This is one of the rarer Scooby-Doo items I have in my collection, and stumbled upon it while cleaning the other day. This Scooby-Doo Plug and Play Game was made by Jakk's Pacific and released in 2005. It includes five games (each of which are five levels), The Race to Fontecastello, River of Frights, Searching the Castle, The Mysterious Doors, and The Dungeons of Fontecastello. Each of these games technically put together a story, but they can also be played individually.
For this review, I'm going to review each game individually.
The Race to Fontecastello
The first game involves you controlling the Mystery Machine and attempting to get to the castle while picking up Shaggy, Scooby and Velma along the way. The first level is pretty simple, you just have to dodge that are coming at you from both sides of the road, and others that are crashed. In the second level, however, it gets a bit more difficult. You have to avoid the Black Knight who is in a car behind you. You can get rid of him by throwing banana peels at his car, though you have to find them along the way, and can only pick up one at a time. If you do not have any banana peels, you are out of luck and have to deal with the Knight ramming The Mystery Machine until you find another banana peel. This is one part I don't like about the game, because there isn't much strategy to it and just is circumstantial. The cars are gone from this level, but you also have to dodge skeletons and rocks. The next level is exactly the same, with the exception of introducing ramps.
The fourth level gets significantly more challenging. You have to avoid both ghosts and cars coming at you, as well as a ghost which is behind you. The only way you can get rid of the ghost is by finding a rocket, which allows you to drive the Mystery Machine at hyper speed. (You can also collect rockets in all other levels of this game) This speed boost is both a curse and a blessing, because it makes the Mystery Machine go so fast that it is very difficult to dodge obstacles. The fifth and final level is the most challenging, because it includes both the Knight's car and the ghost, but never at the same time from as far as I've seen. Ghosts don't come at you, but things that appear to be crawling coffins attempt to attack you from in front. You also must dodge rocks and other obstacles.
One other piece I forgot to mention until now is that you can collect Scooby Snacks along the way. If you collect 25 snacks, you will gain an extra life. You begin with a total of 3 lives, but can increase that number with Scooby Snacks. There is no limit to how many lives you can have.
Overall, this particular game is just okay. While it's very challenging, I feel that the game was a bit poorly made because much of the challenge is due to random circumstance rather than strategy or being good at the game. It's possible to die from the Knight's car ramming you too many times, simply because there were no banana peels to throw at his car.
River of Frights
This is a pretty fun game, and solves the "circumstantial" issue I had with the last game. In this game, you play as Shaggy, and have to jump from log to log on a river to avoid the knight who is right behind you. You also have to avoid alligators and frogs along the way. Amusingly, Scooby throws storks from the shoreline, which you can collect to distract the frogs so they won't lick you and cause you to lose health. You can jump on alligators as logs, but if they snap at you (which can happen at any time, but sometimes you get lucky), you lose 1/3 of your health. There's not really any variation to the levels with this one.
Searching the Castle
While I love the music and setting of this one, this game is incredibly difficult to play due to the poor design of it. Searching the Castle has you play as Shaggy and Scooby, and you have to navigate your way through the castle (somewhat aimlessly, as you don't find anything) while avoiding monsters.
The first level features some sort of skeleton pirate as the villain. To dodge these villains, you have to hide behind objects in the castle until the villain passes you. There's also bats which you have to duck from pushing the joystick forward, and rats you have to pull the joystick backwards to jump into Shaggy's arms. The problem with this is that the joystick is hypersensitive, and even bumping it ever so slightly on accident will cause Scooby to jump into Shaggy's arms. While sometimes this can just be a minor annoyance, it will often happen at horrible times like when you're trying to hide from a villain, which will likely have you shouting at your TV because the joystick isn't responsive haha. There's no strategy whatsoever to this game, and the villains populate throughout the level randomly. I've had levels where there are no villains at all except bats, and others where there are like 10 in one level. Sometimes the villains will even populate on top of each other because of this glitch, so you'll get two ghosts coming at you at once. The second level is the same, but introduces ladders into regular gameplay that you have to climb up. The third level introduces ghosts, but takes away the skeleton pirates and rats. The fourth level reintroduces the skeleton pirates, has ghosts and rats, and also introduces bugs and a giant spider, which always appears at the end of the level. The fifth and final level includes everything and introduces more than one giant spider.
This game is my least favorite even though the setting and music is great. Because of the circumstance and poor programming of the joystick, it makes the game difficult and unenjoyable to play.
The Mysterious Doors
This game is pretty fun! As Scooby, you have to navigate your way through several mysterious doors to find the right door that brings you to the end of the level. You also have to avoid mummies and ghost dogs (which are basically just a dog with a sheet over its head). The mummies can also go through doors, though the ghost dogs cannot. You can collect locks (one at a time) to lock a specific door for a short time so mummies cannot go through them. You can also collect a crystal ball to see where a particular door will lead you. There's a map on the bottom left corner which shows you the different types of doors, to make it easier to see how many doors are on a particular level. There's not much variation to the game from level to level.
The Dungeons of Fontecastello
This is easily my favorite of the games included here. The Dungeons of Fontecastello has you playing as Shaggy, trying to find keys to open the lock to get to the next level. Along the way, you have to avoid ghosts and other villains and traps.
In level 1, all you have to do is find the copper key and avoid ghosts. In level 2, it gets a bit more difficult, and you have to find both a copper and silver key, while avoiding ghosts and moving statues. Level 3 gets even more challenging, because you have to once again find a copper and silver key, while avoiding ghosts and now trap doors. You can control the trap doors, however, by turning the switches next to them on and off. My absolute favorite part of the game is the fact that though it's completely unnecessary for gameplay, you can control the trap doors by turning the switch to "off," then as the ghost is about to come over the trap door to grab you, you can turn the switch on and have them fall down the trap door. The best part about this is that the ghosts make an amusing noise as they're about to fall, it's a very shocked yelp like they were just touched in an unwanted way or something lol. It amuses me so much that the game programmers chose to program in this little aspect that was completely unnecessary to getting through the game, and even made the ghosts have feelings when it happens haha. I'm sure it's much funnier when you hear it in the game rather than my explanation of it.
The fourth level is the most difficult (odd considering there are five levels), because it includes the ghosts, moving statues, and trap doors as well as three keys, copper, silver and gold. The final level includes no keys, and only ghosts and moving statues. The Black Knight is also included, and the whole point of the level is to trap him by turning on the four switches right when he's around the magnet. I've found it's easiest to turn three on, wait until the Knight is right on top of the magnet (sometimes you have to act as bait and lure him there), then turn on the final switch so there's no chance of not catching him.
The last aspect I forgot to mention is that the game does include the option of playing the "easy" or "hard" version, but honestly, I've tried both and it seems all up to circumstance of how many villains you face, and like there's nothing different. This is with the exception of the last game, The Dungeons of Fontecastello, which also includes snakes (completely absent from the easy version) beginning with level 2.
This last one is my favorite, because it seems there's actually some strategy involved with it, and admittedly I just loved that the programmers included that unnecessary aspect. The ghosts in this level look super cool too!
Overall, this is a pretty fun game with the exception of the Race and Castle games, which are completely up to chance and there's really no strategy involved.
If anyone else has this game or remembers it, I'd love to know your thoughts!