Scooby-Doo! Unmasked

Format: PS2

4 005209 068987
Age Restrictions: 3+
16 September 2005

Ruh-roh! Fred's cousin, Jed, is nowhere to be found! His animatronic monsters have gone haywire and are attacking everyone in sight! It's up to Scooby-Doo and Mystery, Inc. to stop the creepy costumed creatures, unmask the mystery and find Jed before it's too late. Could Jed be the prime suspect? Zoinks! Get me a Scooby-Snack...!

Scooby-Doo! has to be about the most used cartoon character in video game history. From the very start it's obvious that Scooby-Doo! Unmasked is not going to be anything like previous Scooby-Doo! games. In fact, it looks like it might be half good. The game opens with a computer animated version of the Scooby-Doo! opening credits that we all know and love. While not fantastic (it borrows a little too heavily from the original TV version) it's still a lot better than the awful attempt that appeared in Mystery Mayhem. It was also interesting to see that monsters from the game were slotted in to this segment.

As the game started proper I realised that this was pretty good... No, wait, better than good. This was really entertaining. The team behind Unmasked should be proud of what they've managed to achieve here - a good solid platform game that uses the Scooby-Doo! characters better than any console game to date.

It really is like a Scooby-Doo! cartoon mystery - something that other Scooby games have failed to capture. You play as the famous canine and must run around each level gathering clues (which when shown to Velma unlock other areas of each level). You can also collect Scooby snacks and pieces of mubber. This is soya based product that can be formed into any shape (and it even tastes good). Mubber can be used to feed machines that will then give you a special costume that also give you different moves (more on that later), or other machines that give you an edible item (that you can then give to Shaggy, to turn into a meal, in order to increase your energy). And then, at the end of the level when you have defeated the Boss, Velma asks some questions about the crime committed and you must go through your collected clues to offer her the answer. If you've collected the right clues, and you selected the right clues to Velma's questions, then the baddie is unmasked and you can see who the mystery monster is.

Each level is packed full of various monsters, all of which are animatronic robots that are being controlled by a mystery person. There are plenty of amusing little gags as well. These include suits of armour that watch you as you move around; monsters popping out of doors; Jack-in-the-boxes that hide in amongst other boxes and give you a fright; and monters, painted on bits of wood, that pop out of the walls. And the fact that you can, at various stages in the game, change into a different costume (Kung-Fu, Ninja, batdog and Robin Hood) adds a little variety to your characters moves.

As platformers go, there's nothing outrageously original here... but as a game that kids will easily get into and enjoy, this hits the nail on the head. While the first level is pretty good fun (China Town), it is the second level, set in a spooky theme park, that really sees this game bringing all the thrills and spills of the animated TV show onto your console. The third level, set in a museum, is not quite as much fun, but is entertaining enough. It's a shame that more wasn't made of the prehistoric and medieval sections in the third level. It's also good to see that once you open a new section in each level a line of Scooby snacks leads you to your destination. This saves a lot of time wandering around trying to work out where you have to go.

Now before you rush out to snap this up... you have to bear in mind that this game is really aimed at the younger player. Most adults will find this a little too easy. Sadly, due to the fact that there are only three levels, even the most novice of gamers will be able to finish his game over a solid weekend of playing. But, you can still go back to previous levels and collect all the items you've missed. While that's true of the majority of platform games, Unmasked actually makes you want to go back and collect all the items, as there are areas that you will want to explore, but are inaccessible to you until you find those hidden clues.

Also, did I hear Adam West (Batman in the campy '60s series) doing one of the voices?

This is the closest yet to starring in your very own Scooby-Doo! cartoon adventure. My only concern is that Scooby fans will have been so badly burnt in the past that they'll avoid this game without giving it a chance.

Nick Smithson

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