Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime, developed by Wanaka Studios, is a twin-stick shooter which casts you as a new recruit to the Ghostbusters team, the original ’busters having delegated their duties to you in the hope of earning some well-deserved rest.
Along with three other team members (controlled either by other players or the computer AI) you must traverse the streets of New York busting any ghosts in sight. Locations familiar to fans of the films include the Sedgewick Hotel, filthy sewers, and of course the mean streets of New York City.
When the title screen came up and the classic theme tune began to blare out, I sat and listened to the whole thing, building up anticipation as memories of making homemade proton packs and classic Bill Murray one-liners came flooding back. Turns out these memories were the most enjoyable part of this game.
You and your fellow rookies are equipped with three types of proton beams, colour-coded to be used on enemies of an appropriate tint. Switching between these to dispatch various ghosts, you fight your way through each level until you come across the boss, who must be trapped when they reach a certain weakness. The trapping is done by following a sequence of button presses which must be hammered frantically before the ghost breaks free of your comrades’ beams. Once you have the malevolent ghost trapped, you move on to the next level.
The plot is portrayed in comic book scenes, which seems like a good idea until you try and actually read the text in the speech bubbles, which is frequently so tiny you need to stick your face right up to the screen to read it. Disappointingly, none of the voice actors return from Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and several of the correct sound effects appear to have gone missing as well. Graphically, it’s nothing special either – in fact, Luigi’s Mansion on the Gamecube was far more appealing both to look at and play, and that was a Gamecube launch title ten years ago.
The actual gameplay is very simple: shoot and run, die, shoot and run, die, die, revive teammate, die trying, game over. For some reason the developers have made a difficulty curve so steep you need crampons and a mountaineer’s mentality to take the game on. Two hits from any enemy will wipe you out and your teammates must survive long enough to revive you.
If all four Ghostbusters are out at once, game over. You start from the last room you cleared of paranormal activity, but it’s not much help as you will inevitably perish many times before cracking some of the game’s more frustrating enemies.
Slimer makes token appearances, stripped of all his usual charisma and acting as a mere distraction from the glut of identikit bad guys. In an attempt to offer some replay value, as you swear and curse your way through fiendishly difficult levels, Stay Puft toys are hidden around the game and can be found by breaking various bits of scenery and furniture. They merely offer a reminder of the crass commercialism of this title — milking a licence without a thought for the consumer of the end product.
Perhaps most disappointing is the ability to freely cross your glowing proton beams without care or comeuppance – as everyone who has ever seen the films will know, this is in blatant denial of one of the franchise’s most famous lines, and just about sums up this title: badly researched, and far from the fun-loving spirit of the original films. I’d rather take a ladder into my dusty loft, dig out my rotting Spectrum and fire up the tape machine for a blast of the 1984 original.
I’m reminded of another classic line from the film: “Someone blows their nose, and you want to keep it?”