Scooby-Doo & the Spooky Swamp

6.5 Overall Score

Written by on October 28, 2010 in

Ruh Roh, Scooby and Shaggy are in quite a pickle again and it’s not the good kind.  In Scooby-Doo and the Spooky Swamp, Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment brings back those meddling kids to solve some mysterious happenings on the Nintendo Wii.  As the game begins, Scooby and Shaggy follow their noses to find a secret hideout of a voodoo priestess named Lila.  Of course this brings the duo smack into the heart of the Spooky Swamp.  Here Lila is brewing up an amazing stew and promises to share it if the two help her find a few last secret ingredients.  There is one catch though.  They have to promise to keep their mission a secret from the rest of the Scooby Gang, also known as Mystery Inc.

The reluctant detectives are told that the clues to the ingredients can be found in Lila’s abandoned hideouts.  The first hideout is located in the odd little southwestern ghost town.  The duo is in luck because the rest of Mystery Inc. has been called to that same town to help a rich oil baron by the name of Mr. Costington.  Most of the town has mysteriously vanished leaving only angry skeletons, and flaming luchadores in their wake.  The second area Lila sends them is an Alpine Village.  Luckily Daphne’s cousin Anna calls the whole gang up for some wintery fun.  Once the gang arrives at the resort they find another mystery.  Who is destroying the local logging equipment and ski resort?  It is another deserted town overrun by crazy creatures like mythical yeti, wendigos, wolves, and vicious snowmen.   The last area is the Spooky Swamp itself and one last big boss battle.  Shaggy and Scooby must fight their way through the areas to get to the first hideouts and search for puzzle pieces scattered there to discover one of the missing ingredients.  Scooby and Shaggy also realize there is another mystery in the town.  The gang must uncover who has scared the rest of the townsfolk away.  This mystery brings the rest of the Scooby Gang into the game.  The game is a one to two player open world family fun game.  The focus here is easy game play with an emphasis on fun.  The players can easily drop in or out at any time and later as the rest of the Scooby gang becomes playable the player can easily switch between each character to take advantage of each character’s strengths.  Scooby can use doggy doors to travel to new places.  Shaggy can use his yo-yo as a grappling hook of sorts to get to new areas.  Fred uses his strength to push or pull heavy objects.  Daphne can climb up pipes or along ropes.  Lastly, Velma is the hacker that can gain access to mechanical gates or vehicles by solving a color coded musical mini-game similar to Simon.  The player will need each of these skills throughout the game to gain access to different areas.  Game creators have taken care to pay homage to the lore of Scooby Doo.  The original voices are used for each of the characters and an old fashioned laugh track brings back the golden age of the Saturday morning cartoon.  Those that don’t appreciate the laugh track can turn it off in the options menu.  The gang travels to each location in their van, the Mystery Machine.  Each loading screen also transitions using the classic bats flying across the screen.

There are many ways that this game tries to keep the game entertaining without making it overly difficult for a younger player.  There is no real cost to getting knocked out.  The player may lose some loot but they can easily pick it all back up and keep fighting.  Some of the tougher beasties need a bit more strategy to take down.  For example the flaming luchador fighters must first be doused by tossing vases of water at them before the player can hurt them.  Similar techniques need to be used to take down the main boss of each area.  In the southwestern themed town it is a giant Day of the Dead Puppet known as El Scaryachi.  These boss battles go through several rounds with different objectives.  If a player can’t seem to get through a round the game gives the player the option to skip to the next round.

There are a few other helpful elements in the game.  When faced with a challenging enemy or task that needs a bit more strategy one of the characters will provide hints in the form of dialog.  Shaggy might suggest they cool enraged moose off with some snowballs before they can hit them.  One last source of hints may be a little politically incorrect.  Phillipe is a frog with a French accent that will hop around each environment.  If the player catches the frog he will either give the player a clue or just a bad joke.  These are subtle helps for gamers but done in a way that is an integral part of this open world game.  The Scooby Gang also has the latest in low-tech detective gadgetry.  The Scooby Gang has a tape recorder, yes I said tape, to capture critical dialog to help them crack the case.  There is also a camera to capture photos of clues and ghosts.  What is the last gadget?  It is a magnifying glass, of course.  This item helps the gang uncover the trail of a suspect or find hidden clues.

It is rare that a game geared towards younger audiences allows such freedom for the player to move between areas.  Even when the main game is over the player can return to each area to find all the collectables and hidden mini game areas.  There are several collectible items that can be found in each area ranging from Scooby Snacks all the way up to costume pieces.  Scooby Snacks are currency in the game that can be used to purchase items like fun costumes to dress the character up.  There are also Scooby medallions (dog tags), letters that spell out “S-C-O-O-B-Y”, and sandwich parts.  The player can also gain informational case files on beasties by collecting enough masks off their defeated bodies.  The player can also earn trophies for different accomplishments in the game.

This is not a throw-away attempt to bank on an iconic cartoon.  A lot of thoughtful touches make this game fun.  Yes there can be a lot of backtracking at certain points in the game.  They throw in a lot of fighting to keep the player busy but sometimes you might wish you could teleport back a bit faster.  At a couple key moments in the game they play on the cowardly fun of Shaggy and Scooby by throwing them in the middle of a chase mini-game.  Here they have stumbled upon the big beasty and must run and jump to get away.  This is a very creative way to keep in the spirit of the cartoon yet get the characters back to the start of the level.   I have to say this game is worth a look if you want a game that is fun for the young and young at heart.

A copy of Scooby Doo and the Spooky Swamp was provided to The Married Gamers for review and evaluation.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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