Jinkies! Tim Curry guest stars in quite possibly his greatest performance since the Grand High Wizard in The Worst Witch. Can Scooby rescue the gang from the Mastermind's evil clutches?
Let me be honest right now - I never was really a fan of Scooby-Doo. After thoroughly playing Night of 100 Frights, though, I'll have to admit that I've been converted. After seeing nothing but the antics of Daphne, Fred, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby when playing my GameCube (not to mention some of the most bizarre monsters I've ever seen - you rock, Space Kook!), I can safely say that this game is a lot of fun. Let's check out why.
In typical Scooby-Doo fashion, Mystery, Inc. is heading off to a place to solve a mystery. In this case, it's Mystic Manor to meet Daphne's friend, Holly. She lets the gang know that her uncle, Professor Alexander Graham, has vanished without a trace, and none of the locals will help her search the Manor because it's haunted. So, the gang (except for Scooby and Shaggy) enter the mansion, and are promptly kidnapped. Shaggy is lured into a trap with Scooby Snacks, leaving Scoob to fend for himself and rescue everyone!
Once you get past the opening sequence, you'll be in the area with the Mystery Machine, which acts as a main hub to all other areas. There's also a Warp Gate (be sure to activate those as soon as you see them), but when you first start the game, you'll only be able to access a training area and the Manor. After entering the Manor, you'll hear Holly calling out to you - with a bit of searching, you'll find her, and she'll let you know that everyone was kidnapped.
Then, it's just a matter of progressing through areas as far as you can, and looking for powerups to open up new areas to you. Unfortunately, sometimes it can be really confusing as to where you're supposed to go next, and if you look at your map, there aren't any sections highlighted to tell you where you're supposed to go. At one point I got stuck because I'd reached really far into an area, but couldn't go any further because I hadn't gotten the plunger pickup that I had missed when I was in another area previously.
Every once in a while, to break up the puzzle solving and collecting (and oh yes, there is collecting), you'll encounter a boss monster. While most monsters you encounter will merely be drones (such as the Ghost Diver, the Witch Doctor and the Creeper), there are a couple of fiendish ghouls that are bosses, and they include their own theme song. Yes - theme song. The Mastermind's theme is particularly cool. While not particularly tough (although the fact that you have infinite lives DOES help), the bosses are a great diversion and help to break up the monotony of collecting Scooby Snacks. Not to mention that every cutscene in this game is a real treat (PUN).
The graphics in Scooby-Doo are a mixed bag. While the levels themselves are nicely done (look at Mystic Manor with its possessed windows to see what I mean), the characters seem to be pretty bland and low on polygons, which is really noticable in closeup views, such as in the cutscenes.
I understand that the characters are from cartoons, and Scooby-Doo was not exactly renowned for its detail, but surely the characters could look better than they currently do. Unless the camera is zoomed out, they can look downright bad.
But what really, really makes up for the graphics is the top quality sound. This game is incredible - Heavy Iron Studios have gone to a great deal of effort to make sure that this game is dead on to the original Scooby-Doo cartoon. Every Hanna-Barbera sound effect in the book seems to have made it in - even the canned laughter! That's right, sneak with the bunny slippers and all of a sudden you'll hear a group of people laughing - brilliant. And Scooby has a comment for everything, from "Reepers, it's the Reeper!" when the Creeper's nearby to "Ro no!" when he looses all his courage. The voice acting from other characters are fantastic - not to mention that Frank Welker, the original Fred, is still performing. Joining him in the game is Tim Curry, who does a deliciously evil Mastermind - and he sings his own theme song!
The music from Night of 100 Frights is also great. It features a lot of recognizable themes from the Scooby-Doo cartoon, along with original themes for certain areas like the Mystery Machine. And did I mention that every boss villain has his own theme song? If you miss it during the boss fight, you can listen to it later in the Monster Gallery.
To enhance the replayability of Night of 100 Frights, if you collect all the Scooby Snacks in one area, you unlock a picture from the picture gallery that shows you concept art and how the game was made. (The only other reason to collect Scooby Snacks is to unlock certain doors, and there's plenty of leeway for that.) It's a nice incentive to finish collecting all the Snacks, but sometimes it can be quite tiresome. There are also Monster Tokens for each villain for you to collect - if you collect these, the villain will appear in the Monster Gallery. If you look at the monster's profile, it'll show you which episode it appeared in, along with a bit of show trivia for you - for example, did you know that Scrappy-Doo first appeared in the episode 'The Scarab Lives'? Now you can avoid that episode like the plague! See, it's not only fun, but useful too.
The only other complaint that I can think of is the sometimes awkward camera. It is clearly NOT designed for backtracking, as if you walk towards the screen, you can't see what's in front of you, and you'll sometimes bump into an enemy or fall down a pit. The best way to describe the camera is like Luigi's Mansion - it is stationary, but walls become transparent so you can see what's happening. It's not a bad camera - in fact, in most instances, it's great - but when it does play up, it's terrible.
Overall, Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights is a great game. If you're a good game player, you'll probably finish the game in no time flat, and won't want to collect any of the extras. Younger players will love this game, especially seeing that although you have infinite lives, it's still fairly difficult. I highly recommend at least a rent to see if it's to your liking - and to help Scooby solve the mystery and find those meddling kids. Not to mention the great Scooby-Doo techno remix that plays during the end credits. And yes, the clues at the end ARE all in the game - keep an eye out and see if you can solve the mystery first!