At E3 2009, we had a chance to get together with Warner Brothers' Josh Fleming, producer of Scooby-Doo First Frights, and play the Wii version of this upcoming platformer. We even had a chance to play with him in the game's Cooperative mode, and you know, we actually had a good time! Are you or your kids into Scooby-Doo? Read on for more information.
Who's Making This Game: Torus games is working on Scooby-Doo First Frights. They're no stranger to working with others' intellectual properties. They've developed games featuring Beavis and Butt-Head, Shrek, Curious George, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and others.
What the Game Looks Like: Scooby-Doo First Frights features a cute, kid-friendly art design with younger-looking versions of the characters we all know and love. The game takes place during the early days of Mystery, Inc. Shaggy, Scooby, and company are shorter and clearly younger than we've seen before, and the game will detail what brought them together. The level that we played took place in an amusement park (a series staple, of course!), and featured colorful backgrounds and sets that were comfortable fits for what you'd expect in a Scooby-Doo game.
What There Is to Do: The game is primarily an action platformer, so you'll spend most of the game leaping around, collecting Scooby Snacks, and beating up on enemies. However, you aren't stuck doing this alone: Scooby-Doo First Frights features local two-player co-op, so a friend can drop in and take over for the second character, which is otherwise controlled by the AI. You can switch between characters easily, which is important, because only certain characters can perform certain moves. For example, Shaggy can whip across chasms, whereas Scooby can fit into smaller cubbyholes, so you'll need specific characters for solving certain puzzles. And sometimes you'll need to cooperate, such as when you must press two levers at once.
How the Game Is Played: The controls are simple, and the game supports the Wii Remote, the combo Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and the classic controller. We used the remote tilted on its side in a traditional controller manner, and controlling our character was simple using the D pad to move, the 1 button to attack, and the 2 button to jump. Every character has different attacks, and they also have alternate costumes that grant them different abilities (such as Fred's football uniform). We spent most of our time as Scooby, for a very good reason: His main weapons are linked sausages that he twirls around like nunchaku. The combat is simple, but you can charge up your attack, or perform a ground pound by double jumping and then holding the attack button. We also took control of Shaggy a few times, who uses a slingshot to pelt enemies at a distance. It came in handy against the miniboss we fought, which was a creepy, rotund clown that bounced around the screen using a trampoline.
Of course, there's plenty of jumping too. We navigated across platforms separated by flowing water, and in a fun little chase scene, we ran toward the camera as a giant ogre chased us, jumping over logs and leaping across gaps along the way. (Unsurprisingly, this was very similar to the boulder scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, except that this was an ugly living boulder with legs and, presumably, bad breath). In another charming scene, we rode a white-water raft of sorts, beating up on living baby dolls all the while.
What They Say: Scooby-Doo First Frights should appeal to players of all ages, and will let parents and kids enjoy themselves together. If the child finds a portion too difficult, he or she can drop out and let the parent drive things, and then drop back in when ready.
What We Say: The game looks really cute and seems like lighthearted fun, with some co-op moments reminiscent of the Lego platformers. There's still some work to be done: the collision detection makes it easy to bump into your fellow player and slide off of platforms, and the postdefeat spawning system caused us to respawn above water or a crevasse and fall to our death multiple times. However, we like the adorable art style, and it seems like a game anyone could pick up and play.
Scooby-Doo First Frights will feature voice actors from the animated series (such as voice-acting veteran Frank Welker), so current fans should feel right at home. If you're into Scooby, you won't have to wait long to jump into the Mystery Machine: The game is due for release on the Wii, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo DS this fall. In the meantime, grab some Scooby Snacks and reminisce about all of the sadistic things you always wanted to do to Scrappy.