One of the most anticipated games of the year is hitting shelves this week: "Ghostbusters: The Video Game," available on all major platforms. "Ghostbusters: TVG" serves as the follow-up to the "Ghostbusters 2" movie, and both original "Ghostbusters" creators Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd helped shape the script for the game. Most of the cast from the original films have returned to lend their voices to the game, including Ackroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson and William Atherton. Set two years after the events of "Ghostbusters 2," the game will have players taking on the role of a new ghost-busting recruit, who will be working with the original team. The story deals with a major paranormal event that happens on the eve of the Museum of Natural History's new 'World of Gozer' exhibit opening.
Unlike a lot of multiplatform releases, the Wii version of "Ghostbusters: TVG" is not a port. It's been built from the ground up to take advantage of Nintendo's platform, and it even sports some unique features that set it apart from the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions. At New York Comic Con 2009, CBR News spent some time with James Clarendon of Red Fly Studio, who gave us a demo of the Wii game in action and talked about what makes it stand out.
The level Clarendon showed us had the Ghostbusters making their way through a library, investigating a scene where some paranormal activity had taken place. The first thing that jumps out about the game on the Wii is the graphical design, which has much more in common with "The Real Ghostbusters" cartoon than the live action movies. "We decided to make the Wii version different from the 360 and PS3 versions," Clarendon told CBR News. "We gave more of an iconic realism look to the characters. They're a little cartoony, but we tried to get more of the emotions of the characters out. If you read Scott McCloud ("Understanding Comics"), he always talks about that iconic realism of the characters, and that's what we aimed at."
Another unique feature of the game is the ability for players to choose either a male or female Ghostbuster to play through the campaign with. Despite the differences in presentation from other versions, however, the core story of the Wii game remains the same. "We're going to be telling the same story, just in a different way," Clarendon explained. "You are the fifth Ghostbuster. We've got all four of the other characters from the movies in the game, and they'll help guide you, they'll split off and go do other things while you're working, and you'll work in tandem with them. [The story] draws on elements of both the first two films, so you'll be revisiting some old places and seeing a lot of new faces too."
Almost every Ghostbusters fan out there has imagined what it would be like to wield the power of the mighty proton pack, and the Wiimote is the perfect controller to bring that feeling to life. Basic movement is done with the nunchuck's analog stick, and the Wiimote is used to look around and aim. The trigger (B-button) fires the proton beam, and creatures that are trapped by it can be dragged around and slammed into things with the motion controls. Accessing inventory items can be done with the control pad.
"We wanted to make sure we were using the Wiimote as best we could," said Clarendon. "It really does feel like you've got a proton pack and a proton accelerator in your hand. When you throw out a trap, you hold down the 'Z' button on the nunchuck, and it's a simple bowling motion to toss it out."
The world of "Ghostbusters: TVG" is a highly interactive one, and players may find that causing mass destruction can be as fun as running through the story. "We've got plenty of stuff to blow up," Clarendon said as he leveled his proton beam at several bookshelves, sending debris flying everywhere. As he did so, a counter on screen kept track of the monetary damage he was causing. At the end of each level in the game, the Ghostbusters will receive a bill for the damages they've caused. "That will either go straight to the City or straight to Walter Peck, depending on how the story goes, and he'll flip out."
In addition to destroying the environment, players can use tools like the PKE meter and Spectral Goggles to track enemies as well as find clues and collectibles. "You'll be able to scan elements to get hints on how to defeat some of the ghosts. If you get lost, you can whip out the PKE meter and it will help guide you, Clarendon said. "It's not going to draw a line on the ground like 'Fable 2' or 'Dead Space' did, but it will give you a 'warmer...warmer...hot!' kind of feel to it."
At one point in the demo, Clarendon ran into the "Librarian" ghost from the first movie, who he took off in pursuit of as she sped away. Running through the library, he ran into an "Elemental." which resembled a golem made entirely out of books. Clarendon blasted the creature apart, explaining, "Some of the enemies you'll be able to take out with the proton beam. Others you'll have to trap and wrangle. Each of the ghosts has some different abilities to them, so you won't just be doing the same thing over and over again."
Clarendon then proceeded to show us the wrangling gameplay, where he trapped a ghost with the proton beam and slammed it into the floor several times. "One of the things we worked really hard to do was to make sure the wrangling was both fun and interesting," he said. "The ghosts you have to wrangle are tougher than your average enemies. You have to wear them down." Once he had weakened the ghost, he threw out the trap and it was gone. The other Ghostbusters helped out during combat, but Clarendon told us the player would always be the center of the action.
Arguably, the biggest standout feature of "Ghostbusters: The Video Game" for the Wii is the campaign co-op mode, which is completely unique to this version. "One of the cool things we have is full co-op throughout the whole game," explained Clarendon. The co-op is local and is presented in horizontal split screen. Adding a friend to the mix also introduces an element of competition as players move through the story. "It's fun to compete with your buddy, even though you're working toward the same goal, to see who can rack up the most damage. You'll get a title based on how much damage you did, everything from 'Hall Monitor' to 'Becoming a Liability' to 'Walking Lawsuit,' so it's pretty fun."
CBR would like to thank James Clarendon of Red Fly Studio for the demo and interview. "Ghostbusters: The Video Game" is set for release on June 16. For more information on all versions of the game, head over to www.ghostbustersgame.com.