Ghostbusters, the original C64 game by David Crane, was one of those games dear to me back in... well, far too many years ago. When Ghostbusters: The Video Game - a proper follow-up game to the movies - was announced to be in the works for PC and the consoles, I really hoped it would turn out to be more than just licensed trash. Well, it is finally here and... well, first of all - I have good news and I have bad news on the PC version.
The bad 22ca news? Ghostbusters: The Video Game on the PC is a conversion of a game designed for the consoles with the separately developed multiplayer component stripped out to save development effort.
The good news? The rest of the game has been ported very well and in every other way the PC version is the superior version and is adapted well for a keyboard and a mouse. It is also priced to take the lack of multiplayer into account - MSRP is just $30 when the console editions are priced at $60. That is, if you happen to live in North America. Otherwise Atari doesn't want to sell you the game just yet. Huh? Well, it is a long story...
How to Fail at Game Publishing 101
The new Ghostbusters game endured a somewhat painful road to the market. Originally developed for Activision under the Sierra label and scheduled for late 2008 release, the game got tossed aside in the massive Blizzard-Activision merger. Apparently the new Blizzard-enhanced Activision didn't want to publish games that were not obvious sources of endless revenue through sequels. That's what you get when you let the guys with the suits decide these things.
In any case, Ghostbusters: The Video Game ended up as a game without a publisher and the release got pushed back. Less squeamish about the fact that you probably couldn't milk five sequels out of the game, Atari snapped up the almost-completed game and... pushed it back even more. Everything seemed set for a multiplatform release in July when Atari made two unexpected moves just weeks before the launch. Ghostbusters would be a timed exclusive on the PS2 and the PS3 in Europe and the whole European operations of Atari would be sold to Namco Bandai and reformed under a new name, "Distribution Partners". Atari is still going to release the other versions through Distribution Partners in Europe later in the autumn, but for now Sony would have the EU.
So no boxes for Europe? Who cares about boxes on the PC. Except Atari, it seems. They made sure that no digital download service would sell the PC edition outside the US. At least both the Xbox 360 version (no region lockout) and the PC version are easy enough to import from the US as physical copies, even if one has to suffer the delays caused by shipping. Epic fail doesn't quite cover the European non-launch of the game on non-Sony platforms but I guess Atari was in a pretty big financial trouble and Sony probably paid good money for the timed exclusivity in Europe.
All this probably wouldn't matter if the game was just another crappy licensed movie tie-in, but that is not exactly the case here. Ghostbusters is a classic and the new game continues the story of the movies with an all-new storyline written by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, with main cast members returning to provide voices for the characters. In other words, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a lot better than you might expect.
Games: Ghostbusters: The Video Game
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