Version tested: PlayStation 2
More than 35 years after Scooby and the gang first appeared on our screens, it seems that kids can't get enough of the doggy detective and his chums. And now they're back in yet another platforming adventure that, although formulaic, is sure to keep younger Scooby fans entertained this Christmas.
The game sees you playing as Scooby as he and the gang embark on a quest to locate Jed, the brother of Fred, who's been accused of a crime he didn't commit. Cue lots of running, lots of jumping, all manner of switch pulling and, naturally, billions of items to collect.
So it's much like all the other Scooby-Doo videogame tie-ins, in other words - but there are a few twists. Scooby can now don a variety of costumes which give him special powers - the kung fu outfit lets him pull off karate chops, while the bat costume lets him glide about the place and the Robin Hood costume comes complete with a bow and arrows. Well, a bow and sink plungers - it is for kids after all.
Run, jump, repeat
The costumes don't come into play that often, however - for the most part, you're tasked with endlessly jumping over gaps, climbing ladders, swinging on ropes and so on. There's a bit of combat to be done and a few bosses to face off with, but none of them will give you too much trouble.
As a result of all this the game does feel rather repetitive and there's certainly nothing new here, but it still offers a treat for younger Scooby lovers thanks to decent production values. The animations are fluid, the environments are nicely rendered and there are plenty of lengthy cut-scenes, featuring the voices of the cartoon cast and old days Batman Adam West. Plus, of course, the famous theme tune is present and correct.
The storyline should keep kids entertained, too. There are plenty of twists, turns and cheesy old jokes, and even a bit of canned laughter here and there, just like in the TV show. Arguably, the funniest part of the game is Scooby's ass-dragging combat move, which has clearly been inspired by the way real live dogs enjoy wiping themselves clean on living room carpets. Nice.
In short, it does feel like you're playing an extra long episode of the cartoon, and despite the repetition, the game is fun to play through: in fact the familiar mechanics might well be a good thing for young kids. The controls are simple to use and forgiving, and you won't be punished for missing a jump by a single pixel or anything like that. It's a game that kids will find it easy to navigate their way through levels and work out what their next objective is, so at least you'll be spared too much nagging at being asked what to do next!
But as a result of this, and the fact that the whole thing doesn't last very long, Scooby-Doo! Unmasked isn't a game that's likely to keep kids occupied for days on end. A reasonably competent gamer, even a very young one, will most likely work their way through the whole thing by the time Boxing Day afternoon rolls round. Still, for the young completist, there are plenty of hidden items to discover, which unlock bonuses like monster profiles and developer artwork.
All in all, Scooby-Doo! Unmasked is nothing special - you won't find many original ideas or much variation between levels here, and it's all over a bit too quickly. But if you're looking to buy a game that will entertain a Scooby fan who just wants to play the cartoon, or a younger gamer who just wants some simple running, jumping and collecting to get on with, this will do the trick.
6 / 10
Children's titles are rated out of five to differentiate them from the standard Eurogamer scoring system.