Although Night of 100 Frights was released to nearly coincide with the Scooby-Doo motion picture, you can be assured that they are related only by name. The storyline, voices, and overall style are completely different. Not being plagued by the restrictions and horrible reputation of the dreaded movie-to-game syndrome, Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights was free to borrow heavily from the classic cartoon and recreate the same off-the-wall humor of the series. So perhaps it’s not that surprising that this game manages to dole out an entertaining experience laden with Scooby style and a laugh-track to boot.
The plot, unsurprisingly, is all about Scooby and his gang’s exploits throughout a haunted mansion as they attempt to dig up clues and solve a mystery. A friend of Daphne’s is having some ghoulish trouble at the mansion she is staying in and has hit-up the gang to help out. Right from the start, Scooby and Shaggy flat-out refuse to go into the mansion but as Shaggy pulls out a box of conveniently-placed Scooby snacks from a tree branch, he discovers that the branch is actually a lever which activates a trap-door. Shaggy abruptly falls into the trap-door and leaves Scooby behind, by himself. At this point, you’ll begin the game and be playing as Scooby as he attempts to find Shaggy. There are 84 levels distributed among 14 different areas in which you’ll traverse and meet up with 20 of the series’ most nefarious baddies until your eventual showdown with the Mastermind.
Controlling Scooby-Doo is simple; he has all the standard abilities of most 3D platforming heroes. Scooby can run, jump, pounce on enemies, sneak, hide, bash, and swing on overhanging ropes. As you progress through the game, you’ll be given new abilities, like a shovel that allows you to dig up the ground, a helmet which gives you the ability to take out the more menacing foes, and an umbrella that allows Scooby to gently float to the ground from high-up platforms. These new abilities, which are given to you as ‘inventions’, are necessary for progressing. For example, once you acquire the spring-jump you’ll be able to reach an over-head key to a new area which was previously inaccessible. Some locations in the game require that you first collect a certain amount of Scooby Snacks before you are granted access to the area. Scooby Snacks are scattered copiously throughout the games’ expansive areas. The actual gameplay mechanics of the game revolve around Klonao/Bandicoot-esque 3D environments that, while not feeling as tightly knit or solid as some of the better known running and jumping games, does have all the merits of a worthwhile platformer. The biggest issue I have with the game is the dynamic camera perspectives which change automatically according to your on-screen position. There are no manual override controls and at times the perspective is considerably less than ideal.
The visual style of the game feels like it was ripped straight out of the classic 1970’s cartoon series. The spirit and behavior of the franchise wholly survived the transition to 3D. Character models are excellent reproductions of their cartoon counterparts and despite a few blocky edges and simplistic facial animations, they look great. Environments are dark and moody thanks to the haunted theme of the game, but they are also quite detailed and aesthetically appealing. Sound is suitably fitting, sporting enchanting orchestrations with cartoony undertones. A laugh-track was incorporated into the game and whenever humorous dialogue transpires, a dynamic range of laughing will occur, just like in the show! It’s a great addition and fills the awkward moments between the game’s goofy attempts at being funny and the inevitable silence that follows from the person playing the game. There is plenty of voice-acting and each character sounds very close to their cartoon personalities. THQ contracted the same voice-talent that can be found in the recently released video and DVD Scooby cartoons, which helps to give the aural aspects of the game a much-needed boost and helps to keep things feeling authentic and enjoyable. Other notable voice actors found in Night of 100 Frights include Tim Conway, Don Knotts, and Tim Curry as the Mastermind.
There are some mentionable problems with the game, like the sometimes-annoying camera system and overly simplistic gameplay mechanics, but overall this is an entertaining platformer that doesn’t feel like it was rushed out the door in the hopes of making some quick cash. THQ did a great job with the license and does justice to the Scooby legacy; a welcome breath of fresh air.