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Scooby-Doo!  First Frights Box Art
Torus Games
Warner Bros.

Scooby-Doo! First Frights

Imagine, for a moment, being able to play through interactive versions of Scooby-Doo! cartoon episodes. Now imagine playing through those episodes using a game engine nearly identical to LEGO Star Wars or LEGO Batman, but with Scooby Snacks instead of LEGO bits and cartoon characters instead of LEGO characters. That, in a nutshell, is what lies within Scooby-Doo! First Frights, and while it is a brief adventure, it also offers a nice amount of fun for young fans of the series.

It's no overstatement Scooby-Doo! First Frights is a clone of the LEGO games, as this game feels and plays very much like them. Scooby-Doo! is an action-adventure platformer that drops players into discreet levels, with the object being to solve puzzles, collect Scooby Snacks, and fight enemies. A single character can swap between two characters, or a second player can drop in or drop out of the game. Each character -- Fred, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and, of course, the titular dog Scooby-Doo -- has his or her own unique attacks and abilities, ranging from Fred's ability to pull blocks to Velma's expertise with computer consoles.

Another nod to the LEGO games comes in the game's light difficulty level. Puzzles are pretty simple, enemies are pretty easy, and bosses are impressive in bark but not terribly taxing in bite. Death penalties are also generally light; a fall results in a small loss of health, while the total loss of health results in little more than losing a few Scooby Snacks. Given that health-replenishing receptacles are generously distributed throughout the game, death will be a rarity for a seasoned gamer. Given the kid-targeted audience of this game, this is probably a good thing.

Scooby-Doo! First Frights Screenshot

The oft-mentioned Scooby Snacks represent one of the cornerstones of the game's extras. Just as bits translate into extras in LEGO games, so do Scooby Snacks translate into extras here. This game does not seem to offer quite the robust selection of extras as LEGO games, though, as most of the purchaseables in this game are just alternate costumes for the main characters. (To be fair, these costumes often embue the wearer with different abilities.) Scoring certain numbers of Scooby Snacks or collecting Scooby-Doo medals throughout the levels do unlock more collectibles, but they don't do much other than appear inside the gang's hub world, the clubhouse.

Despite being a Wii title, there are no IR or waggle controls to be found. Everything is handled via face buttons, and in fact the game can be played with the classic controller or just the Wii Remote held sideways if desired. The Nunchuck and Remote setup seems to work best. The controls, to their credit, are tight and responsive.

Scooby-Doo! First Frights Screenshot

From a presentation angle, the game deserves props for delivering a pretty polished experience. Despite sharing its SKU with PlayStation 2, the game has a clean cartoon look and features some nice destructible environments, smooth animations, clever enemies, and nicely-rendered cutscenes. The music is the typically haunting ambient fare but it works well. The voice acting is top-notch and features some recognizable names, including Frank Welker, who is both the famed voice behind Megatron in the original Transformers cartoon and the eternal voice of Scooby himself. The sound effects are the sort of goofy over-the-top fare, and they generally work well. One audio aggravation is the game's audience laughter, which occurs after Scooby or Shaggy do something funny and is completely contrived; fortunately, it can be turned off in the options menu.

Scooby-Doo! First Frights offers a decent amount of content, but it doesn't last terribly long. The game packs four full-fledged “episodes” into the game, each with a unique mystery villain that is revealed at the end. Running through all four episodes won't take a seasoned gamer more than six to eight hours, but since the gameplay gets a little repetitive down the home stretch, that game length winds up being about right. Extras and unlockables add a little more time to that proposition, but the replay value isn't all that high.

Scooby-Doo! First Frights Screenshot

The game plays pretty well solo, and for the most part the AI is competent. In fact, unlike the LEGO games, the AI-controlled other character actually does damage to enemies and is an asset in the field. There is one exception, though: during one of the levels we encountered an AI glitch that prohibited progression through the game in the solo mode, and only by activating a player to the second character were we able to proceed.

Said co-op is a linchpin of this style of game, and as stated before, the game offers a drop-in / drop-out version of it. As mentioned earlier, the game offers drop-in / drop-out co-op. Nintendojo play-tested the mode, and it works as well as one would expect to, albeit with one caveat: the camera only stretches so far between the two playable characters, and in some of the more complex platforming sequences, this can lead to a lot of confusion and senseless deaths. Fortunately, the game doesn't penalize this too hard, but it can be an aggravation.

Scooby-Doo! First Frights is a licensed title that takes its cue, perhaps too unabashedly, from an already-popular franchise. Yet it deserves props for not only doing it well, but also delivering some nice storylines through its license. Fans of the Scooby-Doo! universe will find this a nice pick-up, especially those on the younger end.

final score 7.0/10

Staff Avatar Joshua Johnston
Staff Profile | Email
"Round 1! Fight!"

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