This game is frightening . . . frighteningly fun!!!

User Rating: 9 | Scooby-Doo! First Frights WII
There aren't that many Scooby-Doo games out there that I've been able to find, so when I found this one I was more than pleased! It is called Scooby-Doo: First Frights because it features Mystery, Inc. in their earliest days, solving some of their very first mysteries. You take control of Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and the Scoob and sleuth your way through four episodes of spooky intrigue.

From the main menu there are three choices you can make, the first of which is called "Episodes". This is where you go to get in to the game and start sleuthing. Once you select this option you will be taken to the episode selection screen. At first only Episode 1 is available, the next episode is only unlocked once you've solved the previous one, and so on and so forth, culminating in the final mystery contained within Episode 4. Each episode has the same formula to it, there are four regular levels (longer levels you explore, collect clues, fight bad guys in, etc.), one chase level (shorter level always featuring Shaggy and Scooby running from the episode's primary villain), and a boss level (the final level of each episode where you take down the episode's primary villain in a final fight). The only exception to this rule is Episode 1 as it only features two regular levels instead of the four. There is lots of stuff you need to look out for when you start progressing through the game. First and foremost are Scooby Snacks! Yum yum. Most of them you will find them just lying about the levels but you can also earn them by destroying enemies and environmental objects. Scooby Snacks that are glowing with a golden hue are worth more than just the singles, they are worth 50 Scooby Snacks. Scooby Snacks are used to purchase some of the game's unlockable content. To progress past certain areas in some of the levels you will have to find a clue. In order to find a clue you need to collect a number of yellow puzzle pieces that combine in to said clue (usually between 4-8 pieces per clue). Every once in a while you will come across a locked trunk. You will be asked to solve a puzzle and once you do so correctly, the trunk will open and you will be awarded a disguise for one of the Mystery, Inc. characters which you can later purchase using your Scooby Snacks. Throughout the levels every so often you will come across an environmental object that has a pink/purple colouring to it. When you hit these objects they spit our health orbs that will refill your energy meter. The last thing you need to look out for, and the hardest thing to find, are Scooby Medallions. All levels in the game (except boss levels) will have anywhere from 2 to 8 of these medallions (they look like Scooby's dog tag) scattered throughout, in usually very hard to find spots. These medallions give you a big Scooby Snack bonus and, if you find all of them in the game, unlock a special trophy! After you complete a level the first time through, or on Story Mode as they call it, you can then go back and re-do it on Explore Mode. On each level the first time through on Story Mode, the game makes you play with two pre-set characters. Sometimes said characters aren't able to access all of the stuff you need to find in the level (usually the Scooby Medallions) as each character has their own unique abilities that help them through the game. For example Daphne can shimmy up pipes, Shaggy can reach high places with his grappling hook, and Scooby can utilize doggy doors. When you go through on Explore Mode afterwards you again start play with the original two characters you played with on Story Mode, but at any time you can bring up a character menu and switch to whomever else you may wish to use at that time! Explore Mode is not offered on the chase levels or the first regular level of Episode 1, for some reason. When you eventually get to the end of an episode you use the clues that you found, all the stuff you've seen, and any conversations you may have had with other characters in the game to take a guess between three main suspects on who you think the episode's villain is! And that is the game in a nutshell.

The second choice you can make from the main menu is called "Rewards" and is where you access all of the game's unlockable content. The first category you come to under this option is Costumes. When you choose this option a book will open up containing all of the character disguises you've unlocked throughout the course of your game. From here you can purchase them with your Scooby Snacks, which will then make them available for use in Explore Mode. After you defeat an entire episode a number of disguises will become available all at once featuring a number of said episode's enemies. You purchase these disguises here as well. The second category under Rewards is called Trophies. Each level in the game (with the exception of all chase and boss levels) has a task associated with it that you can perform in order to unlock a unique trophy. This is where you can view all of these trophies (this I also where that trophy I mentioned earlier can be viewed, if you collect all Scooby Medallions in the game). The tasks to unlock these trophies usually go something like beating a level in a certain amount of time, destroying a certain amount of enemies, etc. Most of them are fairly easy to achieve. The third and final category under Rewards is called Monsters. When you defeat an episode you will unlock a monster mask specific to that episode's particular villain. This is where you can view your monster masks.

The third and final choice from the main menu is "Extras" and is where you can change some of the game's settings, among other things. You can adjust the game's music, speech, and sound effects volumes, as well as toggle the subtitles, laugh track, and rumble feature on or off. You can also enter any cheat codes you may happen across as well as view a number of videos relating to a newer Scooby-Doo live action television series.

As for the game controls, they are some of the simplest and easiest to use I've seen so far on the Wii! They don't utilize the nunchuk at all, you actually turn the Wii remote on it's side and use it like a classic NES controller instead. The control pad is used to move your character around the screen. The 2 button is used to make your character jump, hit it again once in the air to perform a double jump. The 1 button is the attack button and makes your character punch and kick. You can also use it while jumping to perform aerial attacks. If you double jump and then press the attack button you will perform a ground pounder, which takes out all enemies within a certain radius of your character. Press the A button to switch control back and forth between the two characters you control in any given level. In Explore Mode you hold the A button down for a couple seconds and a character wheel will come up in the bottom left corner of the screen. Use the control pad to cycle between said characters and press 2 to confirm your choice. All of Mystery, Inc. plus any disguised characters you've purchased will be available in this character wheel. As for the B button, it is used to perform each character's unique special attack as well as interact with environmental objects like levers, trunks, computer terminals and such.

In terms of the game's presentation, it is very, very good. The look of the game is quite cartoony, which certainly works to it's advantage in this case. The graphics are good in this game, but they could have been a fair amount better. Some of the backgrounds can be a little rough around the edges, a little extra time in the final polishing stage would have gone a long way. But like I said the game has a very cartoony vibe to it and this helps to minimize the impact of any sub-par visual issues. The sound is very good in this game, the voice actors did a great job with the Mystery, Inc. characters, and the addition of the laugh track was hilarious! The camera angles were almost perfect, every once in a while it would cut you off or box you in to a corner where you couldn't see so well, but this was rare and for the most part they were spot on. As for gameplay, it was perfect. The controls are so easy to use and they respond just the way they should 100% of the time.

For pros and cons the pros certainly are many! Despite only having four episodes the game lasts a lot longer than you think it will. This is in part due to the fact that with the exception of the chase and boss levels, most of the levels in this game are quite long in length. Add to this the fact that you have to go back and re-do them on Explore Mode to complete the game 100% and you'll be spending a good many hours on this title. I also loved all of the unlockable content in this game. Searching for items and having to perform little side tasks along the way always serves to keep you on your toes and keep the game interesting, and this game has that in spades. All of the disguises, trophies, etc. added a lot to this game. As I stated earlier the game's presentation and gameplay for the most part are fantastic. Gameplay in my opinion is one of the most important factors in a successful game and Scooby-Doo was almost perfect in that regard. The most important pro in my books though is . . . fun factor! Even if a game has a couple of minor issues, if the fun factor is high that more than masks any problems that may arise. This game is a ton of fun and I enjoyed playing it from start to finish. The only con I can really think of is just that it needed that little bit extra in terms of visual finishing, everything else about the game was essentially perfect. The game's length is great, but an alternate game mode, maybe some mini-games or something, would have added a lot to it.

As for tips and tricks, there are two big ones I can offer you. First, the Scooby Medallions can be a real pain in the a$$ to find. Most of them you will find with a medium effort, but there are a handful of them in each episode which are truly, fantasmically hard to find! My advice is just to search every nook and cranny of every level. If you're not sure if there is a platform off the edge of a side of a building, jump out there and see (you don't lose much health in the process). Just destroy everything in sight and look everywhere. The other tip I'll give you is to check on a level's trophy before you start playing it. Before you unlock each trophy it will tell you to what you have to do in order to unlock it. That way you are pre-armed before you start the level and can hopefully pick up the trophy the first time trough, saving you the trouble of earning it later on Explore Mode.

Overall I love what they did with this game, they came up with some original Scooby-Doo adventures and presented them in a really fun manner. I saw that they've released a follow up to this game that looks to be in the same kind of format, called Scooby-Doo and the Spooky Swamp. Better get myself down to Gamestop!!