, however, the graphics fail to be great.
The sound isn't actually that bad and might be the best part of the game. Not all of the actors from the movie played their characters' voices, but most of them seemed fairly spot-on. Some, like Daphne (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) sounded nothing like the actress from the film. The background music accompaniment is decent most of the time, and sound effects like the "running in place" noise are here in full force.
When you add everything up, even if Scooby Doo 2 had better graphics and a cohesive storyline, it still wouldn't have been fun with the gameplay intact as it is now. These mini-games are simply uninspired, boring, and unfortunately make up the bulk of the game. A very young child may be able to grasp the simplicity and enjoy the game if he or she hadn't experienced other games; as it stands, most people that enjoyed the films or the television show in it's heyday should probably do well to avoid this game in order to keep fond memories in their place.
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