It’s fair to say Ghostbusters is still one of the most accessible horror films of all time. It’s not only given us a treasured classic movie, but it also brought us Bill Murray’s most iconic performance, a hit song, an animated TV show, toy lines, and a video game that’s to this day, been as close to a long-awaited sequel with the original cast as we’re ever likely to get.
As you may have noticed with previous entries in the ‘Based on the Hit Film‘, getting a licensed game right is a very tricky thing for a variety of reasons, but as games have evolved, the technology has gotten closer to being able to capture the spirit of the films they’re based on, and married that to genuinely enjoyable games.
Ten years ago, developer Terminal Reality (who also made Blair Witch Vol. 1: Rustin Parr)released Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which coincided with the original film’s 25th anniversary year. This was no simple rush job to cash in on a milestone though.
In fact, this was essentially the sequel to Ghostbusters II. It was script-doctored by Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis, and saw them reprise their roles as Ray Stanz and Egon Spengler alongside Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, Max Von Sydow, William Atherton, and Bill Murray. Even now in the age of celebrity appearances in games being normal, having that cast (sadly minus Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis) reassemble for a video game is really something special.
Taking place after the events of Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters The Video Game puts you in the boiler suit of a new recruit to the spirit-snaring squad. Not long after being shown the ropes by the team, a supernatural pulse sees an epidemic of ghostly occurrences thrusts you into a fan-pleasing return to the first of many iconic locations, the Sedgewick Hotel, where you essentially get to recreate the hunt for Slimer from the first film, with a few new twists.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game makes the most of the ghostbusting equipment featured in the films. The proton pack is undoubtedly the star of the show. In most cases, you use its stream to wear down ghosts, then you’re able to wrangle them towards a trap, slamming them down to stun them further, then bam! Into the trap they go. As you face tougher enemies, new methods are needed in addition to this, and the proton pack, and other equipment can be upgraded to help you out in that regard. It also causes damage to the environment, which racks up onscreen in a cash amount. That bizarrely helps pay for your upgrades (though there’s a trophy to try and keep that damage to a minimum).
The PKE meter also plays a big part, using it not only to detect hidden ghosts, but uncover cursed item collectibles, and information. Whipping it out shifts to a first-person view, and you judge where the ghost/item is by following the pattern of LED dots and the position of the twin wands on its sides. There’s a few jump scares that come out of this, as you draw closer to a hidden specter, only to have it appear and come barreling towards you.
The upgrades quell the issue of repetition somewhat, easily the biggest weakness of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, but what really keeps it going along is the warm feeling of being back in this world as it should be. You have Bill Murray throwing out sarcastic one-liners, Harold Ramis’ deadpan dry humor, and even Max Von Sydow reprising his role as Vigo for a hilarious cameo. It really does feel like you’re back with childhood faves once more. Coming back to it again a decade later with this newly remastered version from Saber interactive (original developer Terminal Reality sadly folded in 2013), it’s amazing how well it holds up, and the talent on show is the main reason why.
The other reason is it hits a lot of comfortably nostalgic highs. Slimer and Vigo are the tip of the iceberg. There’s an explorable Ghostbusters HQ, the original soundtrack, pink slime, and fights against the Librarian Ghost and Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man among the highlights, and all are applied with care. It’s weaved into a fresh story that connects the history of the previous films with the game, as a vengeful spirit of a serial killer seeks to become a God.
We’re in the 35th anniversary year now of course, which makes it a perfect time as any to have this remastered version of this game reminding us of how good Ghostbusters can be. A bit of fresh goodwill for the franchise is always welcome, and with another film on the horizon, maybe we’ll get the Ghostbusters revival we’d hoped for.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered code provided by the publisher.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered is out now on PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.