GAME REVIEW – Ghostbusters (Nintendo Wii)

By Stewie Sutherland

WII_L_GhostbustersThe Nintendo Wii has generally parted its users into two categories: gamers, whose libraries have a copy of Super Mario Galaxy, Zelda: Twilight Princess, Smash Bros. Brawl and maybe a tried and true copy of Metroid Prime, and new players, drawn to the machine’s range of fun, innovative motion sensor titles. The living room shelf that has a well-played copy of Wii Sports, Sports Resort, Wii Fit, Carnival Games etc. But Ghostbusters is that very rare title that can belong within both categories quite snuggly.

Red Fly Studio’s version of the game (available on the PS2 as well as Wii) closely follows the Terminal Reality/PS3/Xbox360 versions. The game follows a new recruit, dubbed the “Rookie” by the cast because, according to Murray’s Venkman in the opening intros, “I don’t want to get too attached to this kid – you remember what happened to the last guy?” We never find out but the tone is very… posthumous. The recorded dialogue transfers nicely to the stylised version, with only minimal changes between the versions. While the Wii employs a cartoonier look and feel, it’s still a beautiful game and a lot of fun.

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Written by the original writers and creators, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, the entire original cast of Aykroyd, Ramis, Murray and Ernie Hudson return to voice their alter-egos, Dr’s Stantz, Spengler, Venkman and Zeddimore respectfully, as well as Annie Potts as the dry secretary Janine Melnitz. Joining the cast is Bill’s brother, Brian Doyle-Murray, who lends his distinctive voice as the latest Mayor of New York, Jock Mulligan.

William Atherton also returns as the original political nemesis to the team, Walter Peck, the civil servant responsible for paying for the team’s damages (grudgingly) while still seeking to remove their business license. The cast is rounded out by Alyssa Milano as the lead female role Dr. Ilyssa Selwyn: however while the in-game characters closely resemble the above cast (albeit in the Wii’s stylized version) no matter how much I squinted I just couldn’t see Milano’s likeness in her character, but I think the game plays out just fine regardless.

Set during Thanksgiving of 1991, the game plays out, according to Aykroyd, as “the third movie”.  The player’s character is soon allowed to explore the iconic Firehouse, where Janine will sit and answer the phone in her sarcastic droll, and Ecto-1A sits ready at the door. The cast welcomes the player as an “experimental equipment technician”, equipped with a Proton pack that becomes upgraded as the game progresses. From the laser-like Proton stream, players will be given a shotgun-style spread and the gooey slime blower from the second movie. The equipment is finished off by the night-vision styled goggles each team member wears, used in conjunction with the divining rod PKE meter.

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The game play is easy to pick up: players use their streams to wear down a target (ghost’s) displayed health until it is caught in the “capture stream”. Flicking the Wiimote to the side will ram the ghost into walls and floors until it is completely exhausted. Then, the player needs only to pull the tired spirit over the stylized ghost trap (identified by a bright shaft of light so it can always be found easily in the different environments) before being treated to a reenactment of the movie’s bright cone of light drawing the struggling ghost down into the box. A flicker of light and a puff of smoke completes the look nicely, before the trap is available to use again or be collected by the player.

Right away the action takes gamers to the familiar Sedgewick Hotel (home of the team’s first capture) to once again catch the escaped Slimer, acting as an in-game tutorial or “on the job training”.  Soon enough, players will pick up the controls nicely and find themselves facing the familiar Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the “Gray Lady” librarian from the first movie’s introduction.

The story follows a nice even pace, complimented with classic Ghostbusters commentary. Aykroyd as Ray Stantz shines through with his excitement, and it’s clear he has taken a lot of time and energy to write the script. It’s been confirmed that the various pieces of equipment are Dan’s own personal touches. When you receive your Dark Matter Generator attachment in-game, know that Dan Aykroyd had brought several notes and papers on Dark Matter itself to the table to prove why it would make the best possible shotgun-spreading effect on a slimy spook.

Murray (notorious for not doing third movies) is professional in his return as Peter Venkman, and owns the majority of the one-liners. Venkman is still a flirt and a slacker, and his dry sense of humour will welcome any old fan of the films nicely. In the first level alone, Peter welcomes a woman out of an elevator while smoothly informing her that she’s “perfectly safe now – the Ghostbusters are here”. The game is sadly quite short, but it is simply too much fun to hold its length against it. I found myself being able to play different levels over and over again to complete the game fully, enjoying the dialogue and the rich immersive gameplay.

A small cutscene I could never watch often enough was when Ray would call Peter for help in a tight spot, and (exclusive to the Wii/PS2 stylised version) Venkman would be shown sitting on a set of stairs sipping coffee, calmly explaining how he was far too busy holding off hordes of (non-existant) marshmallow minions to come help.

Movement is easy to pick up. Ghostbusters has standard controls and the game uses the most basic of the Wii’s motion sensor functions. The Wiimote is used to aim the pack’s “wand” and camera, as well as the crosshairs of the PKE’s scanner, very similar to Resident Evil 4. Making a bowling motion with the Nunchuk deploys the character’s hip-mounted Ghost Trap. It gave me a sense of the movie industry’s approach to make up; that sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest differences. Swinging your hand and watching your ‘Buster slide their trap across the floor in a similar fashion really helps draw you into the game’s world.

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Like the realistic version of the game, there are different collectables available in Ghostbusters for Wii. Where the PS3/360 had a player collecting haunted objects, the Wii will have you destroying different environmental features to find “art” pages. The Para-goggles and PKE meter (and I personally defy anyone to play the game without soon adopting the in-game equipment terms themselves) can be used to scan anything and everyone that has had contact with the paranormal.

A complete scan and corresponding artwork will complete the “Log Book Entry”, which can be referred to for help and weaknesses of targets, as well as different methods for removing obstacles. Each Log is essentially an excerpt of the often mentioned Tobin’s Spirit Guide, the closest thing doctor’s Spengler and Stantz would have to Bibles. Each entry comes complete with a note of literature from the author, giving the game a very spiritual theme. Reviewing these is possible from the pause screen however, and any feeling of otherworldly research can vanish fast when you finish reading and resume play in time to hear Winston sum up a description on “caustic hazardous ectoplasm” as “the stains won’t ever come out!”

Collecting different percentages of both of these (scans and artworks) unlocks different cheats, from faster scanning, quicker cool downs on weapon use and even unlimited player health. Curiously, using these codes won’t affect play, and won’t disable the save system, so it’s possible these are intended more as rewards to make replays easier.

The game does have another nice feature that’s exclusive to the stylized version, in that a player can choose between a plain blonde male and a pretty brunette female character. Unfortunately, the change is cosmetic only; the Rookie is throughout the game referred to as very gender-neutral (they, them, the cadet, etc), however at the very start an unchanged line of dialogue from Ramis’ Spengler dubs the player as male, and can spoil the feel of playing as the curvy (and strangely, busty) female cadet.

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As noted above, the game is very short, and so much fun that it can be difficult to stop playing. People can expect to finish the game only a few hours after starting. Fortunately, the style, feel and script more than make up for its length. It can really feel like you’re playing the third movie as Dan Aykroyd originally intended, and it’s fun enough to play over and over again.

The game features a lot of minor details that the most devoted Ghostbusters fans will love: keep an eye out for the second movie’s painting of the villain Vigo, which can be talked to by standing in front of it and pressing the action button. One of over a hundred lines of dialogue, from the threatening (My sword will taste your flesh!), to the insulting (Your zipper is down!) to the just plain silly (Pull my finger – I command you!) will play every time you do so. You might even be treated to a bit of future insight if you’re lucky!

Many loyal Nintendo fans might be a bit disappointed with so many of the better gaming titles being exclusive to the more powerful machines, but Ghostbusters for the Wii is every bit as fun as the realistic version. To casual gamers and fans of the movies it provides a wonderful gameplay experience, whilst diehard fans will feel like they’ve been rewarded for waiting so long for such an incredible follow-up.

The downside to all of this? The game’s shortness works against it, and the Wii’s motion sensor inputs might take a bit of time to adjust to. This dulls its slime-and-proton lustre just a bit too much for a wholehearted recommendation, but fans who own a Wii will want to check this one out regardless.

7.5 OUT OF 10.

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