Ghostbusters: The Video Game Review

By James Youngblood - Posted Jun 15, 2009

Over twenty years have passed since Ray, Egon, Peter, and the rest of the gang set up shop in an abandoned New York firehouse to do what makes them feel good – busting ghost. While several games have come out since then about their exploits, few have gotten the nod from the main guys themselves like this new version has.

The Pros
  • Fun and interesting story
  • All the original cast members
  • Big boss battles
The Cons
  • Lots of loadings screens
  • Half-baked mechanics
  • Repetitive gameplay

Over twenty years have passed since Ray, Egon, Peter, and the rest of the gang set up shop in an abandoned New York firehouse to do what makes them feel good – busting ghosts. While several games have come out since then about their exploits, few have gotten the nod from the main guys themselves like this new version. Coming out on all three platforms, the Wii version of Ghostbusters not only looks but plays differently than the other two versions. Will this be a case of the Wii getting leftovers or getting a makeover? 

HOLDIN’! SMOKIN’! READY!

Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the WiiThe good docs are back to their ghostbusting action like it’s the 80’s all over again. The newly re-elected mayor has promised to take care of the Ghostbuster’s bills and that means an expansion for the business. As the fresh (male or female) face off the street, you’ll be in charge of testing all the new equipment for the unlicensed nuclear accelerator stepped to your back. Fortunately for you, Gozer-like anomalies (the main baddie from the first Ghostbusters movie) have reared their ugly head in some very familiar spots around the Big Apple. It’s up to you and the team to find out the new cause of the paranormal activity and maybe get Dr. Venkman a date in the process.

The story is a mixture of new material with a lot of winking to the fans of the series. Treading over old ground isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but can quickly get old when cast tends to point out the connections between the game and the plot of the original movie. Nonetheless, this romp is amusing enough and the dialogue is snappy enough to keep you from hitting that skip button. As an added bonus, the original cast lends their voices as well as gives the script a little polish. For fans of the movie, this is a huge treat and probably the closest you’ll get to a Ghostbusters III for a while.

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Suck in the Guts, Guys

Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the WiiGhostbusters for the Wii plays just like you would expect a third-person shooter – move with the stick and aim with the Wii mote. While it’s not the most accurate of shooting arrangements, taking down spooks hardly requires a dead aim. The c button locks you on to a single ghost and all you have to do is wear him down. Your proton pack immediately switches to capture mode where you’ll flick your mote in response to the arrow indicators on the screen. Throw out the trap and call it a day. Additional weapons such as the goo gun, varies the action every now and again. But more than likely, you’ll find yourself in the same shoot-and-capture cycle for most of the game.

The strength behind the gameplay lies in treating the ghosts as puzzles rather than flying targets. The d-pad allows you to switch between three main weapons each with their own alternative fire as well as a scanner for those hard to find ghosts. Some spirits require you to freeze them in place while other larger monsters require you to take them apart piece by piece. The bosses of the game really exemplify what this title does well. You’ll often have to shift your strategy as well as your gear several times through one of these epic battles if you want to take down one of these impressive phantoms.

Tell him about the Twinkie

Besides smoking out all the apparitions in the Big Apple, you’ll also be hunting for pages of Tobin’s Spirit Guide along with scanning the appropriate items to fit. A page on possessed objects, for instance, requires you to scan one of those flying dishes before it finds a victim. If you ever find yourself with a ghost too ghoulish to take down, the pages offer tips on how to take down everything from demon books to even the final boss. The game even rewards players for finding all the pages with extra goodies which are not really worth the hassle of this virtual paper chase. While a few pages are just floating around, you’ll often need to cause some damage, break a chair, or blow up a box, just to find these wayward scripts.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the WiiAnd that leads to dealing with insurance. Luckily for you and your poor aiming skills, the city of New York has decided to pony up the bill for whatever you destroy. Blast a chair and that two hundred bucks of burning wood becomes the mayor’s problem. At the end of every mission, your damage gets totaled and well… nothing happens after that. You could have burned down the whole hotel or only tip over a lamp; the results are always the same. You get your bill and move on.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the Wii tries to be like his Xbox 360/PS3 counterparts, but falls short in a number of ways. Like the insurance, certain aspects are included in the game, but are never fully implemented. The rooms are rather large but you’ll often see only a handful of ghosts in every section. Furniture breaks the same way every time or even fails to fall apart. Some gameplay concepts are introduced but are often never used more than the level where you first see them. One of the cool things in the game is the ability to pick up slimed objects and throw them around. Once you get the slime blower, it seems only natural to start picking up items and chucking them at ghosts. Not so. You’ll only use them a handful of times before moving on the next area. Instead of trying to be its own game, the Wii version goes for the watered down experience of its competitors.

Too Cold to Hold

Speaking of differences, the Wii version takes a cartoony approach to the visuals and for the most part, it works. All the characters look decent enough except for maybe Ray who looks fifteen and part bullfrog. Everything from flying apparitions to large worm-like bosses look good, but they won’t win any awards.  Special effects and music both hit the good enough mark as well. The only thing I found slightly jarring was the strafing animation of my character twisting nearly ninety-degrees at the hip.

And for all these levels of sparse rooms and few enemies, what do you get? Loading screens, lots of them. The game is long enough to keep you busy for a good weekend, but a good part of that time will be spent watching loading screen after loading screen. Practically, every floor in the hotel comes with its own loading screen. No interactivity. No special art to watch. It’s just you and a spinning sign.

If you happen to have another friend who wants to get in on the action, Ghostbusters allows for two-player co-op busting. You can jump to any previous mission or start a new one with a friend in tow. While bringing a friend along in games like Gears adds to the overall experience, it’s not as necessary with this title. The level of difficulty, even on the hardest level, never gets to a point where you need another human to watch your back. If things get a little too slimy, the friendly AI is usually there to lend you a hand to revive you. Play with Egon or the kid next door, you’re going to have about the same amount of fun.

See you on the other side, Ray


Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the WiiGhostbusters: The Video Game definitely brings to the table a lot of things fans of the movie have been asking for – funny dialogue, the original cast, and a whole lot of busting. We also get a lot of short comings that don’t make me feel good – loading screens, half-baked mechanics, and only a few ghosts to really wrap your proton beams around. Fans stuck with a Wii might be disappointed with the gameplay, but you can slog it through just to get to the end of the story. Everyone else who has another system hanging around the house will want to try the other versions of Ghostbusters first.