Will the new Ghostbusters film bring a new game with it?
When the news and rumours surrounding the Ghostbusters reboot hit the web last fall, we took on the naysayers (in our article here) and every reason they could possibly come up with to argue that this isn’t a good idea. Sorry, but it is a good idea, and plenty of people cannot wait to see the film when it’s released in the summer of 2016. For most, it’s just the fact they’re eager to see how this whole things pans out, be they fans of the original, the actresses involved in the reboot, or some combination of the two. But for others, it’s more about what’ll arrive alongside the movie—yes, we’re talking about merch and, more specifically, the expected video game adaptation(s).
To date, the beloved comedy-meets-the-paranormal franchise’s games have been a mixed bag that’s rarely seen much success. And we’re talkin’ success beyond sales numbers, because of course these titles have done well over the years, because who isn’t attracted to the idea of playing as Venkman and co.? As you can imagine, there have been numerous attempts to capture the brilliance of the two films and translate it into gaming, albeit with minimal success. It’s not even worth assessing all of the games that were released when the movies themselves hit theatres, because they were primarily quick cash-ins with horrid graphics and boring gameplay. So, let’s focus on the past five to ten years, shall we?
Unfortunately, even a limited timespan yields disappointing results in this regard. OK, that’s not entirely true, because the greatest game associated with the films, the aptly tiled Ghostbusters: The Video Game, was released in 2009. It takes place on Thanksgiving 1991, a full two years after the second film’s narrative, and features some solid graphics, great voice work from the original actors, and (most importantly) top-notch gameplay. As IGN wrote in their review, “you’re getting a new tale in the Ghostbusters canon, fun gameplay, a whole bunch of stuff to destroy, and some cool ghosts to scan.” Agreed, especially regarding the bit about it being another entry in the Ghostbusters story. It essentially gives you a third film in the form of a game, and who can be mad at that?
What you can be mad at is 2011’s Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, an absolute mess of a game that took everything that worked about Ghostbusters: The Video Game and threw it out the window. In Sanctum of Slime, the emphasis is on multiplayer gaming—and that’s fine! However, it’s how it all works, or attempts to, that makes it a painful experience. The issues are summed up well in this review on the game by PSN Stores, who make note of the terrible visuals, boring and exceedingly difficult gameplay, and frequent crashes/glitches. The writer was at least happy to see Slimer make an appearance, so there’s that.
In the wake of Ghostbusters: The Video Game’s success and the failure of Sanctum of Slime, it’s apparent that you can’t rush these types of games (or games in general, really). If you do go that route—I’m talking to you, developers—opt for something silly and easy to digest that you know won’t upset fans and potential consumers. Take the Ghostbusters-themed slot game that you can play here. Rather than attempt to make it something bigger (or sell it as such), it’s clearly presented as a clever, pop culture-themed experience with animated callbacks to the first two films. The same goes for the mobile game Monster Dash, (which you can download on this site), and its simplicity. It’s your typical sidescrolling endless runner, as in you don’t perform much more than basic actions like jumping, but it’s got the Ghostbusters theme.
Really, it’s those smaller games that make me that much more excited for the Ghostbusters reboot. At the very least, we’ll surely get more of those to coincide with the film’s release, as developers are quick to hop on the hype train. And that’s OK! Let’s just hope it brings another Ghostbusters: The Video Game along with it, too.