Saturday Morning cartoons are a part of almost everyone’s life. It’s just one of those things that’s a universal constant and get’s people of all ages from all walks of life on a level playing field of interest. We have all at some point sat around and just drifted away into a mixture of memory and blissful reminiscing either on our own or those late night chats with groups of friends or work colleagues about the one’s we loved the most from those days before we learned what the phrase ‘Council Tax’ was. Now some choices are obvious, a few people will always throw a complete leftfield choice into the mix and wow everyone and there’s also iconic shows that not only transcend age and generation gaps but also leap across entertainment mediums in order to become household names.
Scooby Doo is one such character, in fact in truth it’s more than that because even though the show is focused around that lovable but slightly useless dog his entire supporting cast are just as famous and adored. Based on the concept of turn of the 20th century small groups of teenagers detective style adventure novels and comics.
Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne and Fred spend each 30 episode investigating mysterious events with their natural personality attributes. Daphne and Fred are very much the leaders of the group each as capable as each other however from the cartoon shows perspective seem to very much be kept in the background as they piece together clues and eventually confront the police with their conclusions. Velma overall is the really smart one, often seen as the ignored member she goes about her business by more often than not tagging along with Shaggy and Scooby Doo himself because they are the more inquisitive members and often through good natured mistakes and not paying attention to danger unveil vital clues that they themselves simply don’t see. While Shaggy and Scooby on their own probably couldn’t solve anything their actions allow the others to get to the bottom of things.
After the intro ends you begin your adventure located in the Ski resorts lobby. A roaring fire, reception desk, main flight of stairs and several exits are located here and suddenly the bottom of the screen is filled with words indicating actions. From this point on it’s all point and click as you, the gamer, promptly steer shaggy and Scooby in the direction you wish them to go and what to do once they get there. Open doors, pick up items, combine with this and that, it’s all standard fare and that’s what makes the game instantly playable. If you have ever played something like Monkey Island then this will be a walk in the park for you. A fun walk though, with no actual dog poo to step in or pick up.
It’s inside the main meat of the game that the genius of the whole package shows itself though as it just feels like the cartoon show from the golden days. Remember those classic moments when the two lovable idiots Scooby and shaggy would walk through a door and then a ghost would follow them and this would repeat until they were each passing through other doors all at the same time? Well it happens here and very early on. It’s actually one of the very first puzzles that you have to solve as a combination of going through doors in a certain way will open up an area you need to go into to get an item to use in another area etc. Now normally I might find this dull however seeing Scooby Doo panic and the whole run animation is great, it really is.
Talking to hotel staff and other characters set in this spooky resort, finding clues about why a ghost of an ancient native American seems to be haunting the hotel continues for a good while however due to the nature of the story and experience with point ‘n’ click adventures I had this all wrapped up inside 40 minutes. Now this may seem short but there is another adventure and also my mind is geared into puzzle solving so I’m naturally good at these kinds of games so I wont hold that against it. It’s also important to note that games seem to fly by the more you enjoy them because you persevere more so again any negative regarding length is in small parts a positive at heart.
The second adventure is set as the game heads off to have a break at a funfair amusement park, Scooby and Shaggy are looking forward to the hotdog stands and the other three want to check out the rollercoaster. On arrival everything is completely dead and there’s nobody even selling entry tickets which leads the gang into setting off to see what’s going on. Scooby and Shaggy are left at the main entrance to see if they can find food and answers to where everyone is. More superb presentation screens are cut into this sequence as we see a mad clown type character on top of the rollercoaster breaking it and laughing (with actual voice samples) and also Scooby Doo laughing at certain things, once more with a cool sample.
Another 40 minutes or so later and this was also done as another classic style story cut almost from the cartoon show itself takes you on an adventure of mystery and laughs, I’m trying very hard not to even remotely go into any form of detail as this is such a niche game the chances are most people reading this have never ever actually played it. Because everything hinders around the actual tale it would be wrong to go into specifics, needless to say if you love the cartoon you will enjoy this immensely.
With a cartoon series that still runs to this day and more merchandise than most would actually be aware of Scooby and Co. have had a massive amount of videogame adventures. From very old 8Bit computers such as the ZXSpectrum through the 16-Bit Golden Era and even right upto the last generation of Wii and DS fans of slapstick comedy dogs have always had something to enjoy outside of the TV show. Most of these games take a platform genre in order to convey the adventure however one very special game only ever released on the Sega Megadrive and only in North America managed to absolutely nail the way the cartoon worked while delivering a videogame that was worthy of the name.
From the game packaging to the moment you boot up the game itself on your trusty 16-Bit wonder console (with me via the use of an adaptor because I ain’t filing down my console for anyone or anything - lol) this screams authenticity. The art on the cover is absolutely astounding and really conveys the Hannah-Barbera style perfectly with all manner of crazy slapstick actions on it. Such glorious use of vivid colours and facial expressions was the hallmark of their style and it beams through like a lighthouse keeping ships safe in the night. Similarly the actual game itself begins with a splendid rendition of the main Scooby Doo theme so you know… Win!
It’s from here where after a myriad of presentation screens with the developer and other assorted copyright notices appear that you are then presented with a fantastic screen asking you to select from two unique adventures for the team. This in itself is almost unheard of for a cartridge based 16-bit videogame and the first time I saw this it blew my away. Most point ’n’ click adventures are simply one story affairs but not here, this time you get to have fun over two scenarios, Blakes Hotel and Ha Ha Carnival. The screen itself is very well animated with lightning and animated Scooby paw indicating what choice you are selecting. There is also a sound test which is quite cool but a ton of Megadrive games had this so it’s not entirely earth shattering news.
First up is Blake’s Hotel and after selecting this the Scooby Mobile is seen trundling along the road in order to give an introduction to the scene, classic nod to how the cartoon show operated, this is a win! As the music changes you are then treated to numerous screens of the gang discussing what is going on and why you are going there (Holiday Ski Trip). This sets the scene nicely and also really shows off the presentation and design levels superbly and I won’t lie, had me hooked before the game even began. As the story continues it turns out Daphne’s uncles hotel is suffering with low guest numbers as a ghost is scaring everyone away, upon arrival it’s decided that the team will get to the bottom of it all, after all there’s important skiing to be done!
Graphically this is as close as anyone could ever get to honouring the show’s unique and distinct style, large sprites with massive amounts of colour and superbly detailed backgrounds will really give your eyes a full on Scooby Snack Treat. There are minor grumbles in that sometimes objects you can interact with can be hard to spot meaning on a few instances the whole wave the cursor over everything had to occur, annoying but understandable. Animation is stunning and presentation is first class, it really is an absolute gem from a graphics point of view.
The sound packs a bit of a punch with several cool themes however it would be nice to be able to have had more tunes per adventure to stop repetition kicking in. Sound effects are fantastic with voice samples and other assorted screams etc and for a Megadrive game it’s superbly well done and due huge praise. Be warned though, running this through emulation sometimes gives off this annoying as hell horn sound over the main theme. It is very short, a good gamer will fly through this in about 2 hours or so and when it’s done there’s no reason to ever go back and do it again, there’s no unlocks or secrets to speak of . The thing is that it’s based around a cartoon show for kids and honestly a young kid would probably struggle with this one so it makes for a superb family moment with the old and young taking turns.
What’s here looks fantastic, sounds great and plays like a dream, the 3 buttons on the pad work perfectly for the actions required and it’s crazy to think that this is so unique on the system. After seeing a point ‘n’ click adventure done so well you would think others would have jumped on the bandwagon. Maybe because of the game being released way past the systems prime meant there was no more time however I see no reason another adventure could have been released, this time maybe with 3 or 4 stories to really pad out the overall content. Still like the show itself it’s a bite sized treat for everyone. It takes you back to simpler days and puts a smile on your face for all the right reasons, an adventure that takes as much time as you, the gamer, wants it to have. I had a blast playing it and I think you may too.
Verdict:- It’s not Monkey Island or Day Of The Tentacle but who cares? Not me, because I get to control two of my most favourite characters of all time around a videogame that looks, feels and plays like my Saturday morning specials when I was young.
While the games have gotten better over time from a graphics and sound point of view nothing in this franchise has ever replicated the feel of the show like this Megadrive game did. A genuine slice of retro wonder that although far too short is also way too much fun.
Cue Scooby impersonation… Rooby Rooby Roo!
Second Opinion:- I remember a time when games used to get ripped apart because they were too short, I know this as fact because mine got slaughtered because of it. Not even remotely fair! And mine loops so zero logic Mr 1980's reviewer
I happen to agree with Megs on this game however I can't help but feel slightly miffed that it's all over so soon. It's like being told it's your birthday and although you get presents nobody remembers the cake. It's all lovely and pretty and if you like cartoons about stupid dogs and dumb humans then you will find fun, lots of it... For a tiny amount of time. If the mighty Transbot get's a kickin' because of length then i'm gonna judge this by the exact same logic... Ner!
Transbot Scores:- 7 out of 10