Review by MaxH

"I queued around the streets for this rush developed videogame tie-in of a straight-to-DVD rehash of an old cartoon. Surprisingly it isn't that good!"

THQ haven't impressed the gaming world with their creations so far, and the fact that this is ANOTHER cartoon license didn't raise any expectations. Luckily, it's turned out better than I expected. It's a below-average platformer with below average controls that lasts just a couple of days and looks quite ragged. It's also never much fun. But it is an improvement on the N64's disgustingly unplayable survival horror take on the franchise. Here we have something much less ambitious, no people in monster suits, no looking for clues, just a straightforward crash Bandicoot clone with a million little niggles. It's trash but..... it's a platformer, so I had to finish it.

The story is a wild one, alright! The phantom menace is rampant in cyber world, and you must save it under the guise of shaggy and Scooby, with famed lesbian icon Velma handling the game saving. Fred and Daphne are assumedly off removing their cravats and camp scarves and getting down to some business of their own (Although they do turn up on your walkie talkie to offer some pointless advice every now and then). So off you go through 14 levels (and 7 boss fights) to defeat this menace.

You start off in a level hub with a rotating, rather weedy green data stream ball (a la The Matrix) in the center of the room. It's in here that you access the fourteen levels and the fun begins! (Or not, as the case is). The problem with Scooby Doo is that it has no aim in the first place, it has NO gimmick (Veterans of the genre know that to succeed a platformer must have a gimmick) and it's just plain dull. It's slow paced and clumsily designed (Jump onto a high platform, and the camera will often forget to follow you up there. If it does you'll sometimes find the developers have forgotten to design the top of the level, leaving just blackness!), and yet it's also desperately linear (There are little things such as tiny piers which you can't go onto).

The features of the game are simple, collect Scooby snacks (100 for an extra life), extra lives, Pies (To throw at enemies) and hamburgers (for energy), walk through level killing enemies, die of boredom. No it's not quite that bad, but it does have a worrying lack of, well, anything else. There is sometimes a pit to jump over, or a few raised platforms to jump over in succession (Including - yes! - crumbling ones). But even those highlights are few in number. It's just a case of walking and throwing pies really, not too riveting when you think about it.

Of course, rather than let you play through your sloppy misery in peace, the developers have knocked the difficulty up a few notches in two ways. The first, and most prominent cheap trick from developers 'Art' is the controls. In a game that is populated by such a large amount of enemies and barely anything else, you'd think they could give you a simple hit attack or something similar. Instead, you are given a confusing pie throwing system where you must press a button to take out a pie, slowly rotate to aim and press another button to release. Aiming is a pain, and with generic Chinese warriors galloping at you three at a time, it's not too practical either.

Then again, you COULD do the arse bounce move on them (If you've played a platformer, ANY platformer, then you'll know what I'm talking about), but the awful collision detection puts a stop to THAT move being of any use. Firstly, if an enemy is near, but not near enough to hit, then you will float awkwardly in the air until you are either injured by the enemy or released from your strange suspension randomly. Secondly, there is a pin point on each enemy that must be hit with an arse bounce in order to kill it. Hit ANY other point apart from this, and you'll slide off, with a juicy bit of health lopped off to boot. Fantastic.

And this is all without mentioning the boss battles. Derivative, lengthy and stupidly dull, they drag themselves out by heaping on the unfair tricks to make up for their lackluster design. The lion boss is ridiculously easy, but to make is less so, the developers have included arrows in between rounds. One round of arrows can NOT miss you, they simply home in on you immediately and you'll lose health whether you're skilled or not. Utter dross.

Graphically, the game isn't too wretched, but it's extremely rough and unbalanced. Characters are faithfully represented, but blocky and badly put together. There are some surprisingly high quality textures in here (Some, I suspect, were stolen from Banjo Kazooie) but they are so fuzzy and over-used that the game looks rather bland. The enemies are mostly faceless humans and the game has no cartoon personality. And considering it's a corridor platformer that has to render a minimal amount of detail, it certainly does jutter along at a jumpy pace.

The game's music had little effect on me, although I remember it annoying me after a little while. The game is worth renting due to the fact it contains the entire theme tune alone, though. Voice wise, there are some nice Scoobyish lines and the voice acting is decent enough, but there's just too much of it. We already know the game is engineered for those without motor skills (Hence the mysterious shortage of jumping) but this takes it to another level. Come to a platform and your walkie talkie will buzz up saying 'Hey shaggy, looks like you'll have to jump on this!' then you must press triangle to hear shaggy's obligatory response ('Oh dear jumping. I want a sandwich' etc) then press triangle AGAIN to resume play. This doesn't stop, the retardedness continues through the entire game. Face a new enemy on level ten and you'll be told 'this enemy is real big! Throw a pie at it to get rid of it!'. Well amazing I never knew that, even thought it's what I've been doing for the LAST NINE LEVELS! Oh yes.... triangle, triangle, triangle..... resume play.

It's not a long game, fourteen levels is as short as it sounds. But with painful execution of controls and bare design, it's bound to be a little longer than you'd like it to be.

Overall, Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase is just about playable but contains no real fun at all. It has all the recognised and increasingly weary platformer cliches, yet still manages to make a mess of them all. Unless you must have a Scooby Doo game no matter what I say, there is no reason to play this at all.

Scooby Doo can do do!
+ It's playable enough
+ Decent voice acting
+ The theme tune!
+ Not bad in certain areas of the graphics

But Jimmy Carter is smarter!
- Lifeless
- Repetitive
- Badly designed levels
- Awful controls
- Stuttering frame rate
- No new ideas whatsoever
- Cheap (And not in the money sense)
- Irritating walkie talkie messages
- Short

If you like this....

Scooby Doo: Classic creep capers - N64: Worse than this but at least it has ambition. Ropey survival horror slop.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 01/11/02, Updated 01/11/02


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