I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! Being the fifth wheel…now that’s another story.

Ghostbusters has been all up in the news lately. This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the original movie. (YAY!) Many sites have reported about a possible reboot of the franchise starring women in the main roles. (YAY! I hope.) It’s the month of ghosts and goblins, and “The Ghosbusters” remains a very popular Halloween trend. Also, Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is currently running a Ghostbusters-themed update in celebration of the holiday. So yeah…Ghostbusters. Seems appropriate then that I should get back to Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009), which I valiantly attempted to do recently…again.

Ghosbusters: The Video Game cover art © Atari, Columbia Pictures, Sony, et al.
Ghosbusters: The Video Game cover art © Atari, Columbia Pictures, Sony, et al.

As I sit here staring at my keyboard, I realize this post could go in many different directions. Should I talk about how cool I felt in grade school for being among the first of my peers to proudly state that I had seen the most awesomest movie since Return of the Jedi? (Eh, that’s the whole story.) Should I go into how prevalent quotes from Ghostbusters are in my household? (Back off man, I’m a scientist. Also, no.) Should I delve into the social ramifications of Ghostbuters itself and how it forever altered my views on the supernatural. (Christ almighty, NO!) Okay then, let’s just talk about the game, because all my tendrils of thought concerning it boil down to one single point: I want to like Ghostbusters: TGV so much more than I do.

Awkward.
Awkward? You have no idea.

As we know all too well, there’s an inherent danger in translating one form of media to another, whether it’s from book to stage, stage to screen, screen to video game, or whatever. Something’s bound to get lost in translation somewhere along the way.  But the thing about Ghostbusters: TVG is that…the translation from movie to games isn’t that bad. In fact, it’s pretty damn good when you consider it took something like three years and lots of shuffling between studios to get made. The fact most of Ghostbusters‘ (the movie) original cast came back to do the voice acting is downright amazing, from the primary team of scientists (Harold Ramis RIP) right down to the secretarial wonder Annie Potts and Max Von Sydow as Vigo the Carpathian.

And looky! It's everyone's favorite asshole, Walter Peck!
And looky! It’s everyone’s favorite asshole, Walter Peck!

In the game, which is set a couple years after Ghostbusters II, you play as a new Ghostbustorial recruit whom the guys call “Rookie,” who’s specifically hired to test out some new equipment…as well as catch some ghosts. You learn the ropes by traveling with the gang on a series of adventures in New York City. Your work leads you face another major threat to your beloved city by an all-powerful spirit-demon. I wish I could say more, but having only logged in a few total hours with the game, I don’t yet know what fate awaits the Ghostbusters this time round. I’d really like to find out though, if I can just get past…

…past…what, exactly? That’s the thing…like…uh…

Okay, you’re there…with the Ghostbusters. Not someone’s outward attempt to replicate the men in those roles…the actual men, two of whom wrote the game’s script. You have in your possession a proton pack that feels (I imagine) like the actual contraption in the way it behaves on screen and in the way you have to control it. Suitably, it acts a bit like a bucking bronco at times, but that makes sense. It’s a proton pack, not a pistol. And you’re busting ghosts! Seriously, I’ve been wanting to do that ever since first seeing The Ghostbusters.  Anyone who’s seen the movie would want to! And…and you’re there in the midst of New York City, one of the liveliest and craziest cities on the planet, which is replicated incredibly well in the game. Everything about the game seems so perfect, and it should be! And yet…

…and this is just me talking…

…I hate being the team’s fifth wheel.

Me either.
Me either.

In my posts on South Park: The Stick of Truth,  I mentioned how much fun it was just be in South Park hanging out with its citizens. In that game, I adored my teammates and wanted to keep playing just for the virtual companionship (and silly quips). It’s a far cry from how I feel about being around the Ghostbusters. The Rookie’s presence feels, at times, forced and unwanted. Or it could be that much of the team’s dialogue is stilted and bland. Upon making mistakes, I get the same “words of encouragement” or “sarcastic scolding” each time. When I do something right, the response is along the lines of “Great work! But you better be ready because things are just going to get worse/harder/less fun!” The prevailing negativity in the dialogue undermines the joy, and there are moments in the game when I’d rather just make a break for it and become the lone hero. At least then I wouldn’t have Jiminy Critical in my ear all the time.

And I know I haven’t gotten far enough into the story to make a sound judgment call on it, but so far it’s just not that interesting. Hopefully it’ll turn round further in.

If you've seen the movies, then you pretty much know the game.
If you’ve seen the movies, then you pretty much know the game.

I will say that ghost-wrangling is loads of fun, and I do enjoy the battle scenes. As the bearer of experimental equipment, the Rookie’s proton pack “evolves,” if you will, as you become a better buster. You receive various upgrades that turn your pack into something of a weapons arsenal with different firing modes beyond the classic proton stream. Switching modes takes a bit of time to master (for me, maybe not for you), but once you figure things out, it’s pretty easy to determine what you need in a given moment and how to switch over to it.

Neither the gameplay nor the controls are overly-complicated., which I always welcome with any game. I also understand that the game is pretty short, somewhere in the eight to twelve hour range, which also gets another plus in my book. (I like the idea of playing a 60+ hour game, but the practice is harder and harder for me to accept these days.) The game easily swaddles you in all its Ghosbuteriness; its whole atmosphere is just that convivial. But I’d be a whole lot comfortable if Venkman, Stantz, Spangler, and Zeddemore weren’t standing in the wings waiting for me to screw things up. Cause I’m just the Rookie after all, necessary until I’m expendable, which they repeatedly point out.

But maybe I’m just being too sensitive. If you’ve played/made it through the game, what did you think? Did you find the core cast to be less than stellar or perfect from start to finish?

Maybe I should play the game on mute and see how things go…

Okay, okay. Sometimes busting DOES make me feel good!
Okay, okay. Sometimes busting DOES make me feel good!

 

8 thoughts on “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts! Being the fifth wheel…now that’s another story.”

    1. I loved the Ghostbusters cartoon! It would have been fun if they had tapped into some of that humor for this game. Good luck if you ever get to sink your teeth into it. Fine fun if flawed.

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  1. For me this was a case of the gameplay in a game outshining its story. I remember the busting feeling really good, and it was fun going up against all these goofy ghosts, but you’re right about the story and characters, it was just…eh. I think it would have all worked much better had we just been given the option to play as one of the original crew rather than having to deal with the forced presence of “the Rookie”. Banter would have been so much more fun!

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    1. That would have been a much better idea! Everything about the Rookie just felt unwanted – like they needed him to be there but really didn’t want him around. Yes, if they had just let us play as one of the original four, all that forced banter would have been eliminated and the chemistry between the cast probably would have remained just like it had been in the movies. Alas.

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      1. Persona 3 FES… It’s an 80 hour game, if you’re checking out the walkthrough as you play ( which I didn’t, at first ) then a 40 hour game additional ( the FES part, which is an additional game ) , and there’s a locked BOSS game, whick you can play in a Game + ( player has to play from the start that includes all the stuff already acquired from the game, so it’s easier and faster) It’s a complicated game because there are fusions of acquired personas to get another persona…. then , there is this … DATING GAME ! ! !

        It’s a long story and my journey is worthy of a novelette. ( It’s 2007’s Game of the Year )

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        1. Oh wow, I’ve heard that about the Persona games – that they can be quite lengthy. I’d really like to play one one day because they sound so different from your normal action/adventure game. It does sound like you could write a book about your experience with the game! Glad to know that it’s still loads of fun even after hundreds of hours — that’s a game with staying power! 😀

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