Scooby Doo in the Castle Mystery

1986 Elite

Platforms: ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64

Scooby shot 1Dragons Lair was a technical marvel in the early 80s with its impressive Laser Disc technology. Elite jumped on the bandwagon with their licence of the popular cartoon series.

Whereas Dragons Lair was heavily changed for its home conversions, Elite decided to go one better. Originally starting out as a text only adventure, the plan for Scooby Doo grew to include pictures and finally extra interactivity to turn it into an 8-bit laser disc game.

The game was to be set around a castle belonging to Shaggy’s aunt, with all sorts of ghostly goings on. All the popular characters were to be present, and their job would have been to try and solve what was behind the mysterious occurrences at the castle. Various adverts and previews were shown in magazines, depicting a very impressive game.

It was to be something never seen before on any 8-bit. You would direct the action yourself, and not be restricted as much like with other games at the time. The game would feature around 8 action sequences, separated by descriptive scenes where the main characters would interact.

Action sequences would focus on Scooby and Shaggy searching the castle through different view points, helping them solve various problems occurring along the way. The action would be driven by the player, making decisions like a movie director might make. The breakaway to descriptive scenes would give hints and tips to aid your mystery solving.

All sound effects were synchronised with the action, creating the perfect illusion of watching a cartoon, but with interaction. For variety, each new game would present new problems and obstacles, creating a fresh experience each time.

Scooby shot 2

It was never going to be easy trying to cram this game into an 8-bit. Accurate animations and scenes were made after plenty of research by the artists with the cartoons. Programmers had the hefty task of trying to squeeze it all into memory.

At the time, Crash magazine visited the developers and they were confident that they had everything ready and would be able to fit everything in.

Sadly their confidence was shattered, and Elite conceded that it couldn’t be done. It was too much, too soon and Elite had to back down on their ambitious project.

Now with all the costly advertising, Elite were stuck without a game to market, so Gargoyle Games were drafted in to do a quick game for them to make something back. Our promised Laser disc game was transformed into an average platform affair.

It is possible that the original game still exists, with Elite still going strong today in the mobile games market. Maybe well one day get to see it in action in one form or another.

8 Responses to Scooby Doo in the Castle Mystery

  1. That sounds very promising and exactly the type of research i kinda expect to find from a professional publication.

    I know a lot of freelancers out there use Facebook etc to contact people, which is fantastic, as it’s something i refuse to use :-), so i’m more often than not restricted to exactly who i can reach out and ask Q’s about myself.

    A well fleshed-out, properly researched and written article or 3 per magazine can justify my purchase these days, but i so rarely buy any magazines these days, the exact opposite, in fact i start to woirry about the recycling staff, as you should see the pile of old mags out for collection this week alone.

    Still, after your words, i might just be tempted to see if i can find a copy of the latest issue of RG myself in the locals down here…

  2. Other than seeming to say the CPC version was never actually started, does the RG article add much to what’s already known on the game?

    For example, in the 18 months or so, since the inital annoucement, Elite simply produced a run of the mill Kung Fu Master-esq affair, which if you took out the Scooby Doo Sprites, could of been any average game and the cheeck beggars had released the final game at £9.95, when originally the game was set to retail at £7.95, so consumers paid more, for far less of a game.

    Just wondering as no point purchasing the mag, just for a few extra snippets.

    • Still not had chance to read, but i’ll update once I have. Rory has done a good job by the looks of things – even spoke to a guy from Gargoyle Games, which could be interesting.

  3. Looking back at some of the claims UK Press have made, a lot of them i guess are just based on what they were told by various P.R departments, ie Raze claiming 7800 Turrican would be running at the Atari show, these are fair enough, they can only run with what they are given.

    But it’s things like Zzap 64’s/Atari Users show report claims that they had seen A8 Adam Caveman/CPC Scooby Doo running, that winds me up, that an likes of Mean Machines/Edge knowingly passing off mock-up screens as actual in-game stuff (might be due to pressure from PR, might be need to just put any screen up to promote game, i’m not sure), along with Edge etc that falsely quote coders as having said X,Y and Z.

    Like you say i doubt very much that at the time they ever thought likes of us would, years later look closely into such claims, but when i see people on Unseen64 etc making up false claims over likes of Croc III, i do wonder what on earth they hope to achive, as they must realise said claims will be looked into?.

  4. Thanks Frank :-)

    There’s no way i can justify purchasing a magazine just for the hope it sheds a glimmer of light on what became of 1 version of this game, espically when i never personally rated the cartoon, if i’m honest.

    From what your saying here, Zzap64 sailed straight into that classic area of UK Press, false claim being made (in this case they’d seen the CPC version) and thus in 1 foul swoop, creating false hope that footage/code might still remain.

    Why did they do it/is it still done i wonder?.

    Not just ZZap64, but Raze with 7800 Turrican, Ace/Zero with 7800 Gauntlet, TGM with A8 Druid, Atari User with A8 Adam Caveman and so on and so on.

    Just report on what actually existed, don’t go on P.R claims or make stuff up.

    It’s created a lot of extra work for those of us who now look into lost games, has it not?.

    • I’d guess the press never imagined the game wouldn’t appear, and wanted to generate a bit of hype to get people excited about the game coming out. So in the end there was inevitably a bit of going “over the top” and over excitement. I suspect they could never imagine that there would be digital archivists years later using their words for information! :)

      I think there was a bit of an inkling of there being no game as such, as the screenshots all had the paint tool commands in teh background. They probably had a few sequences animating too. The article suggests that all the artwork is still on old microdisks and could be preserved some time soon!

  5. From Zzap64’s Elite’s Arcade Bonanza (October 1986, P83)

    They say it became apparent in a few weeks, that the inital home laser disc-esq game, was going to be an impossible task and they had also seen the Amstrad CPC version…

    So, do we know which versions were actually started and if any of the code remains to this day?

    • From the recent RG feature (which i’ve not properly read yet), it seems to claim that the game was only started on the Spectrum and it was mostly just loads of scene screens. Not much (if any) action.

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