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PSP  header logo

Scooby-Doo! Who's Watching Who?

For: PSP   Also on: DS

Should really be titled Scooby-Doo! Who's Fooling Who?

Product: Scooby-Doo! Who's Watching Who? | Developer: Savage Entertainment | Publisher: THQ | Format: PSP | Genre: Adventure, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Scooby-Doo! Who's Watching Who? PSP, thumbnail 1
The thing about children is that they're little, limited versions of adults. They have tiny hands and tiny feet, and their tiny heads encase tiny brains, which makes it impossible for them to appreciate the finer issues of game mechanics, for instance.

This is possibly the stupidest opening paragraph we've ever written on Pocket Gamer. But we did so because it illustrates the kind of mentality some publishers display when it comes to making games for children, assuming that, provided it has the right licence attached to it, any old rubbish will do. The reality is that young players are far more sophisticated than many grown-ups give them credit for (and that extends beyond gaming, of course).

As it happens though, we're not saying THQ has deliberately underestimated its Scooby-Doo! Who's Watching Who? audience, masking a substandard experience beneath a much-loved, popular franchise. The indication is that it hasn't, and a more likely explanation is the possibility that time and budget constraints may have curtailed the game's development.

None of this changes the fact the experience is severely limited. Not so in the scope of its structure, true, which sees the game mirror the events of a typical Scooby-Doo! episode – investigate a mystery, get chased by ghosts, uncover the truth and the culprit. These fundamental Scooby principles are implemented within a narrative that sees everyone's favourite paranormal investigatory team, Mystery Inc, go head-to-head against a rival operation as part of a reality TV show.

Each 'episode' involves taking control of the greatest Great Dane and exploring an area to collect dog tags. These in turn open the way to the game's other modes of play, which centre around Scooby and Shaggy running away from a chasing ghoul while avoiding obstacles or fiendish traps, and doing some chasing yourself by incarnating Fred while behind the wheel of the Mystery Machine, also avoiding obstacles and fiendish traps. Fred has the added responsibility of trapping the main ghost at the end of each episode.

Before that happens, however, Scooby Doo convention states that you should know who you're trapping. At all times it's an idea to keep your eyes peeled for collectable clues that can be taken back to Velma and analysed in order to narrow down the suspects. Different clues require different equipment, but fear not, as Mystery Inc's boffin is never short of a IT Biometric System or Portable Transform Infrared Spectroscope. Pleasingly, the actual analysis is done via a series of simple mini-games, which further engages the player within the Scooby-Doo! universe.

What a shame, then, that having clearly spent a little time thinking about how to include the various staple elements of the franchise, the developer shatters the bond players might have formed with the game with dreadful execution.

For instance, though technically well animated, poor collision detection sees Scooby stumbling clumsily through the game environment with a level of awkwardness way beyond that which typifies his breed.

To be fair, he's not entirely to blame for this. The collision detection is so poor that negotiating obstacles introduces an additional unwelcome layer of frustration, while you're never quite sure whether ghosts are being affected by Scooby's limited range of combat moves.

When you swap four paws for wheels, things deteriorate further, with the Mystery Machine handling like a toaster as you attempt to negotiate some needlessly tricky courses, both in their design and positioning of obstacles.

And that's regrettable because there's some genuinely credible ideas in here, that if backed by a decent implementation of the playable characters within the environment could have created something Scooby fans would have relished.

As it is, no one is likely to be fooled by this inadequate effort. Nope, not even children with their tiny brains.
Scooby-Doo! Who's Watching Who?
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 23 November 2006
Ruh-roh! Another "Don't worry, the children will never see past the licence to realise the game is rubbish" attempt unmasked
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