Is It About My Cube?

Posted on Aug 6th 2011 at 02:32:40 PM by (lisalover1)
Posted under Gamecube, THQ, Platformer, Cartoon Network, Licensed, Review, Classic Gaming



There is something so timeless and charming about a 16-bit platformer that makes them so cherished to gamers. The bright colors, simple goals, and addictive gameplay cement themselves into our memory. However, the 16-bit era is long past, and gaming as an industry has moved on. However, that does not mean that their unforgettable spirit has passed with it. It still lives on to this day in newer games, just with a fresh coat of paint. I am happy to report that Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights effectively carries the spirit of a 16-bit platformer. Even more shocking, considering it is a licensed game, which, as I have previously mentioned, have a less than sterling reputation. Very few of these games ever achieve greatness, mainly because there is little reason for the developer to make a truly great experience when its intent is just for cashing in on the licensed property. But, it is a bit more common for a licensed game to be "pretty good", notable, and worth playing. Scooby-Doo is one of those games, so let us examine the how and why.

Gameplay

Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights is in many respects, a standard 3D platformer that doesn't bring anything new to the table in terms of gameplay. But, that may be its greatest strength. It plays off the hackneyed gimmicks of every other platformer ever, but in an endearing and almost referential way that makes them work spectacularly. Any given game mechanic from a 2D platformer has probably found its way in some form into this game. Even a couple 3D platformer elements have made their way in, such as the "Collect-A-Thon" staple that requires you to collect a certain amount of an item in order to progress to new areas; in this case, Scooby Snacks. This is a game that is far and away greater than the sum of its parts. Because of its mechanic recycling, it really does feel like a 16-bit platforming game in that it has that intangible charm and personality that makes it so fun to play. It isn't really something I can describe accurately, other than anyone who played video games during the 16-bit era will know immediately what I am talking about upon playing the game. Bosses with attack patterns to memorize, permanent power-ups, backtracking, the works. Heck, I don't want to give the game too much credit here, but with the game almost plays like a watered-down "Metroidvania" game, with new power-ups attained after major events that allow you to access new areas in previous zones to get more items, as well as the fairly open-ended level structure. If the idea of a game with the underpinnings of a Metroidvania with the style of a generic platformer, then I would definitely check this game out. Really, the only way to describe this game accurately is to use other games and genre conventions as reference points. It has some parts that are open-environment 3D areas akin to early 3D platformers such as Super Mario 64, whereas most of the game just takes place on linear, 2D-based segments where you have to get from A to B, with several distractions and branching paths along the way. One more thing I have to mention is that the power-ups in the game are actually quite entertaining. You get a lampshade and a pair of slippers for sneaking past sleeping enemies, spring shoes for double-jumping, etc. It is a nice touch that makes the game more enjoyable.

Gameplay: 8.5/10



Story

Once again, nothing quite special here, but the story is at least better explained than in most games in the genre. Basically, Scooby and his friends are called to investigate a disappearance at a place called Mystic Manor. Upon arriving, they find out that a villain named The Mastermind has rounded up every villain that the gang has ever faced into once place in an attempt to stop them for good.  Soon, everyone except Scooby is kidnapped, and he has to go rescue them all before The Mastermind can finish his plan. Standard far for the show, but where the game really shines is its presentation of the story. The game never tries to be anything more than what Scooby-Doo should be; silly, basic slapstick humor. In this way, the developers absolutely nailed it. Nothing ever goes over the top and it rarely feels underwhelming, so it really feels like you're watching an episode of the cartoon. The cutscenes are a natural extension of the rest of the gameplay, running with the pervasive humor of the game and making it work very well. There's not much else I can say here that won't be addressed later, so let us move on.

Story: 8/10



Sound

The soundtrack from Night of 100 Frights is exactly what you expect it to be, if you have ever seen the show: Effective use of various string instruments, Trombones, Keyboards, etc. to create some lighthearted and spooky audio that comes off as completely appropriate and quite charming. The only thing that I could think of being analogous to it in other games is some of the songs from Banjo-Kazooie. There are unfortunately only a few tracks in the game, so you will hear them re-used a lot throughout different areas and levels. Fortunately, said tracks are unobtrusive and pleasant enough to listen to that you probably won't notice. Still, some diversity would have been nice. One thing that I absolutely have to mention about this game is something that I found to be an unprecedented and wonderful addition: The laugh track. Yes, Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights has a laugh track. It doesn't add anything to the gameplay, but its inclusion was a stroke of genius on the developers' part. They went out of their way to ensure the game was for all intents and purposes, an interactive episode of the show. There's not much to it; whenever Scooby does something funny, the off-screen "audience" can be heard laughing. It was a cute addition to the game that was certainly welcome.

Sound: 8/10



Graphics

Don't expect much in the way of eye-candy in Night of 100 Frights, or you will be sorely disappointed. Being a relatively early Gamecube game from a newer 3rd-party developer, it isn't too much of a surprise. The graphics are not pretty, but they only really become noticeably so during the cutscenes, where the disconnect between the game and the TV show becomes apparent through low-quality 3D models and slow animation. This wouldn't be a problem for most licensed video games, but for a game that prides itself on its faithfulness to the spirit [no pun intended] of the source material, it breaks whatever immersion you had in the game during these segments. A little more time spent improving the graphical fidelity with smoother models and more believable animation would have gone a long way in making an already very good game a great game. As for the aesthetics of the game, everything is focused and appropriate for a Scooby-Doo game. Levels take place in suitable environments, set pieces are custom to each area you enter, and the backgrounds, while not much to look at, do give a nice sense of depth to an otherwise 2-dimensional platformer. The only complaint I have in this aspect is that a good chunk of enemies are recycled throughout every area of the game, breaking the trend of different enemies in different levels. Other than that, everything in the game looks just right for Scooby-Doo.

Graphics: 6/10



Extras/Value

There's really very little in  the way of bonus content in the game, save for the Scooby-Doo movie trailer and some Easter Eggs, such as different textures are used if the game is played on certain holidays, including costumes for Scooby during gameplay. Some unlockable content would have been nice to enhance replay value a smidgen. The game is a bit on the expensive side at Gamestop, as well, where it is currently selling for $10. I was able to find my copy for $3, so I would recommend looking elsewhere to pick it up. It is a good game, and I would definitely say you should pick it up eventually, but I would probably wait until you can find it for $5 or less. There is a good ~15 hours of gameplay in Night of 100 Frights, so it is on par with a good number of platformers. If you can find it cheap enough, it is worth your money.

Extras/Value: 6/10





Overall

Make no mistake, Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights is a fine game. In fact, I believe that with a bit of spit-polish on the graphics and some padding to the length and extra content of the game probably would have elevated this game to the status of a hidden gem. In terms of game mechanics, does pretty much everything right, despite not bringing any original ideas to the table, which is definitely the game's strongest point. The rock-solid aesthetics of the game really bring it together as everything a Scooby-Doo game should be. The tight controls, simple gameplay, and humorous content are sure to make you smile. If you are looking for a comfortingly-familiar platformer for the Gamecube that still holds its own when held up against its contemporaries, then this might be right up your alley.





Overall: 7.75/10

This is lisalover1, and I swear I saw the Mystery Machine once when driving on the highway.


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Comments
 
I think that's a fair score. Night of 100 Frights is my favorite Scooby game. It does nothing new, but it still manages to be fun. It's decently long for a kid's game, and collecting all the stuff increases the length of the fun. Compared to other licensed games, Night of 100 Frights is stellar. I love that they based the game off of Best of the New Scooby Doo and Where Are You, Scooby Doo?, instead of that crappy What's New Scooby Doo? Don Knotts having a guest character is a real plus for me.
 
Might have to keep my eye out for this one Tongue

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