Backlogvania Review: Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered
Welcome to BacklogvaniaJoin me each month as I tackle one game from my backlog, try to complete it in a month, and then tell you if it’s worth playing now, leaving in your backlog, or skipping completely. Not that my opinion means anything, but you’re here. You have now entered the daunting, and traitorous world of Backlogvania! This month’s game is… Game: Ghostbusters: The Video Game System: Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo Switch (Remastered), Xbox One (Remastered), PlayStation 4 (Remastered) Released: 2009, 2019 (Remastered) Publisher: Atari, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Mad Dog Games (Remastered) Studio: Terminal Reality (Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360), Red Fly Studio (PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Wii) Notable Creatives: Drew Haworth (Director), Dan Aykroyd (writer), Harold Ramis (writer) Metacritic Score: 79, 66 (Remastered) Duration in my backlog: Approximately 11 years and 8 days (1 year and 8 days if you only count the Remastered) Additional writing and editing: Joseph McBride
History LessonIn honor of the first Backlogvania during the month of October, I figured I’d cover a spooky game from my backlog. Since my wife only has so much time in the day to sit with me to prevent my anxiety from spiking while I’m playing Resident Evil VII, I figured I’d go with something a little more lighthearted like Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Now, to do the history of this one properly, one must go back to the year 1990. Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 had both released in 1984 and 1989, respectively, earning approximately a combined $511 million on a total budget of roughly $70 million. Due to rumored disinterest from Bill Murray and a lack of critical success of the second film, future Ghostbusters movies were shelved for years with only middling content creeping out in the form of a few different animated series. While rough ideas for another sequel had been thought up by Aykroyd and Ramis, several factors caused a third film to be shelved for almost two decades. Then, in 2016, we were all blighted with a disastrous Paul Feig reboot that wasted a tremendous cast on a milquetoast and largely improvised script that bombed terribly. Ghostbusters (2016) cost 2.5 times the budget of both original films combined and ended up barely scraping in more ticket sales than what the second film made. That’s not adjusting for inflation, either. I wonder what went wrong… Why are we talking about the history of the Ghostbusters movies? This is a video game blog, afterall… Well, that’s because somewhere in the middle between the supremely underrated second film and the awful third film/reboot, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was born. The idea originally sprang up in 2006 and, like the concepts for the theoretical third film, the project bounced around and eventually landed in the laps of developer Terminal Reality. Though they weren’t able to get their third film off the ground, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were brought in to help write Ghostbusters The Video Game. The duo incorporated some of their unused ideas from their script for Ghostbusters 3 as well as untapped lore and ideas that were cut from the first film. The contributions from both as writers as well as them being joined by most of the original cast to provide their voices and likenesses helped made Ghostbusters: The Video Game the de-facto third film that we never got. In fact, of the principal cast of the original film, only Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis did not appear and not for a lack of trying. Ghostbusters: The Video Game, starred Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Alyssa Milano, Annie Potts, Brian Doyle-Murray, William Atherton, and was released in 2009 to tie in with the first film’s 25th anniversary. The game received mostly positive reviews and even got a remaster 10 years later on current gen consoles which is the version I (mostly) chose to play.
Journey to the BacklogGhostbusters and Ghosbusters II are two of my favorite movies of all time and I watch them multiple times a year. I consider the first film to be a perfect comedy and I feel the second is a better sequel than it often gets credit for. Question Time: if I love video games enough to write about them and I love Ghostbusters enough to be able to recite a vast majority of it from memory, why did I wait so long to play a game that seems like it was made in a factory called “We Make Geoff’s Favorite Things?” Up until 2009, video games and movie tie-ins usually didn’t mix. In fact, most licensed properties that made their way into video games were usually garbage or, at best, mediocre promotional tie-in products. Often these games were simply made to appeal to casual markets who don’t know a good game from a
Game Review**Warning: This section will contain spoilers for Ghostbusters: The Video Game. You’ve been warned…** Ghostbusters: The Video Game starts with a disturbance originating from The Gozer Exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This event sets off a chain reaction releasing ghosts in places all over New York including many of the films previous haunts (got em) like the Sedgewick hotel, library, and even the famous fire station headquarters. While investigating the hotel and battling a rebirthed Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the crew learns that the big sailor was in pursuit of Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn (Alyssa Milano) who, as it turns out, is a long lost descendent of Ivo Shandor, the unseen villain from the first movie who worshiped Gozer and was responsible for much of the originally released ghosties. Ghostbusters’s story is simultaneously mediocre and also the best part of this game. I’ll be perfectly honest with you – I don’t think I cared much about the plot at all, but hearing Ramis, Aykroyd, Hudson and Murray’s dialogue sang beautifully to the tune of Aykroyd and Ramis’s script was all I really needed to scratch that Ghostbusters itch. These guys could put out a record where they read aloud a recipe for pea-soup and as long as they did it in character and added a few quipps here or there, I’d pre-order that thing today. Prior to 2020 being 2020, we were actually slated to get a true third Ghostbusters film with the remaining cast this summer, but that film’s been delayed until sometime next year which means this game is still the closest thing we have to Ghostbusters 3 and… you know what… I’m ok with that. I’m still holding out hope that Ghostbusters: Afterlife will be good, but if it isn’t – Ghostbusters: The Video Game is worthy enough to be considered a true canon third film in my book until Afterlife gets a release. But I know what you’re thinking – how does it play? Well, earlier I referenced similarities to other third-person action games like Gears of War and it plays kinda like that. It plays like a very-ok third-person action-shooter (or an over-the-booty-shooty, as Girlfriend Reviews would put it). The start of the game is what you want from a Ghostbusters game: use the proton beam to rope the ghosts, throw the trap, and then slowly guide the beam towards your trap and snap it shut. Two in the box, ready to go! We be fast and they be slow! But, as you may imagine, that loop can get repetitive so the game throws stuff to switch it up. Ghostbusters expands upon characters and ideas from the lore of the films but it also adds some new ideas, mainly in the form of the Busters’ arsenal. As enemy ghosts get tougher, your silent protagonist new recruit is helping to test out new gear each with varying capabilities, if only slightly. On top of the standard proton stream, there’s the slime gun from Ghosbusters II (although now the slime is green) and two other stream styles that act like a shotgun-type blast and a semi-automatic beam shooter. Each weapon has a unique cool-down that can be side-stepped by venting the pack before overheating. When not fending off ghosts, you can use the PKE meter to move into first person and scan enemies, cursed artifacts and environmental clues for more details to add to the Tobin Spirit Guide. Each enemy defeated, or artifact scanned gives you revenue that you can use to slightly upgrade your gear to keep the bustin’ feeling good. When in the heat of battle, Ghostbusters have no HUD for health and, similar to Gears of War, the screen turns slightly more red as you get closer to being downed. You can be downed as long as your teammates are around to pick you up and vice versa but if everyone is downed then it’s back to the checkpoint. And let me tell you, you’ll get downed a lot. Some enemy attacks seem to down you instantaneously and your A.I. partners may have PhDs in parapsychology and psychology but that doesn’t make them experts on avoiding attacks. When your partners aren’t already downed, the AI will often struggle to get to you in time to pick you up. Speaking of AI, the enemies are everything from non-existent to incredibly OP; I coasted through most of the game without issue but several points were frustratingly difficult and had to be restarted 8-12 times. They came, they saw, they kicked my ass, to say the least. Beyond gameplay, the visuals and audio are as true to Ghostbusters as any live action incarnation. The character models, especially during the cut-scenes, are perfect stand-ins for the real performers. While the in-engine models are not nearly as polished, for a last gen game, the models still look pretty good. One of my favorite parts of the visuals are the little nods to the lore of the films; the firehouse, hotel, and little things like the devil dog statues all look like they were ripped right out of the film. As a fan I couldn’t ask for much more. The voice cast is all outstanding – each actor brings in a great performance with only a few lines here or there seeming phoned in (mostly from Hudson and Murray). The music, while repetitive, is almost all ripped directly from the score of the first movie which alternates between haunting and playful. The sound effects of the equipment, specifically the proton packs are all beautifully and carefully brought to life here and the added sounds of the new equipment and ghosts all feel like the fit the new universe. In terms of presentation, you can tell that there was a lot of love and care for Ghostbusters put into this project and it’s clearly the best part of the overall experience.
General Commentary, Trivia, and Credits
- According to IMDB, this was Harold Ramis’s last performance as Egon Spengler, may he rest in peace…
- Sigourney Weaver originally did not want to to participate, but once she discovered that Bill Murray had signed on and was heavily invested, she decided to join in but it was too late in the process and her character had been written out
- Brian Doyle-Murray, who portrays the mayor in this game, is Bill Murray’s brother and had a small role in Ghostbusters II
- Joel Murray, Bill’s other brother, also has a role
- Max Von Sydow, who voiced Vigo in Ghostbusters II, reprises his role here as well in just a small part that acts more as an Easter egg bug it’s awesome to see that level of commitment to the original films
- Troy Baker and Laura Bailey, both who were performers in The Last of Us Part II, voice characters in this game – specifically Troy Baker portrays Slimer
VerdictAs a die-hard fan of the films, it’s a challenge for me to stay completely objective. As a replacement for the Ghostbusters 3 we never got, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is about as good as a fan can ask for. As a pure gameplay experience, however, it’s only ok. The difficulty spikes and repetitive gameplay loop don’t exactly create a poor gameplay experience, but there’s just nothing here that you can’t get from other, better games in a similar genre. If you’re a die-hard Ghostbusters fan – this game is a must play, if even only as a loving replacement for the Ghostbusters 3 we never got. if you’re not a Ghostbusters fanboy, this one you can probably leave on the shelf until you run out of Slinkys to straighten.
Is The Messenger Worth Playing If I Enjoyed Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered?
If you enjoyed Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered, you’ll likely find The Messenger worth playing. This backlogvania game review explores a unique blend of retro-style platforming and Metroidvania elements. With its challenging levels, engaging storyline, and nostalgic pixel art, The Messenger brings a fresh experience to fans of both genres. Prepare for a thrilling adventure filled with humor, epic boss battles, and a time-traveling twist.