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Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhen
game: Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhen
three star
posted by: GF! Back Catalogue 10/2004 => 1995
publisher: Capcom
date posted: 12:00 AM Sat May 1st, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Sat May 1st, 2004

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By Eric Qualls

Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem is a great example of how developers should be making games with big name licenses. Rather than plug the characters into a stock platform or adventure game, which is usually what happens with licensed games, developer A2M instead sought out to make Mystery Mayhem as much like the TV show as possible. This means all of the characters, voices, theme music, humor, laugh track, and everything else you see in the show is present in Mystery Mayhem. The game is even split into different areas where each area plays out just like an episode of the show. Too bad the gameplay is so dull, because the cut scenes and classic Scooby-Doo moments are actually really entertaining. Mystery Mayhem is an average game with above average presentation. Scooby fans will dig it, but I'm not sure anyone else will.

Just like pretty much every episode of the show, Scooby and pals are called to investigate paranormal activity for some suspicious looking geezer. You start at a university and from there go to a theme park and even a movie studio. Each of the five locations you visit is like its own little episode and at the end everything comes together so you can solve the greater mystery in Mystery Mayhem. Along the way, Scooby and Shaggy will get scared and then eat, get scared again, Velma will lose her glasses, Shaggy and Scooby will eat again, and you'll uncover the dastardly plot of a strange man wearing a sheet over his head trying to scare people. Most importantly, canned laughter plays in the background at key points so the kiddies know when to laugh. Sound familiar? It should. If you have seen one episode of Scooby-Doo, you have seen them all, and Mystery Mayhem is no different. That is a good thing.

Based on the story and presentation alone, Mystery Mayhem is a winner. It is a shame that the gameplay in between the cut scenes is so boring. You control the tag team of Scooby and Shaggy and can switch between them at will in order to solve puzzles and reach certain areas that only one character or the other can get to. One difference between Mystery Mayhem and the show is that some of the ghosts are actually real and not just creepy guys in disguise. To fight the ghosts you have a book called the Tome of Doom, which allows you to suck them up and trap them in the book. To trap ghosts you have to get close to them and then start smashing buttons as they appear on screen. By the time you have cleared the first room of ghosts this gameplay style becomes tiresome. Sadly enough there are hundreds more ghosts that have to be dealt with using a few thousand button taps. There are some simple puzzles spread throughout the levels as well as an annoying number of fetch quests, but no aspect of the gameplay is all that challenging and it all becomes quite boring rather quickly.

Each of the levels plays out in pretty much the same way. You start out by finding clues, and once five are found and verified by Velma, the gang set an elaborate trap so they can catch the villain. You'll also have to rescue members of the Scooby Gang every now and then as well as clear each location of ghosts. Like I said above, none of this is all that fun. The only redeeming factor of the gameplay is that everything you do and how everything is laid out is just like the show. Whenever I play, part of me wants to keep pressing on because I want to see what classic bits are coming up next, but the gameplay is so dull that I have no real desire to trudge through to the next area. Graphically, Mystery Mayhem is not spectacular, but it gets the job done. The character models and environments look pretty close to what you would expect from the cartoon, just in 3D. After all, these characters aren't exactly the most detailed that have ever graced the small screen so you can't expect too much from the graphics. The most impressive thing about the visuals is the animation. The way Shaggy and Scooby move is instantly recognizable and the other characters behave just like you remember. The graphics are far from cutting edge, but they capture the look and the feel of the show perfectly and you really can't ask for much more than that.

The sound in Mystery Mayhem is also extremely true to the show. The voice actors have lent their talents to the game and all of the characters sound just right. The famous theme song is also represented in all of its glory and the other music in the game fits in very well. Sound effects for creaking boards, groaning ghosts, and everything else are also very impressive. The canned laughter that is synonymous with Scooby-Doo is present and accounted for and just as ridiculous as ever. A little detail that I really enjoyed was the little screeching sound whenever a character came to a halt. The presentation in this game is top notch.

If you are a die-hard fan of Scooby-Doo, you could probably add this game to your collection and enjoy every second you spend with it. The graphics and sound are exactly like you remember from the show and the way the levels are set up so they play out like individual episodes is absolutely brilliant. The gameplay in between all of the cut scenes and classic Scooby-Doo shtick leaves a lot to be desired, however. It is pretty much universally agreed that button mashing and endless fetch quests suck, but that is all you do in Mystery Mayhem so the gameplay gets repetitive very quickly. Kids might like it, but the game can be beaten in just a few hours so for most people Mystery Mayhem is a rental at best. There is a lot here for Scooby fans to like, but I recommend renting it first because the gameplay is mediocre at best. If you want a light adventure that is familiar and yet unique, Sphinx and The Cursed Mummy is something you should definitely try out. It is exciting, funny, and challenging all in perfect doses.