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Review: Ghostbusters (iOS)

Sunday, January 27th, 2013 by

ghostbusters_titleBeeline, formerly Capcom Mobile, has made a lot of money off of properties from my generation. Apparently deciding that the Smurfs and Snoopy didn’t represent enough of my childhood, Beeline’s picked up the Ghostbusters license in this new free-to-play game.

Ghostbusters seems like such a simple formula to get right, but we’ve seen it done horribly throughout the years. While there are a few bright spots, particularly 2009′s Ghostbusters: The Video Game, this is a license that has not done right with the fans for decades. Would Beeline turn Ghostbusters into yet another town builder?

Breathe a sigh of relief, Ghostbusters buffs, for this is not another social game. As of a matter of fact, this may be the first Ghostbusters game that could survive without the license.

Ghostbusters starts out with Peter Venkman’s study on the effects of negative reinforcement on ESP ability scene from the movie. This sets up the villain of the game, at least in the early going, and sets the player on the path. Afterwards, you take control of a squad of no name Ghostbusters, including Egon’s half-step-niece, and are sent along your way. Your team of three must take on the ghosts wreaking havoc on the streets of New York.

Combat is simple and fun, though controls can be a bit spotty when crowded.

Combat is simple and fun, though controls can be a bit spotty when crowded.

Characters have one of three classes in the game. Wranglers, equipped with the Slime Blower from Ghostbusters II, are your basic melee tanks with high defense to soak damage. Blasters, equipped with your standard Proton Pack, are your damage dealers with high attack and range and medium defense. Finally, Scientists, equipped with a non-canon M.E.D. Gun, are your healers. I always felt like the Medigun from Team Fortress 2 resembled a Proton Pack, and now here is a Ghostbusters game using it.

In battle, your squad has to take on waves of apparitions by drawing lines from the Ghostbuster to the target. Each Ghostbuster has abilities that can be used with a cooldown. The combat plays similarly to Battleheart, so players familiar with that game will feel instantly at home. Once a ghost’s hit points are whittled down, you can send out a trap by tapping. Things can get hectic, especially as enemies fill the screen, but Ghostbusting is a lot of fun.

When you're stuck in-game, and can't get through... who you gonna call? DA Crew!

When you’re stuck in-game, and can’t get through, who you gonna call? D.A. Crew!

What isn’t fun, however, is the built-in pay walls. There are numerous instances of Beeline tinkling that tip jar. The most obvious is that you cannot get a fourth party member with regular cash until you’ve reached the sixth floor of the haunted tower. While I have no trouble beating “Hard” missions, the boss battles on Floor 4 and Floor 5 were daunting. That fourth Ghostbuster, my pick of a character from the movie, could be had for five dollars. Every time I failed, Winston was kind enough to offer me a boost in exchange for some Power Cores.

While you’re busy busting, you’ll also be able to conduct research on ghosts in Tobin’s Spirit Guide. This research unlocks new items in the shop, but it also takes time. Of course, again, you can reduce those timers using “Power Cores.” The game goes through the trouble of showing you just how to do it, too, before handing you just enough to get you hooked on expediting your research. That said, I haven’t used a Power Core outside of the tutorial, yet.

Players can choose mission difficulty with higher rewards for higher difficulties.

Players can choose mission difficulty with higher rewards for higher difficulties.

Add an energy system on top of all of that in a game where you will have to grind for enough Ectoplasm, and you can see it clearly in the design. You get 100 energy, with each regular job taking 20 energy, and you’ll get just a few minutes before the fun stops. However, the energy meter regenerates in about an hour, so it’s awfully generous compared to a lot of games in the free-to-play world.

The merit of a free-to-play game is just how much fun you can have for free. While there were definitely frustrating moments, as I was slimed time and again on a couple of the tower floors, changing up character abilities and simple resilience were enough to get me through to the next part of the game. While I cannot guarantee later stages will be so kind, I know three days in that I’m having a lot of fun with the game.

Once put into containment units, these ghosts can be researched for new shop items.

Once put into containment units, ghosts can be researched for new shop items.

Ghostbusters just oozes love for the license. The cartoon graphics look great, better than any of the animated series themselves, and get the effects right. The Ghostbusters theme, sans lyrics, is present at the menu and ambient music is taken directly from the movies. Little licensing touches are present throughout and, while the humor could use a little work in places, this just feels like Ghostbusters should. Playing Ghostbusters made me want to watch the movies again, perhaps the best measuring stick for a licensed game, and remember a time when I wished I could be a Ghostbuster.

I’m a fan of the series and admit that it’s hard to remain unbiased. However, I also know how many awful Ghostbusters games I’ve slogged through over the years. Ghostbusters is a very good game that unfortunately has all the trappings of the free-to-play world we live in, but it’s something that fans of the series will absolutely love. This may be the best Ghostbusters game to date.

4 star

 (Ghostbusters features retina display graphics, but has no GameCenter integration. The game was played up to Floor 7 without using IAP for reviewing purposes and will continue to be played over the course of the year. One mission objective, upgrading the M.E.D. Wand, appears to be bugged and would not complete. Ghostbusters version 1.0.1 was used in this review.)

About the Author

Fade to Slack is a founding member of Delta Attack, an American expatriate in South Korea, and a true believer in the legitimacy of mobile gaming. Keep up with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Fade2Slack so he can justify having a Twitter account.

Fade to Slack has written 352 posts on Delta Attack
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  • Marty Blevins

    Curious as to your reaction to the last couple of updates.

    This was my go-to time killer before the train went off the rails.

    I’m beginning to believe the franchise is cursed

    • http://www.deltaattack.com/ Fade to Slack

      I really liked it a lot until version 1.3 came out. After it did, I’ve likely played the game less than ten minutes, as I had nothing to do and wasn’t getting slime.

      After they screwed over an entire player-base, I told myself I’d never play another Beeline game again.

      As for the game itself, I wonder how it plays for people who weren’t there from version 1.0.1 like I was here. This was the first Ghostbusters game that I really enjoyed, and they just ruined it.

      Here’s hoping Ghostbusters 3 finally gets some traction going someday.