TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO a group of veteran comedians from the US show Saturday Night Live starred in a comedy about a group of scientists who catch ghosts for a living. The fi lm was a hit, spawning a sequel, lunch boxes, computer games, comics and a Saturday morning cartoon. Those of us around in the 1980s will vividly remember Ray Parker Jr. asking us, “Who you gonna call?” That film was Ghostbusters and, naturally, this silver anniversary of the original movie release is a good time for a new Ghostbusters video game. Earlier this month Atari invited Game Console to try out some preview code of Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
The game starts with the old 1980s Columbia Pictures logo, which immediately grabbed the attention of my inner fi lm geek. This was followed by a very nice-looking pre-rendered faux advert for the Ghostbusters featuring the familiar faces of Egon Spengler, Ray Stanz and Peter Venkman.
The game story has been written by Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd, who also wrote the movies, so the dialogue is spot on. Joined by the vocals of fellow original cast members Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson, we get Peter Venkman’s quips, Ray’s deadpan seriousness and Egon’s egghead musings; topped off with Winston Zeddemore as the everyman voice of reason. Shame it wasn’t enough to coax the fabulous Rick Moranis from retirement. Also, disappointingly, there’s no Sigourney Weaver as Bill Murray’s love interest. Not that we can complain, as anything that gets the comedy dream team of Aykroyd, Ramis and Murray together is worth the price of the ticket alone!
The first mission is a tutorial sequence that involves hunting down and catching the green Slimer from the fi rst movie, who has just escaped from Ghostbusters HQ. You play as a newly and conveniently recruited rookie charged with testing Egon’s newly developed prototype ghostbusting equipment. This plot device allows for equipment upgrades as the game progresses and the restless spirits get harder to beat. The game has no heads-up display (HUD), with your stats cunningly represented in-game by the lights on the rookie’s proton backpack.
The environments are destructible, allowing the staple Ghostbusters gag of completely wrecking the haunted building, doing more damage than the ghosts themselves. Slimer leads the Ghostbusters to the Hotel Sedgewick, giving you the opportunity to completely trash the building, much to the annoyance of the hotel manager.
All the old favourites are here: Slimer, the librarian ghost, Gozer and the fabulous Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, represented in his full-sized gigantic stature. One level features an epic largescale battle against the Marshmallow Man himself (think huge marshmallow foot trying to stomp you). The game uses the original Ghostbusters score, which hasn’t aged very well, but seems to maintain the 80s feel of the game, set shortly after the events of Ghostbusters II.
Busting ghosts is a lot of fun. First, you must search for the ghosts using your night-vision/P.K. meter. Next, you put down the trap, catch the ghost in your beam and, using a variety of moves to slam the ghost into the ground, beat it into submission. You must then fight to guide it over to the top of the trap, where it is sucked in and caught.
The designers have done a fi ne job of recreating the world of Ghostbusters. It’s as if you are watching a lost Ghostbusters movie. The graphics are top notch, with well-crafted environments and character models. It’s also worth noting that the menu screen included an enticing multiplayer option that was unavailable on the preview copy. Co-op busting with friends would be cool.
With the Blu-ray and DVD movie re-release of Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, as well as the Internet buzz regarding a possible third movie, it’s like the Ghostbusters have never been away. Bustin’ made us feel good and it’ll probably make you feel good as well.