Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night? Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic? Have you or your family ever seen a spook, specter or ghost?
If the answer is "yes," the professionals, the Ghostbusters, would recommend that you call them right away. Thankfully, they are very accessible these days, with their multiplatform game, Ghostbusters: The Video Game. We've read some thoughts on the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, but what if you want or need to exorcise evil spirits through your Nintendo Wii?
Have no fear, because rookie Ghostbusters Ashley Davis and Anthony Burch are ready to believe you. They have played through the entire game to help you in your time of need. The first reviewer gives her take on the game without influence from the other versions (though she is working on getting through them), while the second examines how the different versions stack up, having played both home console games in full (he has way too much time on his hands).
Hit the jump to see their thoughts, and whether or not they continue to constantly quote the movie throughout the review (they can't help it, they're nerds).
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Wii)
Developer: Red Fly Studio
Released: June 16, 2009
All the various versions of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is about the closest thing we will ever get to a Ghostbusters 3, and fans of the property ought to rejoice its presence, as it is one of the more solid movie games to have ever been made. Although the Wii version feels more like a five hour long playable Ghostbusters cartoon than anything else, that does not make it any less deserving of the franchise name.
It gives off a lot of the same nostalgic vibes that its source material has for the past 20 years, with some great dialogue and a new storyline that could have been ripped directly from another movie sequel. There are lots of visits to familiar locations, and many of the faces to be seen are ones that we've all seen before, but because we have never had the opportunity to fight alongside the Ghostbusters before, it all feels somewhat new again. The AI behind the Ghostbuster crew isn't the best ever, but they are pretty good about helping out with large crowds of enemies and not getting in the way. The game is separated into several small chunks of story, with a boss fight and a trip back to headquarters every three levels or so. This makes it all very easy to pick up and put down at one's leisure.
The controls are as simple as simple gets. You move with the Nunchuk, aim with the Wiimote and press B to shoot. The D-pad scrolls through the three different weapons (Blast Stream, Slime Blower, Shock Blast) and the PKE Meter. Each of these has a secondary function that can be performed by pressing A. The learning curve needed to become a great Ghostbuster is not at all steep, which makes it easy for anyone to jump right in and play like they've been busting ghosts all their lives.
Perhaps the best part of the game is that the whole thing can be played cooperatively. A friend can join you for some split screen action whenever you start a new game, continue a saved game, or go back to play a previous level. Running around, trapping ghosts and solving puzzles with your various guns is pretty fun, especially if you have a friend to do it with. In addition to helping each other out, you can slime one another and cross your streams (this, of course, results in instadeath) just for kicks. Unfortunately, the game doesn't let the second player stray too far from the first, making it hard to split up and do more damage. on larger maps. Otherwise, the game is very well-tailored to fit in two players, with enough enemies and things to do for everyone. It even gives turns to each player when they are slamming around the same spook.
While Ghostbusters is generally good times, the game does have its flaws. There were a few slight problems with the game's otherwise great control scheme. As is usual with Wii games, these problems concern the few actions that are mapped to motion controls. I had some problems getting the game to register my flicking up and down. Left and right were quite a bit better, but the down motion is needed to get through some puzzles near the end of the game. My problems with getting the flicks to pick up made these portions a lot harder and frustrating than they needed to be, but thankfully, there were only one or two situations where this issue tested my patience.
One very small issue with the gameplay itself is that there is never much of an incentive to use anything other than the Blast Stream in most combat situations, and the puzzles that do use the others aren't terribly varied. For the better part of the game, I used the Blast Stream and its secondary, the Boson Dart. The latter weapon is a bit too powerful, knocking off a good chunk of health off of any enemy you may come across. I would have liked a little more variation in weapon usage both in and out of combat, if only to help keep the combat from growing stale.
From the lowly (in regards to power) Slimer to the biggest specters, all of the ghosts in the game must be weakened, slammed around, and then roped into a standard ghost trap, thrown by a press of the Z button. Some enemies do need a little dousing in slime or dark matter to start off with, but the other weapons are never used for more than a few seconds before switching back to the old standby. There are a scant few cool puzzles using the other two guns, but they really could have done so many more neat things to integrate them better with the gameplay. The PKE Meter, on the other hand, is very intuitive and useful. When equipped, it simply leads you to the nearest supernatural activity. A press of the A button will equip you with PKE Goggles, enabling you to clearly see the paranormal goings-on around you. This can be a hidden ghost, items that can be interacted with, the weak points of a boss, and even invisible platforms that are poking into the real world through the Ghostworld.
The boss fights lend a big hand in keeping things interesting too. Sure they're all dragged into a trap at the end, but the weakening process differs wonderfully from one to the other. In one boss fight, the player must shoot the boss's projectiles back at it, and then rip out one of its many tongues with the capture stream while it is recuperating. In another, one can only hurt the boss by destroying the safety net under it and knocking it off the wall, causing it to hit the ground hard. Each one utilizes a different weapon as well. Most of the boss fights are a great reward for getting through an area, even more so if you find yourself getting tired of the same old song and dance on the way there.
The biggest annoyance by far is the game's collectibles, which are pages from Tobin's Spirit Guide that are strewn all over each level. Every time you pick one of these pages up, regardless of whether or not you're in the middle of a fight, the screen switches over to the Guide to show you what's on the page you just found. There is no reason for this screen to pop up every time you get a new page when you can access the guide at any time from the pause menu. It jolts you out of the action for nothing. I eventually started to avoid collecting the pages altogether, as they aren't much use other than for 100 percent completion.
On the graphical side of things, there's nothing too special here besides the nice, cartoony style of the characters (although the designs have questionable origins). At best, the game looks like it belongs on the Playstation 2, and that's really a shame, as much better can and has been done on the Wii. There is also some noticeable slowdown while fighting lots of respawning, flying enemies, which happens a few times near the end of the game. The score is taken straight from the movies, but isn't too varied. On the other hand, the dialogue is humorous and the voice acting top notch (with the exception of Alyssa Milano's work, which is rather uninspired). Some of the lines differ from what is spoken to the subtitles, assumedly to keep the game safely nestled in its E rating. There are enough references and familiar lines grouped with some great new quotes to make any fan delighted.
The Wii version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is by no means the perfect game, but it is a great movie-to-game adaptation, and a very fun and entertaining way to spend some time with some old friends if you're a Wii-owning Ghostbusters lover. As this is a very character and story driven videogame, if you're not a fan of the movies or the humor within them, you may not be as tolerant of the easy and somewhat repetitive gameplay as those who dig the characters and story might. The intuitive gameplay, interesting boss fights, and ability to co-op are plusses for all gamers, while the easy difficulty level and short game length are some of the negatives. It could be a buy for the biggest Ghostbusters fans, but I would definitely recommend this game as a rental first for most.
As someone who played through the 360 version of Ghostbusters twice in the span of a week, I could not help but constantly compare the Wii version against it all throughout my single playthrough. In the end, one version felt more satisfying to me than the other -- but not by much.
For every forward step the Wii version takes past its 360 counterpart, it unfortunately takes another step back. In the 360 version, for instance, the later levels included poorly designed, restart-heavy combat sections where you entire team might be slaughtered in an instant. The Wii version is much easier on normal difficulty and mitigates the frustration of constant, unfair death, but at the expense of becoming somewhat dull and redundant in the game's latter missions. I truly can't count how many times I'd walk into a room, only to have the doors forced shut by a magical force that refused to open them until I'd captured every single ghost in the room. The level design and progression structure are almost totally different from version to version: entire sections from the New York and Ghostworld levels have been totally excised from the Wii version, and many of the levels that both versions share have been significantly cut down for the Wii. In itself, this isn't necessarily a good or bad thing (though I really, really miss the Super Trap level right before the Stay Puft fight); it's just different.
The Wii version's poorly credited art style not only effectively embraces the Wii's technical limitations while still retaining an essential Ghostbusters feel, it also removes one of the most glaring faults with the 360 and PS3 versions -- Bill Murray's dialogue. When Peter Venkman looked like a regular dude, his over-the-top lines felt forced and irritating. When Peter Venkman looks like a cartoony version of his former self, his lines somehow work much better. A few Venkman quotes that originally made me roll my eyes actually elicited smirks this time around. The tradeoff for this is that the game's cartoonified Ray Stantz more resembles a talking baked potato than Dan Aykroyd.
It's worth noting, though, that all of Venkman's sexual innuendos -- both of them -- have been excised in order to keep an "E" rating. It's all right, though, because there's a lot of new and alternate dialogue in the Wii version you won't find anywhere else, almost all of it good.
The 360 version focused far more on combat, often to its detriment -- by the halfway point, the game felt remarkably similar to any other 3rd-person shooter you could name. The Wii version, conversely, puts a much greater focus on the puzzles Ashley described above. Where the 360 version might only use a weapon like the Stasis Stream to make the process of bustin' ghosts easier, the Wii version at one point had Davis and I running through a corridor made of huge, turning gears that could only be traversed by well-timed blasts from our proton freeze ray. A couple of the puzzles are genuinely imaginative, and often more interesting than much of the repetitive combat that fills the 360 version's latter half.
It's a good thing, too, because most of the combat in Wii Ghostbusters is tedious and unsatisfying. Don't get me wrong, it feels great to tear up the environment with an IR sensor-controlled proton pack, and moderately satisfying to throw out a trap by holding down the Z button and swinging your arm forward. The main problem is that the simple process of bustin' a ghost is nowhere near as compelling or well-paced as it is in the other versions of the game. After doing enough damage to an apparition with the proton pack, the ghost can be wrangled. In the 360 version, this means you can either start pressing the L trigger to slam him into walls and floors at your leisure until you feel like dragging him into the trap.
In the Wii version, this means you have to play through a poorly paced, barely interactive game of simon says. A big red arrow appears on the ghost telling you to slam him to the right, so you flick your Wiimote to the right. Then, a short pause. Another red arrow shows up telling you to slam him in another direction, and if you don't move the Wiimote in the correct way then nothing happens and the damage isn't done. After you've finally whittled the ghost's health down, you simply move it near the trap to automatically capture it. There's no satisfying struggle to keep the ghost within the cone of light emanating from the trap as he slowly descends into it, like you get in the 360 version -- he just runs into the trap and disappears.
After a few hours of bustin', I began to lament the sight of each new ghost. Having to wait for the game to tell me when I was allowed to slam a ghost felt so clunky and uninvolving that at one point, I actually groaned aloud when four ghosts sprang up out of nowhere. While some of the Wii levels are unquestionably better than the 360 ones -- the Ghostworld boss is way better, and I actually exclaimed, "that's awesome!" upon seeing the Wii version's interpretation of the Spider Woman's lair -- a game called Ghostbusters should not, ideally, make me dread the actual act of busting ghosts.
The co-op in Ghostbusters Wii is much more satisfying than the online play available on the other versions. Davis and I constantly crossed our streams for fun (try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light), and I took frequent sadistic pleasure in slowing her down with the slime gun whenever possible. Where multiplayer is concerned, both games are missing something that feels downright necessary; it's up to you whether you value a local cooperative campaign more than online, plot-free multiplayer.
If it weren't for the unfortunate bustin' mechanics, I would find it impossible to determine if Ghostbusters for the Wii was better or worse than the other, prettier versions that have been offered. The Wii version utilizes the alternate weapons in a more imaginative, consistent, and puzzle-centric way. It includes a fair amount of new, funny dialogue and one or two levels that irrefutably trump their 360 counterparts. In the end, though, the immensely satisfying act of wrangling a ghost into submission -- that one gameplay mechanic the 360 and PS3 versions absolutely nailed -- has been replaced with a tedious and disappointing Simon Says minigame repeated ad infinitum throughout the game's five hour running time. The Wii version has a hell of a lot going for it, and I strongly recommend renting it if you either don't own a PS3 or 360, or if you're still hungry for a little more Ghostbusters action after finishing the other versions. It's just a shame that, where the Wii version is concerned, bustin' didn't make me feel good.
I swear to God, I won't say that again for another six months.
Final score: 5.75 -- Mediocre (5s are an exercise in apathy, neither Solid nor Liquid. Not exactly bad, but not very good either. Just a bit "meh," really.)
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