Ghostbusters: The Video Game – A Definitive Bustin’ Experience
The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife got me all excited to toss out particle streams while listening to paranormal jargon. Took me back to making cardboard box proton packs as a kid. So, what did I reach for? Ghostbusters: The Video Game, easily the finest representation of ghostbusting in video games (sorry, Ghosthunter). It’s hard to deny the appeal of battling phantoms with the original movie cast. Especially in a game that captures the humor of the movies while also giving players a solid action game.
You get to join the team as a new recruit, gaining access to all of the new, experimental technology that the Ghostbusters been working on. Because it might explode. But it probably won’t during time with the gang, right? Although they’re not too keen on getting to know your name at first, what with the possibility of your exploding. Still, that means you get a proton pack, traps, and all kinds of goodies on your first day.
For me, seeing that proton pack on my character’s back took me to many afternoons spent making one of my own out of stuff around the house. Ghostbusters: The Video Game captures the look of the original gear from the movie perfectly, right down to the arcing, swirling beams that come out when you fire it. The developers also seamlessly incorporated your health and ammo bar (since it’s an energy beam, it overheats) into the pack. It managed to not only be a great representation of the iconic Ghostbusters weapon, but also a great source of gameplay information as well.
This sort of care went into all sorts of elements of the game’s presentation. The fire house home base is full of nods to the movies and lore. You can even talk to the painting of Vigo in headquarters, hearing all manner of goofy lines from it. The original movie cast came back to play their characters for the game. The original writers created the story. The in-game ghosts were all created with an eye for the various spectres that showed up in the movies. Every element of this game draws from the movies to create an experience that feels like really living that ghostbusting life.
The weapons of Ghostbusters: The Video Game captured that special feel as well. The proton pack makes the player blast the ghosts with the stream for a period of time to weaken it. It’s not just a shooter with a ghostbusting theme, though. You also have to wrestle with the ghost once it’s low on health. These means dragging and pulling it to get it into the trap, rather than just blasting it to death. Re-death?
You can use this capture beam to slam the ghost into things to make it put up less of a fight, shifting from a straight shooter to this battle of strength. You can bash it against walls and objects to make it calm down. Can even just slam it down into the trap for an easy capture when you get good at it. This turns ghost busting into a struggle with different phases, making every foe a fun event. It also really looks and feels like the action from the movies, pulling you into that fantasy I often lived as a child. It doesn’t hurt that the sound design captures it all just as I remembered it. That proton pack activation sound? The beam? Unforgettable, and captured in this game just as I remembered them.
Experiencing Ghostbusters: The Video Game with the original cast by your side connects you to that experience even more. Hearing Ray, Egon, Winston, and Peter quipping back and forth as ghosts hurtle over your head added to the delightful experience. It feels like you’re living through one of the movies (unsurprising, given the actors and writers all coming back to work on it). It doesn’t hurt that Ray is such a supportive pal as you learn the ropes of the job. The others do warm up to you over the course of the game, too, joking with you like a pal. The writing and acting really make you feel like you grow to be part of the team. Even if they never learn your name.
Being part of the team involves taking some of the blame, too. Your work involves using dangerous, explosive tech. Sometimes, that means you burn a few holes in the wall. Blow up some furniture. Rip up most of a city block. It’s a hazardous job, and the game keeps track of the damages you do to the surrounding area. It’s a silly, small touch, but seeing the cost of your actions added to the light humor of the game. You get a taste of why folks might not be too keen on seeing the gang show up at their hotel. Even if phantom bellhops are tearing up the lobby.
On top of being everything I imagined the experience would be as a kid, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is also a solid horror game. There’s many creative ghost designs throughout the game. Many of them have wild behaviors that create interesting mechanics or environments. Many of them capture that eerie claymation look that helped mix horror and comedy in the original movies. Something about that claymation style manages to be silly, yet completely messed up. It creates something you’ll laugh at in the daylight, but see in your nightmares in the evening.
If you like the idea of seeing the lore laid out as I mentioned before, the game features many bits of story and background on its ghosts as you play. You can scan ghosts and collect items that all give you a deeper glimpse into the background of the franchise. These little tidbits made for some great reading, and also offered some comical nods to other famous movies and characters.
As someone who was flooded with good memories watching the Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer, Ghostbusters: The Video Game made for something fantastic to play while waiting for the film. It captures all of the neat weaponry, unsettling spirits, the playful writing, and the camaraderie of the cast that made the original movies so endearing. It’s the definitive experience for anyone who ever pretended to shoot proton beams at ghosts.