Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Scooby-Doo: Unmasked

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Electronic Theatre Image            When Scooby-Doo: Unmasked was handed to me for review, I must admit I assumed playing it would be less fun than getting shot – in the face. I mean, it just screams “by the numbers multi-format 3D Platformer” to me. But, I thought, it is published by THQ, who currently have an impeccable reputation at Electronic Theatre for their previous efforts earlier in the year, including the hilarious and very well  received console title Destroy All Humans! and the sublime Real-Time-Strategy PC title Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War, so it couldn’t be that tragic, could it?             As mentioned above, Scooby-Doo: Unmasked is a 3D Platform title – having taken more Electronic Theatre Imagethan a little inspiration from the Crash Bandicoot franchise – in which you take control of the famous mutt Scooby-Doo and try to solve the mystery of the disappearance of Fred’s cousin Jed and the top-secret Mubber formula. Being a 3D Platform title, the controls are quite simple. Movement is controlled via the Analogue Stick, whilst Jumping is controlled by a press of the A Button and a Double Jump is possible by tapping A again while airborne. The obligatory Spin Attack is activated by the B Button while X initiates a more powerful slide attack. The R Trigger centralizes the camera and Y toggles the on-screen information. Scooby-Doo: Unmasked has three main Worlds, each comprising of three Levels and a Boss Battle. Each world has a HUB in which you must find the entrances to Levels and various collectables by gathering clues in the traditional fashion pioneered by Super Mario64. Despite this, the game plays through in a fairly straight forward manner; Levels are played in a set order, with each Level having a clue for you to find that enables entry into the next. I use the term “find” quite loosely as inElectronic Theatre Image all cases this essential clue is placed directly in your path. There are also bonus clues to find, which allow passage to certain useful items hidden in the HUB. After the third Level of a World is completed, Velma will give you the opportunity to solve the Worlds mystery by selecting the correct clue to answer her questions. If you answer three questions correctly you will solve the mystery and the Boss Battle will become available. The game also has occasional sub-games such as racing down waterslides and shooting down targets in a bi-plane which offer a welcome change from the regular Platforming. Throughout the levels there are five main collectables, the aforementioned clues, and recipe ingredients, Scooby Snacks, presumably not of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals variety, trap pieces and Mubber. Recipe ingredients take the form of various food stuffs that can be used at Shaggy’s Porta-Kitchen to increase Scooby’s hit points – which are displayed in the form of medal-esque dog-tags in the top left of the screen. Scooby Snacks funElectronic Theatre Imagection in two ways; collecting one hundred will replace a lost dog-tag and a trail of Scooby Snacks tends to show the direction Scooby needs to go, in a similar fashion to Sonic Adventure, but with removing the subtlety entirely. There are also bags of Scooby Snacks that will immediately replenish one dog-tag. By finding trap pieces you can unlock monster profiles, this is basically information about the games various enemies that can give you clues on how to defeat them. Vanquishing enemies will yield Mubber which can be exchanged at Mubber converters for recipe ingredients and costumes.  Yep, that’s right, costumes. Each of the three Worlds has a costume Scooby can use by first collecting the Costume Coin and then exchanging Mubber at a converter. The first is a Kung-Fu Costume which allows you to beat down enemies like some sort of canine Jackie Chan, complete with Bullet-Time and Mega-Strike. Next up is the Bat Costume which allows Scooby to ride air currents and glide through the air with ease, and finally there is the Robin Hood Costume, which gives Scooby a bow with which to fire plungers at his enemies. Most of the games puzzles are solvable by using each of the costumes abilities. A sElectronic Theatre Imagemall problem occasionally involved with solving these puzzles is that sometimes the camera switches to a default angle that is not particularly helpful if a level of precision is required i.e. for swinging and jumping between hooks on the ceiling, and that some of the game is a little dark, although this can be excused as many locations are designed to have a slightly spooky appearance.  The in-game graphics are exactly what is required, all the familiar faces are faithfully recreated in 3D and all the enemies are drawn in the classic Scooby-Doo style. All Levels share the character’s cartoon feel and the game has a polished look. The voice acting in this title is superb, all characters sound exactly like the original voiceovers and some of the lines are genuinely funny. The sound effects are also good and link to the action well. As a title stuck firmly in its 3D Platforming roots, Scooby-Doo: Unmasked performs well. There is a decent amount of variety in the game and the sub-games are good, however, while playing I found myself thinking that Electronic Theatre Image I had seen all of these ideas in one form or another before. The title grounds itself in genre-revered traits and shows little remorse for it.  One of the sub-games is a one-on-one battle in UFOs with various power ups to collect; which probably could have quite easily been made into a Multiplayer element and would have added greatly to the longevity of the title. Unfortunately, as it stands, Scooby-Doo: Unmasked is a little short, with the average player clocking in at little over seven hours. The fact that checkpoints are plentiful, lives are infinite and bags of Scooby Snacks are regularly available also affects the game negatively as there is never really a sense of danger, making the game far too easy for even the most uneducated gamer. The Monster Profiles system is basically useless as all enemies can be beaten with a combination of the Slide and Spin Attacks and you are informed in all cases of the method with which to kill the Boss. All in all Scooby-Doo: Unmasked is a respectable 3D Platformer marred by a lack of difficulty and originality. Perfect for those no-brainer gaming days or the recommended 3+ age group, but facing incredibly stiff competition in an all-ready over-crowded genre. Electronic Theatre Image

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