It's unusual when a cartoon-licensed adventure game can be compared to the likes of first-rate 3D platformers like Rayman 2 or Klonoa 2. But Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights is one of those rarities that lives up to the spirit of its subject matter while also dishing out a reasonably decent gameplay experience.
The story follows Scooby, Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Fred as they try to solve the mystery of the Mastermind--a fiendish villain who has brought back 20 of the gang's most dastardly foes. The setting itself is a large mansion, which, as Shaggy laments early on, is haunted. In all, there are 84 total levels to keep you occupied throughout 14 different areas, including a few outside locations such as a graveyard and fishing village.
You control Scooby-Doo, who ends up having to solve the mystery himself after everyone else disappears. His basic actions are fairly standard in that he can run, jump, and bash monsters with his head--but there are also inventions, scattered around the mansion, that can give him extra abilities. Some of the better items include a shovel for digging up treasure, galoshes for trudging through tar, and an umbrella that enables Scooby to float through the air.
To solve the case, you need to track down these inventions, as well as gather the required number of Scooby Snacks, to gain access to all areas of the mansion. Execution of these goals requires that you tackle a variety of traditional video game mainstays, namely switch puzzles, platform jumping, slippery surfaces, rope swings, and the occasional boss character. The game keeps things interesting by varying the presentation of these obstacles--sometimes you'll navigate an area that is fully three-dimensional and allows unlimited exploration, like in UbiSoft's Rayman 2, and sometimes you just have to make it from left to right without falling into a bottomless pit, much like in Namco's Klonoa 2.
Gameplay feels generic at times, but never to the extent that the Scooby-Doo license seems pasted on. The only real problem is that the game's camera is rather unpredictable, often moving around at inopportune moments or choosing a vantage point that is totally unhelpful for the task at hand.
Despite the camera, Scooby-Doo: Night of 100 Frights is visually pleasing. In keeping with the artistic style of the TV show, everything has a grainy, washed-out look. Plus, Scooby-Doo, the monsters, and the rest of the cast are brought to life by 3D character models and some well-placed lip synching. Backgrounds and textures aren't exceptionally large or detailed, but the fact that they genuinely resemble settings from the classic TV show more than compensates for any lack of grandeur.
Likewise, sound effects and music are low-key but in line with the standards set by classic Scooby-Doo cartoons of the 1970s. Scooby himself has a number of choice exclamations, including "Ruh-roh," "Ree hee hee," and of course, "Scooby Dooby Doo!" The underlying soundtrack is mildly haunting but made humorous by the frequent caterwauling of ghosts and bats, as well as a laugh track that pipes up whenever Scooby uses one of the professor's inventions. During boss battles, there are even wacky sing-alongs featuring the game's voice actors.
The voice cast is by far the best aspect of the game's audio. THQ was wise to recruit the same set of actors from the recent direct-to-video Scooby-Doo releases, as their performances contribute a level of authenticity that is absent from so many other cartoon-licensed video games. The dialogue is dry, but it is full of the same deadpan wit that you'll observe from any of the Scooby-Doo videos or TV episodes. Fans of the classic Scooby-Doo TV series will also recognize a few familiar voices playing key guest roles, including Tim Curry as the Mastermind, Don Knotts as the groundskeeper, and Tim Conway as Professor Graham.
Overall, Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights is a good game and an excellent re-creation of a cherished cartoon.