I'm always surprised that there aren't more Ghostbusters games, especially in the management sim genre. David Crane's 1984 official tie-in got the ball rolling with a game that asked you to run the Ghostbusters business rather than simply zapping spirits, but nobody has bothered to revisit the idea. Until now.
Unfortunately, the developer doing the revisiting is Capcom's Beeline Interactive, the same studio responsible for the controversial Smurfs' Village, one of the first iOS games to raise questions about the micro-payment gameplay model. Ghostbusters, sadly, follows the same payment-heavy, gameplay-lite path.
After a short tutorial in which you're schooled in the ways of bustin' by cartoon versions of Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Zeddemore, you're left to your own devices as the owner of the New York Ghostbusters franchise with three new recruits in your team. A nearby skyscraper has been taken over by a mysterious purple portal and your long term goal is to reach the top of this tower and save the day.
Cut through all the fan service, ignore the not-bad script being performed with something approaching enthusiasm from the original cast, and the Ghostbusters game is as ephemeral as the glowing spectres that Venkman and friends spend their time chasing and zapping. That was true of the version released on the 360 and PS3, and it's even truer of this Wii-flavoured spin on the same source material, which strips the already slender gameplay to the bone for no good reason.
Don't go expecting anything radically different in structure to the existing game. Events unfold in much the same way, although certain elements have been moved around - the book golem appears in a different form, for example - but since it uses the exact same script and dialogue, there's clearly a limit to how distinctive it can be. Bill Murray's alimony payments may be steep, but they're obviously not large enough to get him back into the recording booth just for Nintendo owners.
So, as before, we get to recreate the ballroom battle with Slimer, then dash off to face the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, before jaunting over to the New York Public Library to meet up with the Gray Lady for a spot of narrative closure on the one that got away. As an opening salvo it shamelessly grabs the nostalgia nodes and tweaks them until they chafe. These are the bits that fans dreamed of playing for years, and the game falls over itself in its rush to deliver.
Battlefield 1943 tops the bill on the PlayStation Store this week, with GBP 10 the asking price for a slice of Pacific World War II online multiplayer madness. There's a free trial to test the waters, and you can expect our final verdict later this morning.
Also up for grabs are Ghostbusters and FUEL demos. We've reviewed both, and prefer the former over the latter.
MotorStorm: Pacific Rift gains tracks, variants, vehicles, characters, paintjobs and Trophies as part of an Adrenaline expansion, while Skate 2 emulates the Maloof Cup skateboarding event through DLC.
Ghostbusters, Prototype, Bionic Commando, FUEL, Wolverine, Red Faction.
We've reached a new Face-Off milestone as the series reaches its 20th compilation-based instalment and with it, Eurogamer is happy to reveal that its coverage has evolved once more. Our comparison features have traditionally been rich with video and screenshot-based assets that are the best they can be possibly be, but with the arrival of this landmark, the brand new Eurogamer HD video player comes into play, giving you the choice of watching either the cropped 1:1 pixel-mapped embedded video streams, or else a higher-quality 720p presentation.
Just click the HD button where appropriate to get the full picture. It's worth pointing out that the default setting for the HD player is 960x540, with the 720p encoding scaled down to fit the window. To bypass this resizing, hit the full-screen button at the bottom of the screen. CPU-rending h264 encoding techniques, combined with running the full 60Hz output of each console at 50 per cent speed, allows us to retain enough quality to make the comparison videos actually work, and now you get to see the full picture. Every frame, every pixel. Nice.
Onto the games then - a six-strong line-up of the most recent high-profile releases. All killer, no filler!
Ivan Petrovich Pavlov and Ray Parker Jr. have more in common than you might think. True, one is a Nobel prize-winning Soviet physiologist and psychologist, while the other is an African-American singer-songwriter whose albums include Sex and the Single Man. One is best known for authoring Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex; the other produced Sweat (Till You Get Wet). Pavlov has never been openly accused of nicking ideas off Huey Lewis, and Ray Parker Jr. has never had a ballerina or a pudding named after him.
But they both based their most famous work around one simple principle: you can create reactions in individuals by teaching them to associate specific stimuli with certain experiences. Pavlov discovered he could ring a bell to herald Winalot time and his doggies would start slobbering. Parker Jr. learned he could make people excited and happy just by getting a computer to go, "Nerny ner-ner ner-ner, nerny-nerny ner-ner-ner."
Even now, 25 years on, it's impossible for anyone over 30 to hear the nerny-ners without feeling nostalgic. Terminal Reality, the studio behind Ghostbusters: The Videogame, knows this, as does Vivendi / Activision / Atari / Sony / Oxford University Press or whoever is publishing it by the time you read this. They understand the power of memory, which is why the theme song features heavily in the trailers and throughout the game. It also explains why the opening cut-scene begins with the classic 1980s Columbia Pictures ident. Ahh, everything's going to be all right. Count Duckula pasta shapes on Mighty White for tea, washed down with a can of Quatro, let's hope the Soviets don't unleash global nuclear holocaust before Terrahawks starts.
Aren't you glad you're not in charge of developing the new Ghostbusters game? (Unless you are, in which case: Hi, and Good Luck.) Imagine the pressure of producing the tie-in for such an iconic movie. Everything from the theme tune to the one-liners to the cast to the car is fondly remembered by millions. Get it wrong, and the entire internet will accuse you of curling one out in the mouth of its childhood. But that's nothing when your biggest potential critic is the Hollywood megastar who thought up the whole thing in the first place.
Everything was better in the eighties. Back then it was socially acceptable to like pop music, wear red leather and smoke. It was a jollier, gentler time, and the only thing you had to worry about was the perpetual threat of global nuclear holocaust.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... good Wii version?
It's said that Activision Blizzard passed on Ghostbusters - as it was rummaging through the contents of Sierra's drawers, post-merger - because it didn't see the potential to develop this vintage, one-off film licence into an annual series, the way it can with, say, James Bond. It's probably for the best: the callous super-spy and the wise-cracking paranormal investigators are very different kinds of icons.
Atari has told Eurogamer that Ghostbusters: The Videogame will be released in Europe on 19th June.
It'll coincide with the release of the first Ghostbusters movie on Blu-ray, and the series' 25th anniversary.
The Ghostbusters game was originally down to be published by Sierra, before it was swallowed up and spat out by the Activision-Blizzard merger and snapped up by Atari. It's in development for PC, PS2, PS3, DS, Wii and Xbox 360, and a spokesperson confirmed all versions will be released simultaneously.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Hollywood film in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a videogame tie-in. And it is a truth universally acknowledged that all videogame tie-ins are rubbish. Yes yes GoldenEye and Chronicles of Riddick. That's two and they came out several hundred years ago. Thousands more have been released since and they've all been less fun than eating gravel.