Hi-tec's range of Hanna-Barbera licences haven't been anything to get worked up about before now. The average-to-OK Yogi's Great Escape was about as good as they got, with Top Cat, Ruff And Reddy, Defenders Of The Earth and Wacky Races all being a bit on the crap side.
I wasn't, then, particularly looking forward to this 'amazing and breathtaking arcade adventure' featuring the annoying little character who ruined the once-classic Scooby Doo cartoon, so imagine my surprise (but luckily I saw the funny side) when it turned out to be Mr. Wilson the caretaker after - er, sorry, when it turned out to be an absolute honey of a game.
It's strongly similar in feel and basic structure to Titus' wonderful Blues Brothers - although it lacks the incredible polish of that game - with a distinct flavour of Core's Chuck Rock and several console games too (particularly the Game Boy's Super Mario Land).
Play takes place over nine enormous levels, each with loads of secret things to discover (look out for the ice world, Red Dwarf fans!), hidden bonus rooms and power-ups and all that sort of thing, and each featuring striking cartoony graphics with extremely impressive multi-layered parallax scrolling.
Play is fast, smooth and easy to control, and the Scrappy character (you don't actually get to play Scooby once in the game!) is a lot more lovable than he ought to be. The pugilistic pup can jump on his enemies to kill them (in the best Mario tradition), or biff them with a power-upable punch in the style of Dynamite Dux, while certain baddies can actually be put to good use to help Scrappy, in much the same way as in Chuck Rock.
Our hero has three lives, with an extra one granted for collecting 15 Scooby Snacks, and a couple of continues are available after the first stage, giving you a fair chance of getting to the end.
On first play I thought this was a respectable little cheapy runaround with maybe a couple of nice touches, but the more I get into it the more I love it. As you progress, the levels get bigger and smarter, with enough exploration potential to keep you amused for weeks. Addiction-wise it's got more pull than an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner, and while it's a shame Hi-Tec couldn't fork out the extra dosh to use the proper theme tune, the in-game music you do get is appropriate enough, in a cheesy kind of way, or you can always have some sweetly cheap sound effects instead.
My only real quibble is that the potential of Scooby himself (a classic game character if ever there was one) is completely ignored, but at the end of the day, who cares? What you get here is (for my money) the best original budget game ever, and that's really all you need to know. Buy it.