Scooby-Doo! is an unstoppable force, over the course of 12 different iterations, it has aired 392 episodes and much like The Simpsons (which has also had a Where Are They Now on it you can see here) when a show is that huge it’s going to have a whole host of different games made for it. And when you take a look back you’ll find that Scooby-Doo! is no stranger to the Video Game Market, but you’ll also discover that the last Scooby-Doo! game was all the way back in 2010. So with Scooby-Doo! still airing today I decided to take a look back at what happened to the franchise to cause the last game to be released nearly 8 years ago.
So, let’s kick it off with a little unknown title called Scooby-Doo’s Maze Chase on the Intellivision and to sum it up it’s basically a simple maze game, in which you work your way around a maze avoiding ghosts and trying to rack up points (Sounds familiar?). Its short, there’s not a lot to it and it didn’t really revolutionise anything. Instead, the game is actually pretty awful, normally when you take a look back at the first game in a long series of games the original stands out for being special. Well, this simple and pretty dull Pacman Clone doesn’t do anything at all. If I was to say anything about this game it would be that it’s impressive it didn’t single handily kill the franchise it’s trying to represent. It didn’t really help that what followed it was showing no signs of improvement,
It saddens me to say that Scooby had a few rough breaks in his early years after the initial Maze Chase flop. His next two outings were both arcade games and were both, in succession, pretty terrible. One saw you run around a haunted mansion tackling ghouls in order to get a high score and the other one introduced everyone’s 8th favourite Scooby character Scrappy in another basic platformer. But i dont want to spend too much time on the awful Scooby games as I do the ones that hooked me as a kid, to be more specific the point and click games. Jinx At The Sphinx, Showdown In Ghost Town and Phantom Of The Knight are 3 separate CD-ROM point and click educational Scooby games. Each plays out like an episode of the show and combines, humour, minigames and surprisingly well hidden educational puzzles. In fact, I’d say they were so well hidden that it wasn’t until I went back and did my research on these games that I learnt that they were in fact educational. Having recently completed Monkey Island with my dad I wanted to play some point and click games on my own and these Scooby games were the perfect introduction for me. They were simple, yet challenging for me at a young age and because of that I spent hours playing through them. Their short length allowed it to feel like I was watching a Scooby-Doo! movie and because of that, I would complete the game time and time again, completely oblivious to the fact I was actually learning while doing it. Having gone back to play this as well it’s an incredibly pushy game (education wise) so it shocks me that I didn’t notice this the first time around. But this is what I believe a franchise like this should be used for. This article will put a spotlight on some of the worst games in the Scooby-Doo! license and for sure these point and click games are nothing special but for a children’s TV programme license and educational point and click adventure it’s a perfect example of how to tailor to your audience. It’s a shame the franchise didn’t carry on like this as it would completely change this article.
So around 6-7 games into the 21 Scooby-Doo! Games available we make the jump to the 3D platformer genre. Much alike The Simpsons the Scooby-Doo! games publishers knew exactly what was popular at the time and started throwing out as many 3D platforming games as they possibly could as such Scooby’s 3D era began. Kicking it off on the N64 was the Scooby-Doo! Classic Creep Capers a game which adapted 3 classic Scooby episodes into a fully fledged N64 game. It used 3D polygonal graphics to get a more realistic show-like effect and even got the voice actors from the show airing at the time. But it was met with poor reviews (you should be starting to see a pattern here) and it never really did anything spectacular. In fact, the game was originally supposed to be ported to the PS1 but it was cancelled due to the poor reception of the game. So Scooby needed a new angle once more, now at the start of his 3D era, we started to see the infamous Scooby Movies being adapted.
Scooby-Doo! And The Cyber Chase, Scooby-Doo! (2002) and Scooby-Doo! Monsters Unleashed all hit the shelves in quick succession. Every one of them another attempt at making Scooby a popular gaming franchise and every one of them failing. Both the live action movie games received terrible GBA games which were akin to the actually good Spyro GBA games but without any of the polish or love put into them. The Cyber Chase game, besides being based on Scooby’s best outing (seriously if you like games and Scooby, which by reading this article I’m hoping you are, you should check it out) is a disaster. It’s a very basic run of the mill platformer that has a flawed shadow system and some pretty awful voice acting which tarnishes its source material. I may have played quite a bit of the Cyber Chase game as a child but even back then I was frustrated about how many times I’d die by not releasing where certain pitfalls were. By now you’re probably getting sick of me going on about how nearly every Scooby game is awful, how over the course of the 8+ games I’ve spoken about the only time I spoke positively about one is when I was tricked into learning. But this is all key to understanding why this franchise isn’t making games the way they used too, I am being overly harsh though because not every single Scooby game is a crime against humanity.
Scooby-Doo! Night Of 100 Frights released in 2002 bang after the first live-action movie and is a 3D platformer which sees you rescuing the different members of Mystery Inc. from the clutches of ghosts located around a haunted mansion. You solve puzzles, complete great platforming segments and generally do what most 3D platforms of this era did. I have to be honest, while I am trying to be positive this game isn’t anything special. It is, however, another perfect example of how to represent the world of Scooby in a game and it does a fantastic job of putting you in the rich world the series creates. Night Of 100 Frights got respectable review scores and even managed to get a sequel in the form of Mystery Mayhem which approaches the same format as the N64 game but with the Night Of 100 Frights mechanics. Both these games and the other PlayStation era platformer Scooby-Doo! Unmasked do a fine job of representing the world at hand, they all sold well and showed a promising retribution for a dying license. Then a whole 4 years later the franchise was rebooted one final time.
First Fright was a last-ditch attempt to make Scooby-Doo! relevant again, despite still being aired almost daily Scooby was admittedly at an all-time low. The Straight to DVD movies weren’t getting the love they deserved and frankly the content they were putting out before the late 2010 show Mystery Incorporated was abysmal. Scooby had sold out and this was the last straw. Based another live-action movie this generic, glitch-ridden platformer was panned by both fans and critics and after somehow getting a sequel which was equally as criticised by fans Scooby games stopped production. These horrible attempt s at rebooting the franchise were the last mains console outings for the Scooby Gang and have remained so this very day. There’s been a couple of IOS games and Lego Dimensions gave the gang a level pack but it’s not enough to say they made a grand return because they didn’t. Over the course of 21 games the Scooby-Doo! franchise had around 6 okay games, never great games just okay ones. Yes, the sales figures were always consistent and there must have been a market for these games to have 21 made but it’s impressive how not one of them is rated highly, even with the huge amount of poorly rated Simpsons games they managed to strike gold once or twice. So, to ask where are they now would give you a simple answer they’re gone because the games they made were all terrible. Match that with a decline in popularity for the character and you have a set-in-stone reason as to why this license may never see a home console screen ever again. That being said we live in the era of Vintage clothing being stylish so you never know when something might come back into popularity it may seem bleak for the Scooby Franchise now but in 10 years time who knows where we’ll be.
Did you enjoy the Scooby-Doo! games? Which was your favourite, if any? Let us know in the comments below!