By Jason Frank
As my loyal readers (and you know who you are) may have noticed, I haven't been around for a while. There's just been so much of the same ol' same ol' on the videogame scene that I decided to take a break. I resolved that I would wait on the sidelines until something truly special came along,a game that would revolutionize the medium, a game that would make me want to play games again. I'm here to tell you that Scooby Doo is not that game.
During my time away from the industry, my son has become more adept at playing games. His deductive reasoning skills and hand eye coordination have improved significantly. He's even grown quite fond of the Scooby Doo cartoons themselves. If ever there was a tailor made audience for this game, it would be my son. Unfortunately, my son's feelings towards Mystery Mayhem do not bode well for the game's success. The first level consisted mainly of running away. Every time he saw a ghost, there was nothing he could do about it except head in the opposite direction. Rather than confronting his fears, he was forced to flee from them. I thought videogames were supposed to be empowering. It does get a little better as the game progresses, but not by much.
If a game like this isn't suited to a five year old fan of the series, then I ask, who is it for? Too frustrating for the younger set and simply not engaging for the more seasoned gamer, Scooby Doo Mystery Mayhem is likely to quietly fade into oblivion.
The game isn't a complete failure, but like so much of today's art that is marketed to the masses, it just doesn't aspire to anything higher than mediocrity. By having a well established franchise, the game makers know that they will sell enough copies. From a business standpoint, attention to detail and quality doesn't really make a whole lot of sense.
The premise of the game is straight out of the television series, Scooby and his team of super sleuths have another supernatural mystery to solve. It's not a good sign when 25% of the instruction manual is dedicated to trying to sell DVDs.
The graphics work just fine. It's pretty easy to tell the difference between Shaggy and Scooby. The game has all the necessary elements of an episode but after decades of reruns, direct to video fodder and a Harry Prinze Jr. film, it's beginning to feel a little stale. I didn't have any real issues with the controls either. They are more than serviceable. The levels are adequately designed and the sound is sufficient to the task. I have to admit that my low expectations of the game went a long ways towards softening its tedium.
Now, I know that I didn't have to come out of retirement for this game. No one put a gun to my head and forced me to review it. Maybe it was a sense of duty that brought me back. Perhaps my life lacked meaning when I wasn't warning the unwary of impending mediocrity. Yeah, that must be it. Altruism, that's why I reviewed this game. I like the sound of that.