Next-Gen Gamers is a feature where I explore the world of gaming through the eyes of my kids – literally the next generation of gamers, raised in a house that promotes playing together and sharing our time! It’ll look at games that appeal to kids more than adults, as well as those that are great for both, either through cooperative play or controller sharing.
My son loves the Ghostbusters franchise. He’s got both movies, the DVD box set of the ’90s cartoon, and, most importantly, Ghostbusters: The Video Game for his Nintendo Wii. All of this began when he was four, and found his parents playing the game, which we’d rented for ourselves, opting for the Wii version because we thought it’d be fun to play with the Wii-remote style controls. While this version doesn’t have the graphics of it’s more-powerful-console siblings for PS3 and Xbox 360, the added elements do make for an interesting play style.
The story is roughly the same as in the “realistic” high-powered console version, but the Wii’s “stylised” version offers a decent variety of different weapons to use, each with primary and secondary firing modes, as well as a HUD for player health and Proton Pack heat levels. The campaign plays out rather differently to account for these things, and is accented by graphics far more cartoon-like than those of the other versions. Really, though, the reason we stuck with the Wii was because of the sudden interest the little one , at four years old, took on.
Now, the controls with the Wii remote are, to say it plainly, a bit clunky, and definitely take some getting used to. I think the kid and I managed to get through about three levels with my carrying the brunt of things while he wandered, blasting haphazardly at ghosts, walls, or nothing at all. Eventually, though, he did get the hang of it, and that’s when he really started enjoying not only the game, but the whole package of media surrounding it. He is a super-fan of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, in all of his forms, and can entertain himself for probably far too long replaying the levels in which the series’ most iconic enemy appears. The more we played, though, the more he became engrossed in the story, the mechanics of the various weapons, and the whole slew of creepy, spooky baddies that we took down together.
Some of the game’s puzzles and mazes were a bit much for him to try and take on alone, so we, for the most part, handled this through co-op play; he’d go back to play levels he knew he could complete alone when I didn’t feel like jumping in with him – so, the repeat level feature is really great. There were a few moments in our first go-round that did seem to put him off, and he’d claim they were scary, hiding a grinning, fascinated face behind poorly-clasped fingers. A couple of the boss fights proved too much, too, and I had to tackle these on my own, but eventually he warmed up to the challenge and I don’t think there’s a level or enemy we haven’t taken down together at this point.
The more-realistic versions of this game, I think, definitely have potential to be a bit much for the under-seven crowd, but the Wii’s cartoonishness, light-hearted dialogue, and relatively workable cooperative mode make it a great choice for parents raised on a steady flow of Proton Pack toting paranormal investigators looking to share some good, easily shared fun with the young ones. Just watch out – you may end up having to fork out for the films, cartoons, and Halloween costumes once they discover the great characters and spooky fun of the Ghostbusters.