Who you gonna call?

#2: Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Would any list of spooky games be complete without the Ghostbusters? Well, before June 2009, the answer could easily have been yes. That’s when Atari, having picked up the rights to publish the game from Activision, would release what Ghostbusters creator Dan Aykroyd said is “essentially the third movie” to effectively every platform under the sun at the time. But while many fans were gushing — rightfully so — over the high definition versions available on Windows, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360, my eyes were firmly locked on the version for the Wii.

To get around the use of less-powerful hardware, the developers at Red Fly Studios (Terminal Velocity handled the HD versions, while Zen Studios took the Nintendo DS) opted for a more cartoon-styled appearance all-around. This didn’t bother me in the slightest; in fact, I was ecstatic, as I grew up on The Real Ghostbusters, and those were essentially my Ghostbusters. Sure, I’d seen both movies in theaters, but those didn’t quite resonate with me the way the cartoon did (I chalk it up in small part to the movies being slightly over my head at the time). Unfortunately, what disappointed me was that they chose not to use the versions from The Real Ghostbusters, going for more movie-based caricatures of the guys.

That bugged me for a while, but in retrospect — especially with the actual actors reprising their roles — it was the probably the right choice. It’s also the approach which IDW has taken with their own Ghostbusters comic books, which seems to have recently canonized The Real Ghostbusters as being something of an alternate reality by having the two versions cross over in Ghostbusters: Get Real (you can find a preview of the first issue here).

The other thing that drew me to the Wii version? How could I resist a Ghostbusters game where I could use the Wii Remote as a particle thrower/proton wand and chuck ghost traps out by making the classic gesture with the Nunchuk? Simple: I couldn’t, nor am I the only one to see the appeal. While the Wii Remote is notorious for silly add-ons like tennis rackets and frying pans, I defy anyone to tell me that this isn’t living the dream right here.

Oh, and it was the only version to be 2-player locally. That was a good thing, too, allowing Nadia and I to play together.

As for its place as a third movie, I’ve seen some people who are down on the story — in particular, the way it kind of retreads a lot of old territory from the first movie. Personally, I was rather fine with it. In a way, the first movie had a fair number of loose ends, and the video game managed to use new material to tie up many of the disparate elements of the two movies together as part of a greater narrative that culminated here.

While I certainly am not the kind of person who needs all of these ghost attacks to be tied together in some way, I thought it was a pretty clever way to tie things together as a trilogy. Plus, with the interactive element now included, revisiting familiar scenarios seems like it should be considered a good thing — you just know that if there wasn’t a shot at recreating iconic movie moments, there would still be people upset about it. This way, it’s the best of both worlds.

If there was one gripe I had, it was that Peter Venkman’s voice, as provided by Bill Murray, was a bit too low. Otherwise, I’d love to see them take the vocal tracks recorded and make a computer-generated third movie out of it. Don’t get me wrong, the game as it is makes a great third installment, but it’s a touch time-consuming — if I wanted to marathon the three installments, I don’t know that the time investment the video game requires is how I would want to cap things off, certainly not with any regularity and probably not if I was having a marathon with friends.

The HD version’s graphics are already good enough to make a decent direct-to-video picture from, and with some added budget and action footage (to replace gameplay) thrown into the mix, might even match movie quality (it’s already on the cusp to me, but I admittedly don’t have the best eye for these things). Heck, on YouTube, some people have already done just that. Plus, with the new reboot coming out and already causing a stir, it might be a nice way to capitalize on the buzz while offering the old fans a little bit of closure on their version of the original movie Ghostbusters universe.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.