Scooby-Doo, as with any popular franchise, has tons of toys and games and anything else that they can plaster that scaredy dog’s goofy mug onto. Board games are no exception.
Welcome back to another Board Game Retro. Last time, we took a look at Dune and how bonkers off the wall amazing it is. Today we’re looking at an equally well known and loved science fiction franchise.
Pictured: Science Fiction
Scooby-Doo Game: Where Are You! Released in 1973 by Milton Bradley. I think it’s worth pointing out that the show’s “final” episode aired in 1970, three years before. Granted it got revived eight years later, but that’s not important right now. What is important is how HORRIBLY WRONG everything about this game is!
So, let’s begin.
Mystery Inc: Treasure Hunters
Ask anyone what is the one thing that Scooby and the gang are best at, and they will probably say something like, “Meeting various 70’s celebrities?”.
While correct, the answer we wanted was “Solving mysteries.” That’s their whole thing. That’s all they do. Dealing with a monster-of-the-week shtick decades before Buffy the Vampire Slayer ever did.
So, when the Scooby Doo board game lists the game objective as…
…treasure hunting, you can be sure this game is going to be a doozy.
The ONE THING Scooby Doo is known for, the WHOLE POINT of the show and dozens of spinoffs never diverts from solving mysteries! And it’s definitely never treasure hunting!
Okay, fine. Yeah, in Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, Shaggy is trying to hunt for his uncle’s treasure, but that didn’t come out until 1987, so that doesn’t count. Also, The Pup Who Shall Not Be Named is in that one, so we don’t talk about it.
So, sure. Whatever. Mystery Inc has gotta pay the bills somehow. So they’re going treasure hunting. I can live with that. Let’s ignore the senselessness of the story and move onto the game. How’s it play?
No big surprise.
It’s a simple roll and move type of game which was very popular at the time.
Each player takes their token and starts by the Mystery Machine in the lower left of the board.
Wait… what’s that?
I’m so upset right now.
They couldn’t even get the color of the Mystery Machine right! It wouldn’t have to be perfect, could just be blue and green without that many details. But why pink?! Pink is literally the opposite of green! Ask any color theorist. They took the time to make sure they got everyone’s seating position right, but couldn’t be bothered to make sure they didn’t use completely the wrong color. Great, moving on.
Once everyone gets started, the gameplay follows typical pre-Catan gameplay: Roll to move, hope you win. Rather than use dice like any normal and sensible game, Scooby Doo uses a spinner set into the box insert.
To advance past an X or a blue space, the player must land exactly on it. Otherwise, you stay where you are. Board Game Geek lists this game as playing in 20 minutes. I don’t know where they got that information, because I can’t imagine anyone’s actually taken the time to finish even that. Regardless, the only reason the game takes that long at all is because you have to wait at those spots until you roll just right.
Nothing is better than pointless filler in a board game!
“Designer: Uncredited” means “I don’t want my name on this”
“Artist: N/A.” Yeah, no kidding.
Also, as an aside, do me a favor for a minute. Scroll back up to the board and try to follow the path you’re supposed to take. Maybe I’m an idiot, but it took me several passes before I figured it out and I’m still not sure I have it right. Anyway, moving on.
You’re in the home stretch; you made it through the Torture Chamber which we’re going to not talk about and to the Secret Passage. Here’s where the game decides to get wacky! As soon as you land on the X space for the Secret Passage, you draw a card and do what it says. Half of them send you backward, adding even more excruciating gameplay to this horrible mess of a game.
Also, that’s the only time you actually draw a card. That’s it. Just when you reach the Secret Passage. They could have added other spaces or anytime you reach a Blue space, but no. Just that one time. That’s enough. Don’t want to over-complicate the game, right?
First one to reach the treasure wins. Cool. Good job. Whatever. We’re done now.
It shouldn’t bother me this much but I’ve always really liked Scooby Doo, and when I found this game, I was hoping it wouldn’t be garbage, but in my heart, I knew it would be. Nothing about it makes any sense. There are not even any monsters! The box art shows a monster! Where’s that werewolf? I wanna trap the werewolf! This could have been a fantastic Mouse Trap-like game or something. Having to gather clues then when you have enough you can try to trap the monster, using Scooby and Shaggy lure the monster into a not-so-cleverly hidden trap. So much potential! But no, instead we got this mess.
This is your fault, Jones.
There is literally nothing about this game that actually has anything to do with Scooby Doo.
So that’s ‘Scooby Doo Game: Where Are You!’. I hope you’re as upset as I am.
Even the title is clunky and poorly designed.