Scooby-Doo & Scrappy-Doo (8-bit and 16-bit)

Scrappy-Doo is one of my favourite cartoon characters of all time. Originally created in the late 1970s in order to rescue the Scooby-Doo TV series from its then-impending cancellation, Scrappy was very popular, and kept the show on the air for around another decade, before networks finally found that the formulas had grown too thin to keep viewers' interest at that time.

If this perhaps sounds like an unusual account of Scrappy-Doo's history to you, that would be because it's factual. For some reason, a loud but very tiny minority of people who for whatever reason really didn't like this particular cartoon character later embarked on a bizarre effort to rewrite the history surrounding him, and this rewritten history became so prevalent that most people now don't know the facts. I'll shift to animation enthusiast mode and write some thoughts on that at the end of this blog entry, such that that part can be skipped if it doesn't interest you, but for now, all you need to know is that Scrappy-Doo was popular enough that he landed himself no less than two computer games in which he was the hero.


These two games were made specifically for the UK market in 1991, and were budget releases for the 8-bit and 16-bit home computer platforms of the time. The 8-bit version appeared on the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC 464, and the ZX Spectrum, and the 16-bit version appeared on the Atari ST and the Amiga. Both carried the name Scooby-Doo & Scrappy-Doo, but apart from the fact that both are arcade-style platform games which share some gameplay elements, the 8-bit and 16-bit titles are both different games.

It's claimed that the 16-bit version of the game was re-branded from another work-in-progress title, due to a cheat which allows you to play as a character called "Stig the Rat", though I've never found any confirmation as to whether this is true or not. It doesn't appear that the 8-bit version was a re-branded game. I am uncertain which version came first.

You play as Scrappy-Doo, who is tasked with rescuing Scooby and Shaggy, who are missing for different reasons in the different versions of the game - in the 8-bit game, they've been pursued by spooks and have gone missing, and in the 16-bit one they've been kidnapped by an unpleasant-sounding chap by the name of Baron Von Drak, and taken to an equally unpleasant-sounding place called the Isle of Sorrows. In the 8-bit versions, your only real weapon is your ability to punch (well, Scrappy is a fighter!), and you can also pull off a "mega punch" by holding down the fire button for a couple of seconds and then releasing it (in the 8-bit releases, this is the only way to defeat some enemies, though it seems to serve little purpose in the 16-bit game), and it also must sometimes be used to knock out pieces of scenery in order to progress. The 16-bit title also allows you to jump on the heads of enemies in order to defeat them. As well as fighting, you also get to use a flying skateboard very much like the one that would be featured in the MS-DOS game, Jazz Jackrabbit, several years later, and the 16-bit versions also allow you to use a pogo stick at some points, as well.



The definitive versions of Scooby-Doo & Scrappy-Doo are the C64 and Atari ST releases, as they're the versions that are the most polished and atmospheric. Both feature spot-on animation for Scrappy, and fit right in with the franchise as a whole. As far as the 8-bit versions go, the C64 release happens to be the one which plays the best. With the 16-bit versions, the only real difference is that the Atari ST release has a great deal of polish that doesn't seem to be present in the Amiga version, and the Amiga version has some slightly upgraded and sometimes differently-coloured graphics - gameplay-wise, they are identical.

Neither of these games was ever going to set the world on fire, but both are competent, fun platformers, and are worth a look. For the prices they were originally sold at, they represented very good value for money.

Animation Enthusiast Mode On

The popular story goes that, once Scrappy-Doo was introduced to the Scooby-Doo series in 1979, the show quickly became disliked, and was cancelled shortly thereafter. This is, in fact, utter rubbish, and the opposite is the real truth - Scrappy helped to prevent the programme's cancellation, and it ran for around another decade before being put on hiatus. Whilst it is true that he wasn't necessarily well-liked amongst some of those who worked on the character, Scrappy was not unpopular as far as viewing figures for the next decade went. Indeed, in the UK, Scooby-Doo & Scrappy-Doo remained on terrestrial television well into the early 1990s, and all of the series that Scrappy featured in remained popular fixtures on cable and satellite television until the early to mid 2000s.

The cable and satellite showings also gave well-deserved extra exposure to the little-known series, The Thirteen Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, which was the first Scooby-Doo series to feature a serialised, overarching story, and which featured Scrappy as one of the primary cast, now able to play more of a role than the rigid formula from before had allowed him to. It also contained one of the late roles of Vincent Price, as Vincent Van Ghoul, a warlock who was based, unsurprisingly, on Vincent Price.

Plenty of Scrappy-Doo merchandise was produced from the mid-1980s up until the mid-2000s. It's clear that there was demand for goods featuring the character to be mass-produced over a span of multiple decades, thus presenting a mystery worthy of Scooby and the Gang themselves as to why this was so suddenly stopped, as well as where the myth that nobody ever liked Scrappy-Doo actually originated from.

A comprehensive history of Scrappy-Doo's creation, written by Mark Evanier, one of the people who helped to bring the character to the screen, can be found here, and is well worth a read if you're interested in animation writing and history in any way.

Animation Enthusiast Mode Off

In my opinion it's a bit of a shame that Scrappy-Doo never gets a chance at retro re-runs or new appearances these days, and I think that it's just as much of a shame that we certainly won't be seeing another game starring him, in the style of the two that were covered here, today.


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