Ghostbusters: The Video Game came out in 2009 and was praised for its loyalty to the source material and its fun gameplay. The title had a rough development cycle but the inclusion of the four actors from the original films and some of the supporting cast kept the title strong even through the trouble. The game enjoyed a niche following from Ghostbusters fans around the world, but everyone should give it a go. Here’s why.
In case you somehow don’t know, Ghostbusters is a 1984 sci-fi comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson as paranormal investigators and eliminators in New York City. The film juxtaposes the fantastical elements of the spirit world against a very mundane setting, with the Ghostbusters being very similar to pest exterminators. The movie was a smash hit leading to a sequel, two cartoon series, and, of course, video game adaptations.
Early Ghostbusters games were not particularly good, with the Sega Genesis offering being a stand out in a crowd of bland games that didn’t take full advantage of the license. The popularity of Ghostbusters died out over the years but Sony (who purchased Columbia Studios, the makers of Ghostbusters) always wanted to find a way to relaunch the brand. While rumors of a third movie swirled around for two decades, Ghostbusters fans finally got something tangible in the form of Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
The game’s story takes place about two years after the second movie in the series and sees the Ghostbusters hiring a new recruit (the player) to test their dangerous experimental equipment. A sudden resurgence in paranormal activity thrusts the group back into action against some new foes and some familiar baddies.
The first reason that people who have seen the movie (which I would recommend doing before playing this if you’ve never seen it) should play this game is that the original cast all come back to lend their likeness and their voices. Comedy legends like Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd bring a ton of great humor to the voice over throughout the course of the game and the involvement of the original writers (Aykroyd and Ramis) assures that the characterization stays true to the tone of the original.
While the big names like Murray and Aykroyd are in the game, most of the supporting cast members also came back for this installment into the franchise. Winston Zeddemore (played by Ernie Hudson) was always my favorite Ghostbuster so seeing him in this game was great, along with the Ghostbusters’ secretary Janine Melnitz (played by Annie Potts) and the EPA agent everyone loves to hate, Walter Peck (played by William Atherton).
While there were some notable exceptions to the cast (Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis did not participate) the star power that is there lends a lot of authenticity to the game. The game also utilizes the first movie’s soundtrack to enhance the experience and make the entire game feel like it truly takes place in the movie world. The little details are all so spot on to the Ghostbusters universe that it truly makes this the most authentic and engaging Ghostbusters world ever in a video game.
While the game does strike out into new territory with many new enemies, it also allows the player to do battle with some of the most iconic ghosts from the movie. Slimer, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and the librarian ghost (from the beginning of the first movie) all make appearances and provide some great moments for the game.
One of the best parts of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is the mechanic for catching ghosts that has been described as “upside down fishing.” While there are a variety of enemies that the player can dispatch with different equipment, the real draw of the game is using the iconic Proton Pack and Ghost Trap to reel in “traditional” ghosts.
A striking thing about the game that truly explains why it works so well is that the mechanic feels so right even though no one knows what “right” actually feels like. As far as I know, no one has captured a ghost with a nuclear accelerator but I can say beyond a doubt that if someone had, this game captures what that would feel like.
There is also a good amount of gameplay variety that keeps the game from getting boring and the story will keep players entertained throughout the six to eight hour main campaign. This is all augmented by a fun multiplayer experience that sees players working together to capture ghosts, protect artifacts, or just survive until the end.
The final reason that you should check out this game if you haven’t is that it is full of fan service. Diehard Ghostbusters fans have probably already played this game over and over but if you are even just a casual fan of the movies you will find a lot of cool stuff in this game. Talking to the painting of Vigo the Carpathian or sliding down the pole in the firehouse are fun little tidbits that flesh out the experience and really make you feel like you are in the movie world. There are also a ton of little Easter eggs all over the game that reference things like the cartoons, fan films, and even the NES Ghostbusters game. Exploring the game world is a lot of fun and another reason you should give this game a try.
If you have seen the Ghostbusters movies but never tried the video game then I would strongly urge you to give it a shot. If nothing else, this is probably as close as we’ll ever get to a third movie in the franchise so why not?