When it launched in 2009, Ghostbusters: The Video Game proved that with care and attention you could make a good game based on a movie franchise. Ten years later, and we get too play it again, thanks to a remaster for PS4, Xbox One and Switch. We nabbed the more portable of the three (the Switch, of course) and got to bustin’ ghosts.
One of the key credits to the game is that Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis were directly involved, writing the script and using plot elements that were originally going to be used for a third Ghostbusters film. With the notable exceptions of Sigourny Weaver and Rick Moranis, the entire cast return to voice their characters, as do many key scenes and plot elements from the first two movies. Stay Puft, Gozer, Slimer, the Librarian, and the pink ooze all make an appearance.
Rather than play as one of the four main Ghostbusters, you’re placed in the shoes of an unnamed rookie, joining the famous foursome on a new quest as all hell quite literally breaks loose. As Ms. Weaver was unavailable, we’re introduced instead to Ilyssa Selwyn, played by Charmed actress Alyssa Milano, an expert in all things Gozer. The plot quickly whisks us off to the Sedgewick Hotel, the New York Public Library, and the middle of the Hudson river. As ever, Walter Peck does his best to stop the team, but is he behind the latest surge of ghostly shenanigans?
The game is essentially a third person shooter with the Rookie accompanying the team as they hunt ghosts across the city. Capturing the spectres is one of the highlights of the game and perfectly captures how it would feel to be a Ghostbuster. There are three stages to capturing a spook. First they need to be weakened by hitting them with a proton stream, which can take a while as the ghosts fly around the play area, but after enough hits you swap to a Capture stream and get to wrangle the ghost, countering their movements by pulling them in the opposite direction until you eventually catch them in your trap.
Smaller spectres can be zapped rather than captured and as you progress you unlock new weapons including a freeze ray and the famous slime blasters from Ghostbusters II. Even though there are no puzzles, you do get to do a bit of detective work by equipping your PK Meter and scanning for hidden phantoms.
Unfortunately the game has not aged well in a number of ways. Dan Ackroyd plays the user manual for a good part of the game, explaining how weapons work and what to do, and Bill Murray’s Venkman, who was a slimeball back in 1984, now seems almost predatory. The game is also ruthlessly linear with little to no scope for exploring – your pathway is locked until one of the other Ghostbusters decides you need to move on, and despite the new weapons the combat remains the same throughout.
While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of the game promise 60fps, and 4K for the Pro and X versions, the Switch version is much closer to being a simple port of the Xbox 360 game, sticking to a simple 30fps when docked. It’s perfectly fine to play in handheld mode, but targeting the ghosts seems a little harder when playing on the small screen.
The original release of the game featured a pretty decent multiplayer spin-off, but that has been cut from the game. Saber Interactive have said that they were going to create a new multiplayer mode and release it later as DLC, but have yet to release any details.
Still, despite the repetitive gameplay and linear levels, this is easily the best Ghostbusters game ever created and anyone who is a fan will love immersing themselves in the world. There are so many neat touches: you can have a quick chat with Vigo the Carpathian, slide down a firepole in the Ghostbusters HQ, and even listen to Janine absolutely slaying customers on the phone.