Scooby Doo! and the Spooky Swamp is a new action/adventure game that keeps the same look and feel as Scooby Doo! First Frights, the earlier title in this series by developer Torus Games. If you are either a fan of the original game, or of the long running cartoon series, it may be worth considering. On the other hand, if you are indifferent to either First Frights or the Scooby Doo franchise, there isn’t much new ground being broken in terms of the gameplay.
Scooby Doo! and The Spooky Swamp does a good job capturing the sound and feel of the cartoon series, especially insofar as many of the voices for the characters such as Fred, Scooby and Velma are performed by the same actors (e.g. Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn) that appear in recent incarnations of the animated series. The actual look of the characters represents a “reboot”, with all of the characters other than Scooby having a much younger and updated appearance than in the vintage cartoons. In terms of the playable environments, the Swamp, Alpine Village, and deserted Desert Town provide a variety of puzzles, explorable environments, and spooky villains.
This game keeps the playing format of First Frights. Each of the playable characters has unique attack modes, special abilities, and an upgrade path that is unlocked by building up each of the character costumes. Advancing through the story mode involves solving challenges that are typical to platform-based adventure games, such as sequences of levers and buttons that need to be pressed to reveal clues, as well as a fair amount of interactivity with the environment, such as when larger obstacles in the world need to be pushed around to allow gameplay to progress forward.
Scooby Doo! and The Spooky Swamp has been released for Nintendo Wii, DS, and Sony PS2, and appears to be aimed at familes with younger children. The game offers the ability to either switch between characters or let the computer to take over for one player at any time, and both features allow for parents to play along with their kids while allowing younger players to avoid some of the frustrations of gettting “stuck” in a puzzle without any options.
As an overall package, this game does a good job capturing the mood and feel of the Scooby Doo franchise. Compared to the original release, which now likely resides in the bargain bins of a retailer near you, this latest release offers the expected new stortyline, playable content and environments. Devoted gamers may find the overall difficulty level of the gameplay and the technical merit of the graphics to be unimpressive, but players in the target audience who have some enthusiasm for the Scooby Doo universe are likely appreciate this latest outing.