GHOSTBUSTERS: THE VIDEO GAME / Atari / Nintendo DS
With almost 20 years behind us since the last Ghostbusters movie, and nary even a crappy cartoon for a good ten years or so, there's really only one possible way to make any kind of money off of a Ghostbusters video game at this point - actually make it a quality product that appeals to the nostalgia of whatever fanbase the original movies have left. That's exactly what Atari has attempted to do here, apparently licensing the rights to the original films from Sony and Columbia so that music, characters and images from them can be used in the game.
The game follows the exploits of the Ghostbusters, apparently as they're just starting out prior to the events of the movies. The inspiration here is something like Grand Theft Auto 3 combined with an RPG, however. Upon starting a new game, you are immediately tossed into the Driving Mode, wherein you take the Ecto-1 about town in a manner much like a very simple version of the 3D Grand Theft Auto games or the Driver games on the original Playstation. You've got a time limit of a couple of minutes or so to get to a Mission; there's always at least one that advances the plot, which appears as a red exclamation point, but there are also semi-random "ghost generated missions" which are marked with a green exclamation point and serve to allow you to build up ectoplasm and captured ghosts, which lead to more money. More money means more upgrades, which is where the RPG elements come in. You can upgrade the teams equipment and the Ecto-1 as you gain more cash.
Updating the Ecto-1 is virtually required right away, however, as unfortunately the driving mode is the weakest part of the game. The controls are very finicky, the game seems to take place in constant night and fog, and other cars on the road pay you no attention at all (unlike in the GTA games) and happily plow right into you if you get into their paths. This is a problem as every collision slows the Ecto-1 down, and after only five or six it limps along at a hideously slow pace and requires a good chunk of change to get repaired.
When the team gets to a misson, you control all four simultaneously. You select who is directly under your control, however, and each character has their own unique strengths. Despite his constant smarm, Venkman is the best at talking to people and negotiating, Egon does all the science stuff, Ray fixes mechanical things and talks to ghosts, and Winston ... well, I guess he's the tank of the group.
The controls here are pretty good, but I didn't like having to tap the stylus on the screen to fire the proton beams, it was awkward switching to that from using A to interact with everything else. The game is decent, but very repetitive - the randomly generated missions are extremely samey, with the same generic objectives over and over again, and the story missions usually aren't far off. There's a few battles with boss monsters from the movies and some newcomers, but they are far less intense than you'd expect them to be.
Given the standards of previous Ghostbusters games - which were nearly all hideous crap - the quality level of this one is surprising. That said, it still isn't great. The presence of the original cast (in recognizable form), scenarios from the movie, the extra depth of running the Ghostbusters business and the use of symphonic music from the movie score (as well as the famous theme song while driving the Ecto-1) are all welcome and do a lot to make the game appealing. It's still a little too repetitive and tedious, however, and the driving mode roundly sucks. It was interesting enough to get me piqued to check out one of the console releases, however, which are reportedly better than this one ...
* Gameplay Video