Retro Review | Ghostbusters (2009)

Retro Review | Ghostbusters (2009)

Huge Ghostbusters fan, John, plays the 2009 licenced game on the Nintendo Wii



Name: Ghostbusters

FormatNintendo Wii

Released: November 6th, 2009

Developer: Red Fly Studio

Publisher: Atari



Who doesn’t love the Ghostbusters? The hit comedy film from 1984 has long been revered as a classic film which also spawned a sequel, a long-running animated series and comics amongst other merchandising.

Sony Pictures rebooted the franchise in 2016 with a new film featuring an all-female Ghostbusting crew directed by Paul Feig. The film was heavily lambasted on the internet before its release for “ruining my childhood” by using a female group.

As I said in my review of the film, I was pleasantly surprised how the film turned out and I didn’t understand the huge amount of hate it generated.

However, in the intervening years between 1989’s Ghostbusters 2 and the 2016 reboot, Dan Akroyd who played Raymond Stantz in the original films, worked hard in trying to get a third film into production.

The two biggest problems appeared to be creating a script that everyone agreed upon and also getting fellow Ghostbusters’ actor Bill Murray to agree to come back as a Ghostbuster once again.

In 2009, the fans were given the comprise in the form of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, which was released on Windows, Xbox360, PlayStation 2,3 and PSP, Nintendo Wii and DS.

As I reported in one of my “What Could Have Been?” articles, this all started in 2006 when a development team calling themselves Zootfly posted videos to YouTube of a Ghostbusters game they had started to work on despite not having obtained the official licence to do so.

Ray, Peter and Egon. The stylised look of the Ghostbusters on the Nintendo Wii.

Zootfly were never able to obtain that licence but the strong positive reactions from the videos are what set the wheels in motion for an official game to be produced. The game would finally release three years later to mark the 25th anniversary of the original film’s release into cinemas.

Dan Akroyd went on record that this video game will essentially act as a third movie.

What made the game that little bit extra special, especially if you were a Ghostbusters fan, was the inclusion of the original actors to provide the voice work.

Dan Akroyd (Ray Stantz), Harold Ramis (Egon Spengler), Bill Murray (Peter Venkman) and Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore) all returned to reprise their roles along with several other cast members.

William Atherton returned as the obnoxious Environmental Protection Agency member Walter Peck, Annie Potts once again played the hard working Ghostbusters’ secretary and even Max Von Sydow voiced Vigo the Carpathian who was the ancient villain from Ghostbusters 2.

I originally owned the game for the Xbox360 and visually it was a treat. The cast all retained their real-life likenesses and it was in essence like taking part in a third Ghostbusters movie.

Since recently requiring a Nintendo Wii, as you may have noticed from my recent spate of retro gaming reviews, I decided to play Ghostbusters again.

The first you’ll notice is the graphics are very different to the version you’ll find on the more powerful consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox360.

The Wii doesn’t have the power required to draw such detailed likenesses of the actors from the film so a different approach was taken. In this case, characters are represented in the game as cartoon-like caricatures and it works extremely well.

Those books weren’t valuable, were they?

The graphics on a whole are simpler than the previously mentioned versions but this doesn’t make it ugly or less attractive. It has its own level of charm that I really appreciated.

As the game was running on the Nintendo Wii, you know the controls are going to involve a lot more movement than when playing with a standard joypad.

Your “weapon” throughout the game is the infamous proton backpack, an unlicensed nuclear accelerator that generates powerful proton streams allowing you to capture ghosts.

More from The Unheard Nerd |   Stranger Things Season 3 Brings A New Video Game

In the game, the proton pack becomes upgraded with various types of “guns”. As you progress through the levels, different types of guns affect different ghosts and the key is learning which one will deplete the enemies energy bar the quickest.

Once a ghost has been defeated, it needs to be captured. The game utilises both the Wii remote and the attached nunchuck. Pointing the remote directly at the screen allows you aim a targeting reticule for your weapons whilst the joystick on the nunchuck controls your movement.

First, you must activate the backpacks proton stream and capture the ghost. Following the on-screen directions, slam the ghost into the environment in one of four chosen directions which will change several times.

Finally, you must swing the nunchuck in an underarm arc towards the screen whilst pressing the Z button (although I later discovered that just pressing it without any movement has the same effect) which will make your character throw a ghost trap along the floor.

The ghost trap automatically opens. Using the nunchuck, you must manoeuvre the ghost into the inverted pyramid of light emitting from the trap. Do this successfully and the ghost will be sucked in and captured.

Of course, this is exactly what happens in the films and as a Ghostbusters fan, replicating this sequence in the game always brought a smile to my face. Having to physically move your body in order to achieve this, for me, makes you that little bit closer to feeling like a Ghostbuster.

Don’t worry, the Stay Puft marshmallow man isn’t so tough this time around.

Also, the damage you cause with your proton stream is kept as a record. It’s fun to destroy furniture and light fittings and watch that dollar total in the corner of the screen keep on rising.

But what about the story that holds the game together? This is where I feel the game let me down slightly. Ghostbusters: The Game should really be known as Ghostbusters: Greatest Hits.

The game’s story is set two years after the events of Ghostbusters 2. You play a new recruit in the Ghostbusters team (and you can choose whether to be male or female). You’re never actually given a name, you’re always referred to as rookie, sport, new kid etc.

A large PKE shock-wave hits New York City releasing ghosts everywhere. The Ghostbusters are now contractors for the city and must start to clean up this new mess.

The first building you will work your way through will lead to a confrontation with none other than the Stay Puft marshmallow man. As this is the first level, he’s not that tough.

As you progress you’ll revisit ghosts and locations from the first two films such as the Sedgewick Hotel, the New York public library and Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters 2.

Whilst I can’t deny it was entertaining, I felt it was a shame that various elements from the films were reused to form a new plot structure that tied the two original films and this game together. It’s almost of the development team were playing safe and didn’t want to stray away from the original source material.

The same could also be said about the game’s soundtrack. Most of the film’s original score is reused again to help keep that Ghostbusters’ nostalgia level high. I found myself playing the game and thinking, “oh! That’s from the scene when they visit the library” rather than enjoying the moment for what it was.

Overall, if your any sort of Ghostbusters fan, this game is very entertaining but it plays too safely by leaning too heavily on the film’s plotlines and characters rather than trying something new.

I can’t deny this is a fun game for Ghostbusters fans not just on the Wii but also the PlayStation 3 and Xbox360 releases as well. It’s just a shame the story gives the game the “greatest hits” feel.


John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves the movies and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990's. Whilst the web page idea became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. Now he's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.