The ire surrounding the 2016 Ghostbusters film caught flak from some hateful trolls but it did point out the hunger for more Ghostbusters before disappearing from the public’s consciousness. However, there was a Ghostbusters 3 but not in the traditional sense. Tucked away in the middle of the last generation, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is the rare shining star among licensed titles that captures everything you’d want to see from the films while telling its own tale. The Ghostbusters game is not perfect, but it’s certainly a better option than anything that today’s Hollywood machine is going to cook up. And thanks to its upcoming remaster, wannabe Ghostbusters should give this neglected gem another look.
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When you load up Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the first time, you don’t only get a logo for the dearly departed Terminal Reality. You don’t just get the Atari logo. You get two versions of the Colombia logo: a modern one before you start the festivities and an appropriately aged one for the game’s intro. That’s just your first indication that everything about the presentation of Ghostbusters shows how much care went into this experience.
When you first load into the firehouse, you have the chance to explore and see more of these details. You can find newspaper articles depicting the team’s past victories, complete with photos from the film. Your proton pack is jam-packed with all the levers and gizmos you’d expect, and every particle blast sounds accurate to what you remember. Sure, a few of the lines could have used another take during recording, but the writing is there. This is where the story goes after Vigo.
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Perhaps the best part of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is that it’s not just a retread of previous material despite its similarities. You still fight a giant marshmallow man, excise a ghost from the Sedgewick hotel, fight against Walter Peck’s order to shut the team down, and have Winston Zeddemore join the team in the midst of their mission. However, all these elements build towards a completely original finale that takes the Ghostbusters beyond what they’ve seen before. In fact, before Sony Pictures stopped them, the original plan from both the development and writing side was to just call the game Ghostbusters 3.
Whatever the name, this adventure adds to the plots of both previous films and makes the entire story feel like a cohesive trilogy. Even the player character, the cliché unnamed new recruit, doesn’t feel completely out of place. This isn’t a retread or a side story, this is the story after the two films.
Because of that, each of the four main characters has roles to play, as does your “rookie.” You’re the guinea pig for all of Egon’s new gadgets, an escalation for the tech born from the new types of slime the team discovered in the second film. This gives you a reason to use all the new gadgets and has some justifications within the narrative.
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Loading up the original PC release of the game (which has long since been taken off of Steam) can give you a good idea of where the remaster is heading. At max settings, Ghostbusters runs at a smooth 60 frames per second and beyond. While a decade old, the graphics still hold up beautifully, and the destructibility of the environment is still impressive. While it’s funny how easy it is to kick chairs around, it’s amazing to see such a reactive environment. Everything you shoot breaks apart realistically, which is a far cry from a lot of 2019 experiences.
That’s not to say that Ghostbusters is going to live up to modern standards. The control scheme should be modernized and the cutscenes need another pass to look good. However, as a narrative experience for fans, there’s no better way to return to the series. Much like Telltale’s Back to the Future, Ghostbusters offers a pitch-perfect continuation of the series. If we’re lucky, the game may gain notability this time around. It can finally serve as the perfect sendoff to Peter Venkman and company that it was always meant to be. If that comes to pass, maybe the internet won’t get so mad when another Ghostbusters adventure hits theaters. A fan can dream.