The long wait is over, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game is finally on store shelves. This latest version of Ghostbusters is a landmark of sorts, as its creation was aided by those that made the movies themselves; in a way, it’s accepted Ghostbusters canon, as it acts like the third movie in the series. The gameplay is solid, the more performance oriented work is just as good, and they add up to be worth more than the sum of their parts.
This particular review deals with the Wii version, which was developed by Red Fly Studios rather than Terminal Reality–they handled the Xbox 360, PC and PS3 versions of the title. Red Fly is also the developer of Mushroom Men: The Spore Wars, which was noted for its atmosphere, art style and mood, set by the graphical style and the music. Those very same elements permeate your Ghostbusters experience, and help make this game plenty of fun on its own, even sans the photo-realistic graphics of its console cousins.
Developer: Red Fly Studios
June 16, 2009
Rather than port the game over, Red Fly built the game from the ground up for Wii. While the story remains the same, and the game retains the fantastic voice acting of the original cast (Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson, among others, all return to play the parts they made famous), the graphical style is more cartoony in nature. This isn’t a bad thing though–the Ghostbusters have been done in cartoon form before, and this style fits the Ghostbusters universe very well. Look no further than some of the creatures you will face, or the environments you will visit, or the highly-stylized caricatures of the men in beige, and you will see what I mean. The Wii does stylized very well, and Red Fly and Ghostbusters nailed that.
Gl33k, who so successfully created the music in Mushroom Men along with Les Claypool, return to help with Ghostbusters, and even without the metronome-based tunes, the sounds and music do much to add to the experience. It’s not quite survival horror fare, but it fits the mood and helps immerse you in the experience of chasing down ghosts through abandoned buildings, cemetaries and haunted hotels. The pace picks up when you start to wrangle ghosts, which serves to build tension and keep you in the moment. It’s all very effective, and a welcome addition.
So Ghostbusters Wii has a nifty look, and it sounds great, both musically and in its more movie-oriented moments. How does it play? Well, if you’ve ever wanted to strap on a proton pack, but can’t cart around 100 lbs. for very long–or you know, aren’t well versed in creating proton-powered beams capable of capturing the paranormal–then the Wii Remote is the closest you are going to get. Ghostbusters basically plays as a third-person shooter where you fire at ghosts to weaken them until you can capture them. When you hit that point, a capture cage automatically envelops them, and then you have to slam them around the room using motion-based quick time events. As with many other games that utilize motion QTE, they work well, and feel more satisfying than the twitch, button based variety. While this mechanic could become repetitive, there is enough variation in the types of enemies you will face and the ways you have to approach them that the wrangling retains its fun factor throughout, especially as the ghosts become more powerful and your allied ‘Busters start to drop like flies around you. Catching ghosts is a cinch too, as you just press Z and make a bowling motion with the nunchuk; if you don’t feel like throwing a trap out, don’t worry, as the other Ghostbusters almost always throw you out a few to make your life easier.