Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Wii) - Review by Chris



25 years have passed since the original Ghostbusters movie hit the big screen and even now, in a generation lavished with the breakthroughs in modern animation technology, it remains a heavy favourite with many people young and old. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, the original cast members have come together one more time, in conjunction with developer Red Fly Studios and publisher Atari, to produce the equivalent of a third film to be enjoyed on the Nintendo Wii. But with troubled development and a 5 month timed exclusive in Europe on Sony's own home consoles, has the wait been worth it or are we still waiting for a truly great game to come along carrying the Ghostbusters name?


Set in 1991, 2 years after stopping Vigo from taking over the world, Manhattan is once again overrun with ghosts and it isn't long before the Ghostbusters are inundated with calls for help, both from residents and those in the government. To handle the extra work load, the team have brought in a new recruit to work as their guinea pig for the new weapons Egon has been creating in his spare time to battle the ethereal menaces terrorising the city. And this is who you'll take control of as you team up with Peter, Ray, Winston and Egon to find the source of the problem and stop it once and for all. As you continue through the story, you'll quickly come to learn that Gozer has returned once again and is using a gateway called the Mandala to allow ghosts to cross between their world and Manhattan and a female character known as Ilyssa is somehow involved in it unknowingly. With the mayor worried about the possibility of what could happen, he sets up a special team bringing in Walter Peck to manage and harass you to make sure you are doing your job lawfully. And so you set out once again to confront Gozer and close the Mandala in the hope of saving Manhattan.

The game gives you the choice between a male or female recruit, although there is no difference whatsoever between how the story evolves and progresses for the two as can be seen by the fact that even as the female cadet you're still referred to as a 'he' in conversations.The early levels of the game task you with missions that those familiar with the films will instantly enjoy, with Slimer, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the Gray Lady Librarian all making an appearance in the early hours to hook and reel you in. It's these missions that present themselves as the best of the bunch, presumably due to their familiarity. The later missions unfortunately cannot match these early ones and things begin to become overly complicated excessively lengthy when they don't need to be. You have your standard proton beam weapon which should have been enough to entice any fan but the developers have brought in several other weapons that lead to the over-complication of the gameplay. The Slime Blower from Ghostbusters 2 is one such attachment that appears and you'll need to use this to neutralise negatively charged black sludge but also to allow you to move certain objects that can only be moved with the proton beam once they've been slimed. While it's certainly a nice inclusion, and can make for some humorous moments with the other members, it doesn't feel as well implemented as it could have been. Likewise, the other attachment that crops up is a dark matter scattergun that works as both a stasis modulator and a shotgun. It comes in handy with the smaller insignificant enemies that don't need to be caught and the stasis beam is very helpful for easily taking down the ghosts that do need captured but again, it feels more like an afterthought than a full on necessity.

The single player will last roughly 8 hours, which isn't bad considering the films aren't hugely lengthy themselves. It does begin to drag a little towards the end though and once finished, there's precious little to come back to other than collecting all of the art pages and scans. There is the option to play the game throughout its entirety in two player co-op, which is fantastic but there's nothing new here so if you've completed the single player and decide to take a look, bear this in mind.


The controls for the game can be sorted into two batches. The first batch works well, with the Wii-mote being used to aim your proton pack and the Nunchuk being used to move about. It's simple and works well, although having the camera tied to your looking around and movement can be a slight issue and perhaps the developers could have taken some cues from the likes of Capcom's Resident Evil 4. The second batch, however, is where the main issues arise. Aiming and keeping track of the ghosts can sometimes be a bit of an issue, but there are no options to change any of the setting so it's something you'll have to get used to, but when it comes to catching the ghost, the controls can be problematic. After depleting their health bar, you'll have to play a sort of mini-game where you'll have to shake the Wii-mote in the desired direction in time with the on screen prompts. The problem is that in these instances, which are very common, the motion isn't always detected and sometimes the motion can cause you to lose your grip on the ghost, spinning your character around. It makes the actual ghost catching more frustrating than it should be. Another, yet smaller issue is that there is no feedback from the controller when using your proton pack, outside of the dark matter weapon and it overheating. It just detracts from the otherwise great experience.


Many ports that come to the Wii attempt to recreate the same visual style as the more powerful consoles resulting in somewhat of a mess. Luckily, Red Fly Studios have seen fit to play to the Wii's strengths so out go the realistic visuals and in their place comes a look that feels very much in tune with the original Ghostbusters cartoons. Ray, Winston, Egon and Peter, along with all of the other characters and ghosts, have been created in an exaggerated look that, for the most part, looks great. Character models look fantastic and are animated well. There's a decent variety of ghosts on offer for you to catch but you will notice that there is little difference between some kinds across the levels in terms of their design. The game does provide some good original ghost designs though, such as the Book Golems created out of tens of books that look fantastic, and the returning ghosts from the films are well done as well. Environments are all, for the most part, enclosed areas that range in size from the small to the large. They're littered with items which can be destroyed but to compensate for all of the destructible items, textures and the overall quality of the levels aren't as high in quality as they could have perhaps been. But it's not much of an issue when you consider how much fun you can have destroying literally anything you see and the developers have thrown in some little surprises in the fire house that fans will undoubtedly lap up. Unfortunately, the game is prone to take some significant nose dives in the frame rate department, and these become worse when a second player joins in for the co-op.


Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson have returned to reprise their roles as the four Ghostbusters. The script is well written and the lines are levelled with the same gusto seen in the films, providing the same level of humour seen there. Some of Egon's lines, however, do seem a little off even for his character but then being able to keep the script to the same standards as those used in the films after a 20 year gap was always going to be difficult. Many of the pieces of music you'll be hearing throughout the game have been taken straight from the movies and it really does help to give the feeling that the game is a representation of the third film. Just be prepared to have to put up with the theme tune playing over and over at the start of every mission as you leave the fire house.

Final comments

After a 20 year wait, Ghostbusters returns and manages to do the franchise proud but doesn't hit all the high notes as it should have done. Some of the gameplay choices seem unnecessary and feel like afterthoughts but for the most part, from start to finish, the game is incredibly enjoyable. With a fantastic art style, audio work that puts many games to shame and decent gameplay, Red Fly Studios can be happy with what they've achieved here. It easily manages to feel like part of the Ghostbusters franchise even with the issues it harbours. If you're a long standing fan of the films, you'll absolutely love this.

Pro: Fantastic art style that harkens back to the original cartoon, audio work is superb, gameplay is great for the most part
Con: Some gameplay choices feel like afterthoughts, motions aren't always detected correctly
Final score: 8.1


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Boxart of Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Wii)
Platform: Wii
Genre: Action
Developer: Red Fly
Publisher: Atari