Ghostbusters on DS - The Return of Bill Murray

The DS version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is the only place you'll see Bill Murray's character, Peter Venkman, in this new generation of ghostbusting games.

That would be largely because there's no voice talent involved with the DS title; but that doesn't mean developer Red Fly has skimped on the quirky humour that makes Ghostbusters what it is. Most of the witty banter takes place in quest text and some scattered character dialogue - and the characteristics of our beloved Ghostbusters play a role in the game with everything from weapon-building to special actions. So Peter's demeanour translates into a trait called "Rescue Hero," which allows him to talk to people and get them to follow him. If anything, the biting wit that can only be achieved with Harold Ramis's drawl is replaced with good hearty cheesiness.

The DS version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game is made up of three main parts: Management (upgrading character skills, researching technology, making weapons, etc.), Driving the Echo-1 around town and - duh - Busting, which is basically questing. There's the main quest which is modeled after the plot of the console versions of Ghostbusters (minus the Rookie character), and a series of side quests that help the Ghostbusters earn cash to afford weapon and technology upgrades. Questing also builds up the Reputation score - if this score drops to zero, it's game over.

It's still early days for the DS title yet, so what I saw of the game wasn't exactly smooth sailing. The game looks like any top-down shooter (ugh - bad Alien Syndrome flashbacks...), but the character and level designs were distinct enough at this early stage to recognise the Echo-1 parked in the driveway of the abandoned fire station that is Ghostbuster's HQ. Gameplay involves switching back and forth between all four Ghostbusters on the team, making use of their unique character traits and specific abilities to accomplish level goals.

For my all-too-brief hands-on, I got to navigate the team from HQ to the Library. First I climbed in the Echo-1 and tried to navigate my way through town with the D-pad and face buttons. This brought back bad memories of Crazy Taxi, what with road blocks not being mapped on the HUD and no real idea of how to get where I wanted to go. Once I got to my destination, a button tap had all four Ghostbusters out and ready to take commands from the stylus. I could cycle between characters with the shoulder buttons.

And then everything kind of went to crap when Winston got stuck outside the Library while the rest of the team went in. I'm not sure if there will be any rubber-banding with the four characters to keep this kind of thing from happening; like I said, it's early days yet. The dev took the DS back from me to trying and unstuck Winston; but by then I was out of time and had to move on to the next game at the Atari showcase.

In theory, Ghostbusters: The Video Game on DS will be out in June with the console releases - but there's no official word on this yet. And no screens, either - so use your imagination if you want to know what Bill Murray looks like in DS sprite form.


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