Action / Adventure (3 Games)
Developer: Heavy Iron Studios
Websites: Wiki | Walkthrough 1 | Walkthrough 2
Game Rating: E (Everyone) [Comic Mischief]
Release Date: September 16, 2002
$48.99 / $4.99 Game Stop
Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights challenges the Scooby Gang to cleanse Daphne's uncle's haunted mansion. Spanning 12 huge platform-laden levels, Night of 100 Frights boasts various creepy locales like caves, graveyards, and the mansion itself as players explore four unique worlds inspired by the timeless cartoon series. Just be sure to avoid the 20 perilous monsters waiting to get their hands on everyone's favorite slacker dog and don't forget to find the hidden power-ups that can unlock special DVD features and secrets. Best of all and keeping things entirely authentic, Scooby's first PS2 adventure even boasts the same voice talent used for the cartoon series. Zoinks!
- Explore 12 beautifully rendered levels within four worlds based on the classic Scooby-Doo cartoon
- Avoid 20 creepy monsters from the Scooby-Doo universe to solve the mystery
- Power-ups unlock secret areas and bonus DVD features giving players added replay value
- Familiar celebrity voice talent, including some of the original Scooby-Doo cartoon voice actors
Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights is an easygoing adventure game that manages to perfectly duplicate the look and feel of the cartoon series on which it is based. Although this isn't one of the finest-looking games for the Xbox console, those who are even remotely familiar with the characters and stories in a typical Scooby-Doo episode may still get a kick out of it.
A lot of what's in the TV show is in the game. There's the gang chatter, Velma losing her glasses, and Shaggy overusing the word 'zoinks.'
The story revolves around the gang's trip to a seaside mansion that is owned by one of Daphne's college buddies. As Shaggy points out early in the game, the mansion is haunted. Soon after the game opens, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma disappear, for a variety of reasons, leaving you in control of Scooby-Doo — the tireless talking pooch known for such timeless phrases as “ruh-roe” and "Scooby dooby doo!" As you explore the more than 80 different levels, in and around the mansion, you'll find yourself in situations reminiscent of events that you've probably seen in episodes of the cartoon. Twenty of the show's most memorable villains make appearances in the game, as do a number of familiar guest cast members, like Tim Conway and Don Knotts.
Scooby's basic actions are fairly standard. You can run, jump, and bash monsters. You can also talk to friendly characters that you'll meet in the story. The inventions, scattered throughout the mansion, give the game most of its depth. They allow you to dig for treasure, walk through tar, fly across long distances, and perform actions that Scooby couldn't normally accomplish. In the course of solving the case, you need to track down eight of these inventions and gather hundreds of Scooby Snack items in order to access all areas of the mansion.
Even though some of the gameplay feels generic, the Scooby-Doo license never seems pasted on. The majority of areas in the mansion include the typical sorts of situations you've come to expect from 3D platformers — namely, switch puzzles, platform jumping, slippery surfaces, rope swings, and the occasional battle against a boss character. However, these situations are representative of the kinds of things Scooby would do in a typical episode of the show. The game also does a nice job of varying the presentation of these situations in order to keep them fresh. Sometimes you'll navigate an area that is fully 3D and allows for unlimited exploration, while at other times your movement is limited to the horizontal or vertical axis and involves leaping over pits or outrunning a rampaging flood.
Visually, Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights has a grainy and washed-out look that resembles the sloppy artwork of the cartoon show. The backgrounds and textures aren't exceptionally detailed, but the fact that they genuinely resemble settings from the show compensates for the lack of technical horsepower. The character animation is also pretty good, especially for the 20 or so familiar Scooby-Doo monsters you'll encounter. Every last detail is accurate, right down to the lip-syncing and clothing. The camera perspective can be pretty annoying at times, since the viewpoint tends to shift unpredictably and often fails to reveal dangers lurking just outside your field of vision.
While Night of 100 Frights is new to the Xbox, it actually made its debut on Sony's PlayStation 2 almost 15 months ago — in May of 2002. THQ should have used the interim time to improve the game in some significant way, either by including additional levels or by upgrading the game's modest, albeit tolerable, visuals. Instead, the Xbox game is simply a carbon copy of the earlier PS2 and GameCube versions. This point is relevant for a number of reasons. Chief among them, the game looks like a run-of-the mill PS2 game from 2002. Graphics tend to improve from year to year as developers become more familiar with a console's capabilities. This not only puts Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights far behind the curve, when compared to the majority of Xbox games, but it also puts Scooby-Doo! far behind a number of recent PS2 games as well. If you haven't played the game before, or are picking it up as a gift for someone else, the dated visuals probably won't pose a problem. Those of you who already own the game for the PS2 or GameCube should steer clear of the Xbox version, however, since there's nothing new or exciting to justify a second purchase. Not even 480p progressive scan support, which has become quite commonplace in Xbox games nowadays.
Swinging from chandeliers is a common practice in the game — not that it's a bad thing.
The audio is somewhat low-key, although appropriately so. The soundtrack is quiet and spooky, though there are a few humorous overlays; they include ghosts and bats that caterwaul in the distance and a laugh track that pipes up every time Scooby uses one of the professor's inventions. During boss battles, there are sing-alongs that feature the game's voice actors, much like you'd see in an actual Scooby-Doo cartoon from the 1970s. Generally speaking, there is a lot of voice-over work in the game. THQ was smart to recruit the same set of actors from the recent made-for-video Scooby-Doo releases. Their performances provide a level of authenticity that's absent from so many other cartoon-licensed video games.
For a variety of reasons, Scooby-Doo! Night of 100 Frights will appeal most to young children and to diehard fans of the cartoon show. It's not a particularly lengthy game, but the 10 to 15 hours of first-run play time should suit the intended audience just fine. Above all, the game's story and characters are just as entertaining as an episode of the TV show
- Scooby-Doo/Shaggy: Scott Innes
- Fred: Frank Welker
- Daphne/Holly: Graham Grey Delisle
- Velma: B.J. Ward
- Mastermind: Tim Curry
- Groundskeeper: Don Knotts
- Professor Alexander Graham: Tim Conway
- All power-ups: Hold L+R and press X, B, X, B, X, B, B, B, X, X, B, X, X, X.
- Unlock alternate credits sequence: Hold L+R and press B, X, X, B, X, B
- Unlock Movie Gallery: Hold L + R, and press B (x3), X (x3), B, X, B
- All warp gates: hold L+R and press B, B, X, B, B, X, B, X(x3)
Holidays: Set your Gamecube clock to the following dates for something different to happen in the game:
Ever since the launch of the GameCube, Nintendo has been giving its vision of "connectivity" between the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance the hard sell. We've seen plenty of GameCube and GBA games that let you swap items or unlock secret bonuses between the console and portable versions of a game, but these have largely been token gestures, and the shining examples of Nintendo's connectivity ideals have been few and far between. The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures pretty much nails all the bullet points that Nintendo has been hammering on — this is a game best enjoyed with a group of four, and using the Game Boy Advance as a controller has an appreciable impact on the experience. When you're all hooked up and playing with a posse, Four Swords Adventures is a great game.
Four Swords Adventures does an expert job of blending cooperative and competitive gameplay.
As owners of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past for the GBA will recall, Four Swords originated as a nice little multiplayer game that piggybacked along with that remake of Nintendo's seminal SNES adventure. Four Swords Adventures plays much the same, allowing competition and cooperation to coincide. All four Links will be vying for gems that increase the player's fighting power, and they will also be searching for other various bits of treasure. But if you spend your time just backstabbing the other players, you won't get very far, as many of the puzzles require coordination within the group. You'll have to push large blocks together, pull huge levers together, stand on pressure-sensitive floor switches in tandem, and fight massive swarms of enemies together — feats that would be impossible with just a single Link.
The game smartly keeps the scale, and thus, the level of commitment needed from all the players, relatively small by making each level self-contained. You can get special power-ups and heart containers over the course of a level, but when you walk into the next level, you'll be back to square one — basic sword attack, four hearts worth of health, and no secondary weapon. These levels vary a little in size, but they can usually be completed in under an hour, which seems like an appropriately bite-sized chunk of time.
Pac-Man Vs. was novel, and it was nice to have your own private inventory screen on your GBA in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, but Four Swords Adventures really integrates the GBA into the experience. Every time you enter a building, a cave, some kind of subdungeon, or pass through a moon gate into the shadow realm, the action will break out from the TV down to the screen on your GBA. This can, admittedly, be a little jarring at the start. The first time it happens, it will likely take you a couple of seconds to realize that you need to look down at the screen on your Game Boy Advance — but eventually it becomes second nature. There are also some other uses for this new integration, such as a secret ballot that comes up at the end of each stage where players vote for the Light and Dark players on that particular stage. You could conceivably pull off most of what Four Swords Adventures does without GBAs, but having them there really does create a more dynamic multiplayer experience.
Alternately, if you aren't into the whole cooperation thing, the game offers a battle mode where two to four players can simply fight it out. Since the combat is pretty simple, the levels you'll fight on contain lots of deadly traps and incredibly lethal power-ups to spice things up. This mode still remains more of a nice aside; the main adventure is definitely the draw in Four Swords Adventures.
The original Four Swords was strictly a multiplayer experience, but the main story in Four Swords Adventures can also be played solo. Since many of the game's puzzles and boss fights require the cooperation of all four Links, the single-player game puts you in control of all four with classic forest green-clad Link leading the pack. The controls here are pretty intuitive, and it's really easy to snap the Links into formation or to control each Link individually. The game is still good fun when you're on your own, but without four different players to accomplish individual goals on their own, it moves a bit slower. What's nice about Four Swords Adventures, though, is that it doesn't demand that you commit to either the multiplayer or the solo experience, and each time you load up a save game, you're given the option to choose how many players will be in on the action.
One of the differences between the original Four Swords and Adventures is a more persistent narrative. The game starts off with the wind sorcerer Vaati kidnapping Zelda, along with the six maidens who were previously keeping watch over Vaati's prison. Link, heroic as ever, gives chase, and grabs the Four Sword to help him in his battle. Doing so divvies up our pint-sized hero into four different color-coded Links, and then the posse of Link heads out into greater Hyrule to undo the damage that Vaati has done, free the maidens, and, of course, rescue Princess Zelda. Though the story isn't as fleshed-out as a full-fledged Zelda game, Four Swords Adventures still includes plenty of interaction with NPCs, which provides for some occasionally clever dialog.
A cursory glance at Four Swords Adventures might lead you to believe that someone had just slapped a Game Boy Player on the GameCube, but a closer inspection would reveal a bit more. Yes, the majority of the graphics were lifted from the Four Swords GBA game, and as such, the sprites can appear a little pixelated. Adventures does improve on the original Four Swords' visuals, making the Wind-Waker-derived visual style even more reminiscent of the cel-shaded adventure of Link. Some of these enhancements are obvious, such as the curls of purple and black smoke that erupt when enemies are defeated, the ripple effects that occur whenever you travel through a moon gate into the shadow realm, or the various fire effects that you'll encounter. There's subtler stuff at work here, too, such as the shadows cast by clouds in outdoor environments and a nefarious-looking mist in caves — both of these effects definitely add to the atmosphere. The pieces match up stylistically, capturing the Hyrulean flavor almost impeccably. But the drawback of mix-and-matching GBA and GameCube graphics on the same screen is that there's a stark contrast in the quality, which has a negative effect on the game's cohesiveness.
Make no mistake — four players and four GBAs are an absolute must to get the most out of the game.
The sound design for Four Swords Adventures will be even more familiar to anyone who has played any Zelda game, and especially to those who have played The Wind Waker. Virtually every piece of music, every sword slash, every yelp, and every little chime has been lifted directly from The Wind Waker, or they are simply pieces of The Legend of Zelda canon. An argument can be made that this is just lazy on the part of the developers, but really, these are the sounds that you expect to hear when playing a Zelda game. If the menu screen weren't accompanied by the stark opening notes of the main Zelda theme, or if you didn't hear that surprised-sounding eight-note progression whenever you uncovered a secret passage, you'd probably feel just a bit cheated. What's most important, though, is that the sound that's used works.
It's not too surprising that it took Nintendo developing a game itself for the whole connectivity idea to really crystallize. The key to the success of this game is that the game is inherently really good, with or without the hardware novelty. But, to be fair, if you only play Four Swords Adventures by yourself, you won't be getting the full experience. If you've been waiting for a truly compelling reason to invest in a GameCube-to-GBA link cable, this is probably it.
- Intense competition: Engage in online multiplayer action on more than a dozen maps with up to 24 players.
- Engaging story: An all-new single-player mode drops you deep into a war obscured by deception and propaganda.
- Unique gameplay: Become anyone in your army with the new Hot-Swapping feature—take total control of each soldier’s unique skills.
- Varied arsenal: Own the battlefield with more than 30 land, sea, and air vehicles, and more than 50 state-of-the-art weapons.
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell™
Developer & Publisher: Ubisoft
Splinter Cell Wiki
Game Rating: T (Teen) [Blood and Gore, Violence]
Release Date: April 8, 2003
$49.99 / $7.99 EB Games
480p, Dolby Pro Logic II
One of the most popular, most successful, and best looking games for Microsoft's Xbox is now on the GameCube, and in some respects it's better than the original. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is a stealth-driven action adventure that sends you, as operative Sam Fisher, around the globe on numerous highly secretive and very dangerous assignments. It all goes down like something straight out of a Hollywood action thriller, complete with plenty of big-budget production values. The game isn't above reproach: Just like its Xbox counterpart, Splinter Cell for the GameCube is a relatively short single-player-only game consisting of heavily scripted missions that can sometimes turn into trial-and-error exercises that undermine the game's otherwise pervasive sense of suspense. The graphics have also lost some of their luster in translation, though some worthwhile new features and gameplay tweaks make Splinter Cell for the GameCube more than just a watered down Xbox port. And at its core, it's a great action game, one that's already met with tremendous acclaim.