NINTENDO DS REVIEW: SCOOBY-DOO UNMASKED!

Unmasked! features some new gameplay elements not usually associated with Scooby-Doo, but are they enough? by Daemia

February 14, 2006 - You would think that somebody must be getting sick and tired of apologizing for all of the poor quality Scooby Doo video games on the market. But then again, Scooby is brought to you by the same duo that duo-handedly put an end to the golden age of cartoon animation. I'm talking about Hanna-Barbara. They brought us the Flintstones, Yogi Bear, Tom & Jerry and Scooby Doo, just to mention a few. I'm sure they wouldn't want a video game to upstage their lifetime achievements in the cartoon industry. With the release of Scooby Doo: Unmasked, William Hanna will definitely not be spinning in his grave.

Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, and all the rest of Mystery Inc. are out to solve the mysterious disappearance of Fred's eclectic cousin Jed. He works at a studio that has recently developed a series of monster costumes that give the wearer superhuman powers when used in conjunction with a substance called Mubber - which is reminiscent of like Disney's Flubber. The studio owner claims that Jed ran off with the costumes and the formula in an attempt to sell it to a rival studio. We all know that anybody related to Fred wouldn't do such a thing, so the gang takes it upon themselves to find Jed, clear his name and solve the mystery. Some things never change.

As with virtually every Scooby Doo episode the action takes place in locations such as a castle, museum and haunted theme park. The gameplay is mostly of the platform variety but there are puzzles, collectables, mini-games and the ability to transform Scooby into four different characters thanks to the magic of Mubber and the costumes. Unlike the console versions there isn't much to explore. There are some nooks and crannies that you can get into for the odd Scooby Snack but the levels are very linear and you'll always end up going where the game wants you to go. While jumping, climbing and spinning your way from platform to platform you will be on the lookout for Scooby snacks, Mubber, clues and parts of traps that you can set to catch the bad guys.

Using the collected Mubber and the costumes, Scooby can change into four different characters: a scientist, a martial artist, a flying Scooby-Bat and an archer. The scientist character initiates the Mubber-collecting mini-game. Using the stylus, you move a Mubber-collecting particle around the screen while other Mubber particles attack itself to it. You have to avoid the anti-Mubber particles that bounce around the screen. The Kung-Fu costume allows Scooby to knock enemies around while also kicking wooden planks out of the way. As the Bat-Scoob you can fly through the levels aided by fans. Where there are none he can glide long distances when he leaps from a platform. The archer can shoot plungers at enemies or shoot them at targets. By shooting them into a wall at various heights, you can scale the plungers like a ladder to reach high areas and search for more goodies. All of these costumed characters can be changed on the fly when you need them.

Scooby is not the easiest of characters to control on a platform. You've got to worry about four legs as opposed to two. To make matters worse there are some leaps of faith and there are some high ledges which makes spinning attacks and butt bouncing nearly impossible. There are no shortage of enemies on these ledges which not only seems unfair but it gets irritating since this is area is very restrictive. The collision detection system is faulty because even when you get a good shot in it doesn't always register. This isn't a fault of the touch screen, it's the fault of the programming. The touch commands at the bottom of the screen offer you a helpful array of commands, stats and communication. Their placement is very convenient.

To further break up the platforming gameplay you will find clues that Thelma will help piece together. Dusting for fingerprints is another technique you will learn. You will also lead enemies into the path of traps that Fred constructed out of items that you collected. All of these elements are well thought out but unfortunately they aren't executed very well. There are issues with clipping, collision detection and other processing problems that actually do interfere with the gameplay at times.

The backgrounds are rendered in 2D and look as good as anything seen in the animated series. The textures in the immediate 3D environments are low res and stand in contrast to the cel-shaded character models which also look as good as the show. There are some nice animated sequences that segue into some of the levels but there are no voiceovers. You will hear some Scooby yelps and groans as well as some choice cartoon sound effects. The music is perfect for the game and toggles between chilling and lighthearted.

Scooby Doo: Unmasked is a decent game but it's very short and short on replay value as well. It also has some technical issues that will definitely sour your relationship with the game in some aspect or another. For these reasons I would definitely rent this game.

Features:

  • Explore massive levels including the Harum Scare'em Museum, the Haunted Rockin' Roller Coaster, and get ready for a Shuddery Showdown in Chinatown.
  • Collect and wear costumes that give Scooby special abilities such as a Kung Fu Scooby, Bat Scooby, and Robin Hood Scooby.
  • All-new game engine featuring "contour shading" that makes the game look just like the cartoon.

By Daemia
CCC Staff Writer

Rating out of 5
Scooby-Doo Unmasked! (DS)
4.1
Graphics
For the most part the graphics look as good as the cartoon series. There are some ugly textures and some of the 3D effects look a bit lame.
2.2
Control
Lots and lots of control issues. There are leaps of faith and collision detection bugs that don't register hits.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music is great as are the sound effects. Unlike the console versions, the DS has no voice acting.
3.5
Play Value
Once the mystery is all wrapped up there's no need to unwrap it again, but the first time through will be fun for Scooby fans.
3.3
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: A2M
Pub: THQ
Released: Dec 2006
Players: 1
Review by Daemia

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best