Scooby-Doo! Unmasked

  • Release: September 12, 2005
  • Developer: A2M
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Genre: Action

Scooby-Doo! Unmasked

Jinkies! A decent Scooby game?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 4, 2005
I don't know why I always assumed a Scooby-Doo video game would just inherently suck. There's no reason why a couple of stoners, a pair of lesbians and... uh, Fred couldn't make for an awesome game, but I just figured it would have to include those less-than-wholesome rumored archetypes for the characters everyone knows and loves for it to entertain me.


Well, consider me entertained, and without a single pot reference or girl/girl heavy petting occurrence in sight. In fact, there's something pure and wholesome about Scooby-Doo! Unmasked that I just get from most platformers these days. Part of it is that they often just plain suck, but the source material was really handled with care here, and the result is an average platformer that's made better by some familiar characters.

The game begins with a remade intro straight from the old cartoon series using in-game models and more relevant bits of the game, but the original recording (or one that sounds like it anyway) of the actual song. We quickly learn that Fred's cousin Jed got a new gig working at Monsterous Fright and Magic, a special effects studio that just happens to be on the cutting edge of creature design thanks to a substance called Mubber that can literally make anything.

Mubber is a dream product; it's soy-based, so it's tasty, dissolves under ultra-violet light, and when wrapped around animatronics frames can make simple robotic skeletons look all kinds o' creepy. Problem is, when the gang finally arrives at MFM, they find that not only has Jed disappeared, but the proprietor, Stanton Winslow (voiced by the mayor of Quahog himself, Adam We(st)), says he scooted with the Mubber formula too.

With mystery hanging in the air, the gang sets off to solve the mystery of who exactly is the Mubber lugger, and what happened to Jed. To do so, the Mystery Inc. five will have to explore a handful of worlds, each of them rife with collectables, and hub-based. Finding a clue somewhere in the hub section usually opens up a separate world to explore, filled with more clues which unlock more levels.

The clues themselves are usually rather easy to find - or at least the ones needed to solve the mini-mystery of the world the crew is in. All the other clues essentially unlock props or sections of the hub world that contain ingredients that can be handed to Shaggy to whip into a meal that nets Scoob an extra hit point. As the points grow, it takes more food to create a dish, so heavy exploration is encouraged.

It also means there's plenty of breaking crates and barrels and whatnot, which provides a nice bit of interaction with all the levels (though it would have been nice to see more breakable goodies). Most of the time breaking things either gets you a small bit of Mubber, or Scooby Snacks, 100 of which will give Scoob back a bit of life (you can also find full boxes that do the same). The Mubber is used at machines scattered throughout the level to either be turned into food for Shaggy's meals or can be used to imbue Scooby with powers via a suit.

The suits are what makes the game more than just a standard platformer (though the series has finally opened up into three dimensions, with the occasional 2D bits from the older games); Scooby can wear a kung-fu suit (which allows for some slick moves and a charged-up fireball), a bat costume (which allows him to glide and float up on hot air jets), and a Robin Hood set of duds that gives him the ability to hit far-off targets and enemies with plunger arrows. All of the suits' powers are used in some very basic puzzles or boss battles, which is a nice touch.

Despite the suits helping to mix things up, the platforming bits are really what sells the game. Developer A2M (that's Artificial Mind and Movement for those curious) crafted some extremely solid levels, carefully limiting where the suits can be used while slowly increasing the difficulty curve on a nice, smooth incline. There are a few moments where the camera pulls to the side for a few side-scrolling parts, and the angle makes judging depth a bit difficult and a little frustrating.

The game manages some solid, if less than overwhelming visuals. The framerate is nearly always perfectly smooth, but then the camera rarely looks all that far ahead. Colored lighting is used heavily, but it's never in massive supersaturated pools, so it all looks rather solid. The game does use a very basic cel shading technique, and it's pulled off perfectly.

The core of the game's personality, however, comes from the superlative animation the art team cooked up. There are some subtle body movements in the cutscenes that help add weight to the vocal performances, but it's actually the game itself where the real animation shines. Scooby gallops along, his whole body contorting from side to side, he skitters up ledges after barely making a jump. While wearing the kung-fu suit, normal jumps get a little added crane kick-style arms outstretched leap. The way everyone moves in the game - particularly the star, just shows how talented and respectful the team was.

The audio's a little less impressive. It's still good - effects are lifted right from the cartoon, voices sound spot-on (and in some cases they are the original actors), and the performances for the characters are awesome. It's just, well, the music's rather tame. It's not bad, just sort of hangs there, not really doing much more than cruising along. It's nicely themed, I suppose, but it doesn't add anything to the mixture. Then again, it doesn't really hurt anything either, so it's not a total bust.

Nothing about Unmasked is a bust. Sure, it's nothing groundbreaking or even all that original, but it is good, solid platforming, a loving tribute to the original material, and best of all, a lot of fun. Best probably for kids (or big kids like me that get all pissy when a game's too hard too fast), but there's stuff here for the adults to enjoy too (the laugh track during the cutscenes is amusing). Even if there aren't any sexy deviancies taking place.
The Verdict
7.0

Solid game, nothing new. Nothing more to say, really.

8.0Graphics:

Minimalist, but it fits with the show. Nice framerate most of the time to boot.

8.0Sound:

Blah-ish music, but the voices and sound effects are cartoon-perfect.

9.0Control:

Save for perhaps a few of the bits where you have to grab onto hooks, the controls feel night and tight, perfectly responsive.

7.0Gameplay:

Okay, so it's your most basic platformer. It's still entertaining, even if it doesn't have an original bit anywhere in sight.