Hey fellow Ghostheads I wrote a blog on the gaming site I work for about what I want from a new game in the Ghostbusters franchise. I would appreciate it if you would check it out and comment but I don't want to spam the forum here so if you don't feel like clicking through I will repost the whole thing here but if you'd like to help me out we could use hits
Anyway here is a link http://www.gamergaia.com/my-blog/entry/what-i-want-from-a-ghostbusters-game.html
And here is the post apologies if you enjoyed Sanctum of Slime but I hated it. Have a great day guys!
In case you didn’t know I am a HUGE fan of all things Ghostbusters. I have been since I was a little kid and continue to be even now that I am, legally-speaking, an adult. The Ghostbusters franchise is one that has seen a lot of ups and downs over the 27 years of its existence but video game adaptations have been particularly troublesome. So, what Ghostbusters games have hit the mark and why exactly were they good games? What can Atari do with the license now that they have the rights to make more games in the series? Here are the thoughts of a Ghostbusters super-geek.
I guess I should give a tiny bit of background for those of you who might not know or may need a refresher but Ghostbusters is a 1984 comedy moving starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson as paranormal investigators and eliminators in New York City. The film was one of the highest grossing of the year (beating out Beverly Hills Cop when you factor in the 1985 re-release) and capturing the attention of audiences around the world. It makes sense that many different adaptations came soon thereafter including a cartoon series, comic books and, of course, video games.
The early Ghostbusters video games were simple in design but had several key gameplay flaws that held them back from being fantastic experiences. The Ghostbusters game on the NES was basically the same game that was released on the Atari 2600 and with the hardware of the NES a lot more should have come out of the game. The Sega Master system Ghostbusters game was a graphical improvement over the NES version but still wasn’t a definitive Ghostbusters experience.
The first Ghostbusters game that, I feel, hit the mark was the Sega Genesis Ghostbusters game that was released in 1990. The Sega Genesis game hit the console a year after the second movie in the Ghostbusters film series but it had nothing to do with the plot of the movies. Sure, the characters and backstory were there but the story of the game was unique. Players got the chance of picking one of 3 Ghostbusters each with different traits (speed and stamina were traded off with each character, for example Ray had more stamina but lower speed). The Ghostbusters had heads that were too large for their bodies but they closely resembled the actors from the movies.
The Genesis game revolved around a series of four hauntings that the Ghostbusters had to solve; at the end of each stage a piece of an ancient stone tablet would be dropped by the boss ghost and putting the pieces together opened up a fifth area, a castle and beating that brought the Ghostbusters to a giant hole in the city that acted as the sixth and final stage of the game.
The gameplay was fun, the mythos was there, the characters were present (minus Winston who was my favorite Ghostbuster) and the game was overall a solid entry into the Ghostbusters franchise. Unfortunately for fans of the series Ghostbusters began to die off in the early 1990’s and didn’t come back for much other than a failed attempt at a reboot series (Extreme Ghostbusters is the bane of my existence) and a failed comic books series in 2004.
Finally Ghostbusters fans got some good news when it was announced that a next-gen Ghostbusters game was in development that would feature the likeness and voice acting of the original actors from the movies. Ghostbusters: The Video Game came out in 2009 and was well-received by both the fan base and the critics for being a solid game. The story was decent, the main characters were there, the equipment and ambiance of the movies were lovingly recreated and the gameplay mechanic for catching ghosts was fluid and it just seemed right. Terminal Reality developed the game and it was clear how much time and effort was put into making the game as authentic as possible for true Ghostbusters fans.
Vivendi was originally set to publish the game but when they merged with Activision the game was dropped and, after some time in development limbo, Atari came along to publish the game. After Ghostbusters: The Video game was released fans eagerly awaited DLC for the game but it never came.
Instead of DLC, fans got a new game called Sanctum of Slime that completely changed the gameplay of the series from third-person shooter to top-down multiplayer shooter. The game felt more cartoony, had no voice acting, repetitive gameplay, regurgitated environments from the 2009 game and was one of the biggest disappointments I have ever had to face as a gamer and as a Ghostbusters fan.
So it is clear that there are some games that get it right and some that don’t but what exactly are the qualities that make for a good Ghostbusters game? What should developers look to do in the future if they ever want to tread down the path of the Boys in Grey again? Here is what I think a good Ghostbusters game will need to be successful in the future.
“We’re the best, we’re the beautiful…we’re the ONLY Ghostbusters!”
Ghostbusters was a great movie for several reasons but one main reason was the comedic talents of the main characters, this is something that absolutely must be re-created if a Ghostbusters game is to work. The dynamic between the original actors is hard to re-create if you can’t get them on board but at least the characters can be there. The Ghostbusters have unique personality traits and the characters themselves can play off of one another as long as the writers have a good grasp over the characters. Bringing new characters into the Ghostbusters franchise has seldom worked and all and I would say, in my opinion, no new character has ever been introduced that was even a quarter as interesting or as fun to watch as the original characters from the first movie.
I had hoped to see a proper sequel to the 2009 Terminal Reality entry into the series and that kind of gamer could still work. The Ghostbusters franchise has had a hard time getting any projects off the ground because of Bill Murray’s reluctance (I don’t blame him but he is the holdup) but even he lent his voice to the game so it seems like he would be on board. Even if you couldn’t get them to return to their roles at least have the characters in the game and have new voice actors. But just don’t bring in a new team, it never works.
Gameplay, Gameplay, Gameplay!
Sometimes people get so wrapped up in the other elements of a game like the story and the graphics that they forget the most fundamental truth of video games: they need to be fun to play! Ghostbusters: The Video Game and the Sega Genesis game are both great examples of fun games to play that also happen to be Ghostbusters titles.
The mechanic of catching ghosts was so well defined in Ghostbusters: The Video Game that it was appalling to me that is wasn’t used in Sanctum of Slime. The gameplay was varied pretty well in the game (though I see definite areas for improvement) and a new Ghostbusters game could easily work on improving an already good gameplay system.
Remember Your Roots
Ghostbusters is a comedy movie and that needs to be remembered and reflected in any games that come out based off of the franchise. Ghostbusters might have had some horror-movie elements to it (those Terror Dogs scared the heck out of me as a kid) but it was a movie with two SNL alums and the director of Stripes at the helm.
Comedy needs to be a crucial part of the gaming experience and the games that got it right definitely remembered the comedic roots of the game while also remembering that there were a few scare moments in the original movie. The balance must be there and it must be more comedy than horror or it won’t work.
“Aww its Ok You Can Bring Him Along”
Ghostbusters is an experience that is best shared with someone else, whether you are watching the movie or playing a game it is always more fun to experience it with someone else and a successful Ghostbusters game needs to allow you to do that. Multiplayer is fantastic online but split-screen campaign and multiplayer campaign online is an absolute must.
Neither of the two Ghostbusters games that I mentioned actually have all the functionality I listed so this is something that needs to be worked on. But, don’t try to make the game multiplayer-friendly at the expense of what made the game so great in the first place *cough* Sanctum of Slime *cough*
Keep the Story Fresh
Look as much as I love the movies I don’t want to replay them, having elements, references and some plotline overlap is fine to build continuity but I really don’t want to play a rehash of the movies. Give us new villains, give us new ghosts, bring in some new ideas and make the story exciting.
Ghostbusters fans have been re-watching the same stuff for over 20 years, we love it but we are also starving for something new. To be honest I think after Ghostbusters: The Video Game I can do without a return trip to the world of Gozer (and throw Ivo Shandor in there too). Don’t get me wrong, I thought the story was well-done in the game, but that was good; there is no need to go back to that well again.
Ghostbusters is my most beloved franchise for a ton of different reasons and being a gamer I can’t help but think of a new entry into the video game series every time I see my copy of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. If Atari ever wants to put out a new installment in the franchise these are the key points that I would emphasize if I had anything to do with the development.
Ok so I ranted about Ghostbusters long enough, are there any other Ghostbusters fans out there who want to voice their opinion about this? Let me know in the comments. And if you liked Sanctum of Slime sorry but I couldn’t stand it.