Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered (Switch) Review
Ghostbusters is a franchise that never seemed to truly go away before the recent reboot and the even more recent reboot/sequel. Between the movies and various animated series and comics, ghosts have been getting busted. There were talks about a third movie involving the original cast that just never eventuated. For a while it seemed we would never see where Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis were going to take the series, but then came along the Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Not only were both of them contributing to the story, it seems like they got everyone together (Bill Murray) and might get to make some kind of follow up. This was a decade ago, we got a good follow up to the movie series and a game that felt like it was a loving homage to the franchise. Now in the age of the remaster, and with another Ghostbusters movie due next year, what better time to make this game accessible to the current gen of consoles.
It’s 1991 and the Ghostbusters are keeping the streets of New York safe from ectoplasmic threats. You play as ‘the rookie’ brought on board to help test the more experimental and dangerous equipment. A mysterious supernatural shock wave washes over the city and begins to unleash chaos. Ray, Egon, Peter and Winston also happen to be putting a new rookie through their paces before everything goes to hell (potentially literally). The story dives deep into the lore built up from the two movies, finding new ways to make old and seemingly throwaway characters matter to the overarching story. Ghostbusters takes the story in some really interesting directions. It’s easy to see that plans for the third movie have definitely wound up here in some form. It was also nice to just spend more time with the team and the world they created decades ago.
Ghostbusters is a third person shooter. Instead of a gun, the rookie is armed with the famous proton pack. This highly dangerous piece of equipment fires out a stream from a Neutrona Wand. It weakens and eventually ensnares ghosts before pulling them into the iconic ghost trap (or Muon trap). The stream you fire isn’t the most accurate, like the movie it moves quite wildly and feels out of control. When you weaken a ghost down, you can use a capture stream to grab the ghost and pull the opposite direction the ghost is moving to slam them. Once you’ve slammed all of their strength away you can drag them more easily into the path of the ghost trap. Busting ghosts isn’t always this easy, there are other supernatural beings/objects that don’t need to be captured as you destroy their corporeal form. There are also beings that need their physical armour removed before you can get at that ghosty centre. The proton pack doesn’t provide a constant stream. You need to vent (or reload) the pack or risk overheating, having to wait before you’re back in business.
Over the ten hours you’ll accumulate a few experimental additions to the trusty proton pack. There’s the Stasis Beam for slowing down ghosts, also the games’ shotgun equivalent. Then there’s the Slime Blower that shoots a stream of slime to remove the nasty slime laying around. It can also create slime tethers to objects you attach it to, or ghosts. Finally there’s the Meson Collider, more of a gun than the others, firing energy balls as well as being able to pick a target for the blasts to home in on. I still preferred using the basic proton wand with its overcharged blast most of the time, it just feels better to use than the others.
Now not only is it about bustin’ ghosts, you also want to scan and catalogue them too. You are given a pair of Ecto Goggles and a P.K.E meter to be able to track ghosts hidden away as well as scan visible ones. There’s also haunted items throughout the levels that you’ll want to collect too. This leads to the same issue with most games that offer a ‘detective mode’- you spend too much time with this visual overlay so you don’t miss anything.
The game never feels like its bad to play. At times sections drag on, but the story moves along at a decent enough pace that it never gets stale. It’s a tricky balance telling a story while also needing a good reason to be capturing ghosts or chasing them. Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a good way to spend a few hours if you really love that series. No Ghostbusters game since has captured the fun of blasting ghosts with a proton pack.
While this is the Ghostbusters Remastered, the visuals don’t really show it on the Switch. They aren’t bad, but they do look their age. All of the team unmistakably look like their movie counterparts, for as well as they could given the graphics of the time. The game is filled with locations, characters and items pulled from the movies, and it shows that they tried to give the game the level of detail that would make Dan Ackroyd weep. While games based on old franchises can play on nostalgia, and Ghostbusters will definitely make you feel nostalgic, but it feels like it does the series justice.
Like the story and visuals, Ghostbusters keeps the sound as authentic as possible from the music of the original movies to the sounds of the equipment. To top it off there are the original four Ghostbusters filling their roles. Back in 2009, it was wild that they somehow managed to wrangle Bill Murray into this, who passed on reprising his role for a third movie, but here he is. For other roles they’ve gotten the original actors whenever they could, although sadly no Rick Moranis or Sigourney Weaver. But hey, William Atherton is back as Walter Peck. Some of the music can wear a little thin when you’re hearing the same track several hours in, but like the visuals this game gives the iconic franchise the attention to detail that helps make the game that little bit more likeable.
As usual, the Switch version of a ‘Remaster’ feels tenuous at best. The latest iterations of current platforms visuals are usually remastered for 4K, and enhancements that make most of the current generation of hardware. As you all likely know by now, the Switch doesn’t have the horsepower to add many bells and whistles. Hell, there’s enough last gen ports that seem to be poorly optimised as it is. Good news is that Ghostbusters runs pretty well. The frame rate can bounce around a little, but never in a detrimental way. The only real issues with the game are ones that were present a decade ago. Checkpoints are too few and far between the moments you’re likely to be killed, moments when there is no other ghostbuster to help revive you leading to instant death. The camera, like almost every other camera in 2009, needs to be manually controlled as you’re having to keep track of multiple enemies.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered might not do anything new for the Switch version, but fortunately there was already a good game there with a story that any Ghostbusters fan should experience at least once. We might not get the 4K, frankly, the visuals wouldn’t look much better for it, but Switch owners get to play it anywhere. So how could it not be the best version to revisit, or to experience for the first time. More than anything, check out this game if you’re having trouble waiting until next year for the reboot and sequel.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
+ A detailed homage to the original Ghostbusters movies
+ They finally got the band back together
+ Using a proton pack is just plain fun
- Checkpoints can feel a little too far apart
- 2009 camera controls
- Forever keeping the Ecto Goggles on
- Needs more Ray Parker Jr.