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Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem PlayStation 2

Published by THQ
Developed by Artificial Mind & Movement, Inc.
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99

The Scooby Doo! cartoons have been tremendously popular for as long as I can remember and even as an adult they are still enjoyable to watch. Of course recently we've had two Scooby Doo! movies, which have grabbed people's attention but it's still the cartoons that stand out. In fact only recently it was voted the most popular cartoon by the viewers of Cartoon Network. Scooby Doo! Mystery Mayhem is a game based on the cartoon series and it manages to capture, quite well, the flavour of the cartoons. This review looks at the PlayStation 2 version of the game but it's also available on Xbox and GameCube.

You'll all know that there are five members in the gang, Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby and traditionally in the cartoons when the gang are solving a mystery they split up into two groups. Fred is accompanied by the ladies whilst Scooby and Shaggy go off alone, and usually do the hard work. The same thing happens in the game and you get to control the cowardly duo of Shaggy and Scooby. Of course anyone who has watched the cartoon will know that it's Shaggy and Scooby that always bump into the ghosts. The game has five mysteries to solve but although the stories may differ the game play remains the same.

The game play in Mystery Mayhem is fun but some will find it too simplistic. Finding clues and keys, avoiding ghosts and eventually catching ghosts with The Tome of Doom (Luigi's Mansion style). It does get repetitive after a while but it does have a few nice touches. Rather than loosing lives Shaggy and Scooby have a cool meter that show how calm they are. Bumping into ghosts will deplete this meter and once it's fully depleted they will run around frightened out of their wits. Should this happen a couple of times in succession you'll be returned to the last save point. To fill the meter back up you'll need to find Scooby snacks. Thankfully they are scattered around quite liberally and will reappear so the difficulty of the game is kept quite low. You can swap between the characters you control at any time, the other one just follows your lead. Sometimes you'll need Scooby to crawl through a tight space and clear the way for Shaggy and later in the game Shaggy will have to rescue Scooby. You'll also find ghost disguises from time to time that Shaggy and Scooby can wear and these allow them to be untroubled by their ghostly enemies. Unfortunately you can't wear them very long and a meter will appear to show how long until the disguise disappears.

Graphically the game looks OK and the characters look exactly how you'd expect them to. The graphics don't push the PlayStation 2 in any way but they still look OK and the developers have managed to capture the look of the cartoon fairly well. The game is in full 3D and you'll have to control the camera yourself with the right analogue stick. For most of the time this causes no problems but there are times where your view can become awkward and you can't correct it manually.

Whilst the game on the whole is quite good the lack of subtitles are a bit of a blow and you'll be completely unaware of the games story. None of the cutscenes are subtitled and the comments from the characters during the game are also not subtitled. It's not all bad news though. The tutorial messages are shown in text and when you need to perform a function such as climbing a ladder the button you need to press is shown along with the name of the action it will perform. When you acquire a new objective a folder icon is shown onscreen and by pressing the start button and going to the Episode File you'll be able to find out what needs to be done. When an objective is completed a ticked folder icon will appear onscreen to highlight the fact. Looking at the various clues you'll find throughout the game, which are signified by a magnifying glass icon, will trigger some a verbal description from Velma about the clue. Thankfully this is shown in text so you'll get to learn what the clue is. The game, like the cartoon show, has canned audience laughter and this laughter isn't captioned but to be honest it's quite annoying anyway.

As a game based on the cartoon, Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem is quite enjoyable and certainly feels like the cartoon. However it's a bit simplistic and it's not going to last that long for anyone who has been playing games a while. For younger gamers though the difficulty is probably about right. It's not quite the same for deaf gamers because you won't be able to follow any of the stories because of the absence of subtitles and this is very disappointing. There are some unlockable extras here such as mini-games and 3D character models but they don't really add much to the game. As we've mentioned above the game is still playable and quite enjoyable but not being able to appreciate the story that ties the whole thing together is disappointing.

Overall Game Rating: 6.2/10
Scooby-Doo! Mystery Mayhem succeeds in capturing the feel of the cartoon show but repetitious game play and lack of subtitles mean it's not the game it could have been.

Deaf Gamers comment:
No subtitles means that you're not going to be able to enjoy the games story.