Ghostbusters: The Video GameESRB:
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: 3rd Person: Action
Developer: Red Fly Studios
I had the chance to review the Wii version of Atari’s Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Many know that the Wii is the weakest of all the next generation consoles in the visual department, but it makes up some ground with its innovative control. With this in mind I was actually looking forward to seeing what would be offered using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. Well I had a chance to sit down and take the game through its paces, and overall I was pleasantly surprised, but it is still not without some issues.
Ghostbusters: The Video game is not bad looking for the Wii, but it is noticeably different from other consoles. Red Fly Studios made a smart move when deciding to make the famed four into caricatures of themselves and the Wii has no trouble showing them off in cartoony glory. I for one would have been personally moved if they had gotten the same art design from the animated cartoon. I guess they were going to try to, and for a while I was a little disappointed they didn’t, but in the end I did like the style that they went with. The only character that doesn’t quite look right is Ray, but that is forgivable as the he does have a cute teddy bear-like quality to him. I could easily see a line of toys being made for these characters as they look great and flesh out the game nicely.
The environments also look good. I was expecting to see graphical glitches and such given the limitations of the Wii, but everything looked very polished. The levels seem to fit perfectly in this redesigned world of the Ghostbusters, so you don’t feel like you are playing a game as much as experiencing a story. The only games on the Wii that I have seen that look this good are ones that Nintendo churns out like Mario Galaxy or Mario Sunshine, and those have a great storybook quality to them also. The simplicity of the design also allows the game to function smoothly, so you don’t experience lag or system slowdown from too many objects being on screen at once. No hiccups results in greater player immersion.
There is something to be said about the words “original cast“. Having almost everyone from the movies back again really brings forth the memories and improves the feel of the story nicely. Some parts were a little dry and monotone, such as Egon explaining about your equipment, but it is hard to spice up the explanations of how to play the game. It’s not a really juicy bit, but once you get past that you are hearing old memories call you back. It feels like the movies never ended and this is the true sequel. The script was very well written, as expected from Akroyd and Ramis. The witty banter helps to keep things moving along nicely even during the dry parts of the game. Normally walking through a maze of invisible traps would be boring and tedious but the chatter keeps you focused on enjoying yourself. Of course you are a bystander for these conversations though, unable to really take part, but you don’t feel as if you are missing out on anything. Besides, what more could you really add to the discussion if you could?
The music seems to have been pulled right from the soundtracks also. It brings back memories of watching the actual movies. As I write this, a friend of mine that introduced me to Ghostbusters is humming away the tune after we played the game and he isn’t even thinking about it. Something about this music made these movies. It wasn’t high-paced movie music that normally backs comedic action movies. Ghostbusters’ story is about four guys that sort of stumble into the real world they had always studied. Aside of their degrees on the wall, these are four average men doing something that no one really has no idea how to do. The music has a joe-schmo quality to it that lends a bumbling quality to the movie. It’s endearing to see four guys stumble their way into these situations, and the music captures the mood perfectly. I can easily see the slapstick inside the action because of how the music highlights the mood.
Although I think the Wii’s controls can be cool, I am personally not a fan of aiming at the screen and moving my remote to look left and right. This is because you can get so lost trying to look in the correct direction that you want too and you can’t even think about whatever is closing in on you. To my surprise though, the controls were actually fairly responsive when turning, so I didn’t have to wrestle with them too much. The downside is that they do feel unresponsive at times when you are blasting ghosts. When you blast a ghost in the game, you have a set of arrows that will point in a specific direction, and when you move the Wii Remote in that direction the ghost gets bashed into walls. You continue this process until he is weak enough to trap. I like the interaction in this regard, but the actual response from the Wii Remote can be slow. Often times your on screen foe will be thrown in a different direction entirely, usually opposite of what you wanted. It won’t cause you to lose the game, but it breaks the illusion of the story. The best way to visually describe it is to try and think about the movies and if the proton wands had never moved in the direction they wanted when trying to catch Slimer.
At the end of each level you get paid, which is what it is all about. As you go through the levels you blast and catch as many ghosts as you can, and you can see a ticker on the screen wind up as you rake in the bucks. I liked this idea as it is a very unique way of showing your score. My only concern here is that ANYTHING you shoot on the levels gives you more cash. Slimer, Stay-Puft, Grey Lady (if you can catch her) potted plants (those things can be vicious) and even a chair even. Again, I would compare this to the movies and think about Bill Murray throwing a plant through a window and holding out his hand for “money for services rendered”. It is not something that is going to make the game unplayable, but when you take a game that will have fanboys drooling, you have to work on the finish. Thankfully there are a lot of ghosts to blast, so you don’t notice it too much. Maybe I am a too little picky.
When you take too much damage you drop to the ground and wait for a teammate to revive you, which can be a bit frustrating at times. Usually there is very little of this going on, but at times you will sit uselessly as the AI tries to fight off the ghosts and you sit and twiddle thumbs. Like Kirby Y said in his review of the Xbox 360 version, it is like you are not in control of the game at times. Speaking of AI, you computer teammates do help you out more than I would expected, and it is not only a blessing that they do, but again, it furthers the whole Ghostbusters experience.
The developer did add a multiplayer component to the Wii version of Ghostbusters, but I get the sneaking suspicion that this was added on at the end of the development cycle, almost as an afterthought. At first I was excited to try this out with a friend, and when I finally got a chance to play I found that I had a difficult time seeing what I was doing on screen . It almost seems like they took two screens, mashed them together, and left the pixilation alone thinking it we wouldn’t expect much from the Wii which, in the end, makes it a little difficult to play on smaller screens. Having the multiplayer on the Wii seems like a good tradeoff, less in graphics, but more in player interaction. While I would agree to this normally, multiplayer should always be an inclusion with the game from conception and it does not feel like it here. For example, when you are walking around the station house at the beginning of the game you have to wait until you leave in the Ecto-1 before you can have a second player join you, which shows that the effort to work in the multiplayer just wasn’t there from the start. The game handles the multiplayer experience poorly to be honest, and it does feel like it was slapped on at the end. Why a game that seems to be a perfect fit for playing with a friend would be so much better as a single player experience is beyond me. If you want to play the game with a buddy I would recommend one of the versions on the other consoles. Going into this game hoping to play with a friend won’t be nearly as satisfying an experience as you might hope.
Continue to Page 2