He has the #1 rated show on the Cartoon Network, has sold over 8 million videos, attracts 30 million page views a month to his web page, and is soon to star in a major motion picture. Now in his early thirties, he shows no signs of slowing down. The loveable Great Dane, the Top Dog of canine sleuths, he is Scooby-Doo, and he has finally brought the Mystery, Inc. gang to adventure gaming.
The Learning Company has released two brand-new point-and-click adventures that stay true to the spirit of the series. Featuring an original soundtrack, along with the familiar theme song, and TV-like animation, both games feature new mysteries to be solved by Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Velma, and Daphne (the original Lara Croft). The Learning Company is promoting the games as a tool to help "research, thinking and problem-solving skills along with logical analysis and deductive reasoning." Who gives a heck about any of that educational stuff? All I know is that both games are a lot of fun!
Showdown in Ghost Town finds the super sleuths in the middle of Los Burritos, a haunted ghost town. The Faceless Rider, a ghost bandit from the past, is trying to keep visitors away from the town, and the Scooby gang attempts to find the truth behind the Faceless Rider's devious plot. There are 25 interactive areas from which to gather clues and interrogate suspects. Inventory items can be gathered and used to solve puzzles. And of course any time the gang is stumped, a Scooby snack will put them back on the right track.
The best part of the game, though, is its replayability. Every time you start anew, there are all different clues and outcomes. The suspects and the scenes you meet them in stay the same, but areas that were previously searched must be searched again as they will contain different inventory items and characters will offer different clues. In fact, each game can contain up to 35 different clues with up to seven clues per suspect, including red herrings. There are also three levels of difficulty: Spooky (easy) for ages 5-6, Spookier (medium) for ages 7-8, and Spooktacular (hard) for ages 9-10. The Spooky level provides audio clues and tips from Scrappy Doo to help the younger gamer, while the Spooktacular level provides plenty of false leads and multiple solutions to keep the advanced gamer interested. (In fact, we have played through Showdown three times, once at each level!)
Scooby Snacks, which are in short supply, are used to convince Scooby and Shaggy to enter the scarier areas of town. Extra Scooby Snacks can be collected through arcade sequences. In Showdown, you can engage in a pie fight with the Faceless Rider, and every time you cream him with a pie you are awarded an extra snack. These arcade sequences are not difficult and are reminiscent of the cartoon scenes where the characters run back and forth across the screen in a short montage.
Phantom of the Knight dares you to solve the mystery of the haunting of the Joust for Fun castle—a medieval-themed restaurant and family fun center. The Joust for Fun princess has been kidnaped by the Black Knight—the ghost of the castle's original owner—who is terrifying visitors with his fire-breathing dragon. All of the various options of Showdown are again available, but this time in a medieval setting. As before, there are five suspects—including Sir Lacksalot—and a variety of clues. Plus two medieval-theme arcade games—one based on Simon and the other an amusing update of the classic Tapper—add some welcome action sequences to the proceedings.
Both discs also contain some extra features. Besides a preview of Scooby's newest video release,Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders, there is a printable poster from the movie, a link to the Cartoon Network website, and an interesting behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the Scooby-Doo computer games.
My son Jacob and I put both of these games through the most rigorous test imaginable—could they entertain a ten-year-old who thinks like an adult and an adult who thinks like a ten-year-old, and the answer was a resounding "Ruh-roh"! If you have ever wanted to insert yourself into an episode of Scooby-Doo, then that moment has finally arrived. What more could you ask for then new mysteries, voiced by the actual actors and animation that is indistinguishable from the television show? How about some peanut butter and jelly-flavored Scooby Snacks?
Final Grade—Both Games: A
166 MHz Pentium
32 MB RAM
45 MB free hard disk space
16-bit color display
16-bit sound card