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Time Bustin’ 102 minutes
Vinz Clortho Review
I love this town!
The Traveler Review
There are few movies from the 1980s that have stood the test of time like Ghostbusters. Aside from the legwarmers, and eyeglasses you could use to count the craters on Oberon, the movie holds up quite well.
The movie's tie-in games hold up too. There was an arcade game that I recall liking quite a bit, probably because it was basically just an occult skin over Ikari Warriors, and my kids seem to enjoy watching walkthroughs of the one that came out on the Sega Genesis. A brief Duck-Duck-Go search also turns up evidence of a Commodore 64 game that got ported to the NES and looks like Spy Hunter crossed with Kaboom!
While I don’t have any great affection for Ghostbusters 2, I enjoyed it for what it was. There were some good gags in it, even if they tended toward the schtick, and Peter Macnicol is always watchable. I always considered it something of a shame that they didn’t get to do another sequel. The one from 2016 doesn’t count, as it was a reboot, and I don’t truck with reboots (and before you say anything, I haven’t seen any of the new Star Trek movies either, nor have I watched the Vince Vaughn version of Psycho. I’ll put up with a lot of crap in a sequel, but if you think you can mess with the canon you can seek your audience elsewhere.)
In 2009, Atari (who else?) partnered with Terminal Reality to make a sequel, but in videogame form. Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd penned the script, which is a strike in its favor as far as I’m concerned, and Terminal Reality did the gameplay. You might remember them from Bloodrayne and a series of Monster Truck licensed games.
Ok, so we’re batting five hundred. But then they got (most of) the original cast back together, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. As it turns out, Terminal Reality cranked out a decent third-person shooter, while Aykroyd and Ramis pulled together a satisfying love letter to the fans. For a movie-licensed game, you can’t really ask much more than that.
The game takes place a few years after the events of Ghostbusters 2, and you play as the unnamed new-hire (Dr. Venkman refuses to say the new guy’s name, just in case anyone gets attached to him). You’re in charge of testing new hardware and busting some heads, in a spiritual sense.
The first hour of the game is, as I said, a real love letter to those of us who still watch the original movie periodically. After Slimer breaches containment and escapes, you head back to the Sedgewick hotel – to come, to see and to kick some butt. That simple tutorial-mission eventually ends with you chasing the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man all over town, while listening to some first-rate banter from the original four ghostbusters.
As a third-person shooter, I’m gratified to tell you that there is no cover mechanic, and no platforming. There is no button for crouching or jumping, in fact. You are, after all, wearing a particle accelerator on your back. A rolling dodge would probably wipe out half the city. No, Ghostbusters sticks to a light jog, a sidestep and forgiving aim mechanics.
Catching ghosts is simply fun. You wear the ghost’s stamina down by shooting proton streams at it. Once the “health” bar is in the red, you can throw a containment beam and guide the ghost to an available trap. They throw in some ghost-wrangling complexity, a la Luigi’s Mansion, and you have to monitor your teammates to keep them upright and helping. These dynamics combine with the solid proton-pack controls to create a satisfyingly tactical experience.
There’s more to the game than catching ghosts, though. Sometimes you have to find ghosts to catch, and that’s where the PKE meter comes in. Periodically you’ll have to explore a location with the ghostbuster equivalent of Detective Mode enabled. I can’t tell what they were going for in these moments, because the radio banter between the team bleeds off any tension there might be, and you’re never truly in any danger. It’s too funny to go for a Layers of Fear vibe, and too easy to go for a SOMA feel. It feels more like someone said “Hey, there’s ghosts! We should make it feel like a horror game, sorta.” The PKE meter is fun to use, though. It operates on a cold-hot-hotter mechanic, and occasionally it leads you to props from the movies, which then show up in your catalog for leisurely perusal.
To sum up, The Ghostbusters video game is like a Twinkie which represents all of the fun and fan service that they could cram into a licensed video game. By my calculations, it would be a Twinkie about thirty five feet long, weighing approximately six hundred pounds.
Does bustin’ still make me feel good?
The answer to that question is the same as the answer you give if someone asks if you’re a god.
Of course, you say “yes.”
Is it the Dark Souls of licensed games?
Ghostbusters isn’t an easy game. The other members of the team tend to get knocked around a lot, and you spend a fair amount of time rushing around to revive them while trying to not get killed, which is hard to do because you’re usually rushing into a swarm of ghosts to do it. If you ignore the fallen busters, they won’t die, but neither will they be available to revive you when you inevitably fall down.
That said, it’s not overly difficult either. As I said, the PKE ghost hunts are engaging, but simple, and you’re able to earn currency at an alarming rate, so leveling up your proton pack to be more powerful is no problem at all.
As I’m writing this, I think I’m coming to the conclusion that the difficulty is just right. It’s kind of refreshing, actually. Well done!