Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ghosts: Busted

Just finished Ghostbusters: The Video Game today on the Wii. How was it? Terrific.

Normally I like the stylized, cartoony designs that show up on underpowered Nintendo ports. I thought the goofy look of Windwaker suited the game nicely, much better than Twilight Princess' hideous attempt at fantasy realism.

In this case, though, I did eye the graphics of the PS3 and 360 Ghostbusters games with envy. Despite its precarious perch on the ledge of the uncanny valley, the attempt at photorealism does help the game to feel like it takes place in the universe of the movies.

That said, once you are playing the game, you never give it a thought. And I doubt the slicker versions can match the fun factor of the Wii's control scheme. The nunchuck/Wiimote combo is in top form, immersing you in the gameplay while never feeling gimmicky. Smashing the ghosts around by waving the Wiimote is perfect (although it might have been better with less delay between real-life and onscreen movement, but whatever).

The Wii version stands on its own and never feels like a hobbled version of a better game. If you go and actually compare it to the other versions, you'll find the levels can be very different, and some (like an extended outdoor Times Square battle) have been omitted. Some things, like exposition about a Super Slammer weapon, have no purpose in the Wii version, where you never use the Super Slammer (a mega-trap on the roof of Ecto-1). But basically, the story still works and is always fun.

The difficulty is exactly right. There is a nice hit system where your energy builds back up if you don't get hit for a while, and fellow busters can revive each other providing they're around and not dead too. All this means you don't die that often, and when you do, you're usually started at a reasonable point not too far from where it happened. There's still enough challenge to keep it interesting, without all the failure and repetition that makes me frustrated and bored and keeps me from finishing most games. Combined with the voice work and decent story, it easily makes for what's easly the best movie-to-game conversion ever (admittedly a low bar to clear, but still).

I guess more hardcore gamers complain when a game is too short and easy, but I like when I can play through a game and enjoy it without investing over forty hours of time. I feel like I got my money's worth, much more than when I have to give up on a game and never come back to it after finishing 5% of it.