Hi. My name is Claire. I’m big on Ghostbusters.
Back in 2009 noise was made that the video game Ghostbusters: The Video Game was going to be “essentially the third movie.” I didn’t pay a lot of attention because “essentially” is a funny word, you know? It means it is and it isn’t. It’s liminal. And video game didn’t seem a very likely format for the Ghostbusters formula — so if it was and wasn’t a new, third film, I’d just choose to go with wasn’t.
Boy, I was smart in 2009.
But it’s 2016 and I lost my head. I looked at the trap, Ray. And it went worse for me than it went for Egon.
Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis are actually credited as the writers of this game’s script, as the credits roll. I hope that’s some kind of big lie. Because here: ten reasons why I had a very bad time, with Ghostbusters 3/The Video Game.
10: You don’t get to drive the car.
The Ghostbusters car is dangerous and a stupid vehicle. It is top heavy and very old; it’s covered with heavy equipment and “New York traffic” is a meme. This car is also very delightful. The Ecto-1 rounding a corner way too fast and nearly tipping over is the most tactile, physically empathetic experience of either film (with a tip of the hat to Dana’s bathtub, in Ghostbusters 2). And you don’t get to borrow it! Games are about doing, and driving the car is something you are not allowed to do. Do you want to? Of course you’d want to. That car is cool. Beautiful shape, beautiful paint, and a huge part of the Ghostbusters experience. Every iteration, live action or cartoon, values and centres the having of that specific car. LET ME DRIVE IT.
9: You don’t get to be one of the ghostbusters; you’re trapped in some anonymous putz.
What did the Ghostbusters really need? To proportionally reduce black representation by inserting a pasty rando as their new, fifth member? That’s right!! Yes! More average white men in the Ghostbusters! That’s how I feel about me; I feel like if I joined the Ghostbusters, I’d really like to do it as a nondescript, normative, unexcited male. Maybe he could be a bit worried, to really make me feel fun. I’d especially like to do this without even a name to call myself — I want the Ghostbusters to find me as dull and unworthy of respect as I apparently find myself. Cut my hair and call me Rookie. Push me into a locker, senpai venkman~!
8: Green slime
This really burns my biscuits. It should probably be higher than eight on this list. What, is with, the green, slime? The Ghostbusters use this slime. They shoot it. They project it at their ghostly enemies. And why??
Well, Ghostbusters featured a lot of slime. Clear slime, called ectoplasm, in the library and in Dana/Zuul’s apartment. Loads of it, dripping everywhere.
There was a little green slime left on the wall and on Venkman after both collided with “green ghost/onionhead,” not yet known as Slimer.
Now, in Ghostbusters 2, that’s where slime REALLY came into play. Slime aplenty! Slime galore! Slime being used by the Ghostbusters — analysed, altered, packed into projectile guns and used to bring Lady Liberty to life. Winston was washed away in a river of slime, Ray ends the film doused in it. Sure, the Ghostbusters, they use slime.
They use p–
Im sorry, I’m having trouble. It’s just too traumatic. I am a butch and manly Ghostbusters, and I find it hard to say p-HLORRRKKKK [she vomits up her entire intestinal tract] pink slime.
[wiping her mouth] Phew. Gross. Okay. Glad they changed that actually. Pink Is For Girls.
7: The Ghostbusters go to a spooky graveyard
Did the people who designed this game, like, “get” the Ghostbusters? I feel that they did not.
Think about the environments we see in Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2. University, library, busy streets, firehouse, hotel, prison, mayor’s office, apartment building, tavern on the green, townhouse, TV set, Bookshop, laboratory, museum, train tracks, courthouse. Statue of Liberty. The Ghostbusters are not spooky gothic spiritualists, friends. They are men who work to keep lived-in spaces basically secure. If a scene in Ghostbusters takes place at night, it takes place somewhere brightly lit. For all I know through watching these films, New York doesn’t even HAVE any graveyards, you know? The closest to a classic horror environment Ghostbusters get is the asylum the mayor’s aide sends them to after they’re arrested in Ghostbusters 2. There are no shots of other inmates, no aesthetic gothica. Because that’s not what Ghostbusters… are about.
Thats the joke, right? It’s funny because they make the supernatural hyperpractical. You murdered the comedy…
6: Egon is Doctor Strange now?
I’m upset about this and can’t talk about it. There’s like, dimensional libraries, and fucking… demonic beurocracy. Goddddd.
5: The Ghostbusters don’t like each other
Egon says “shut up” to Ray, whilst Ray is excited about a cool ghost, in this game. He says it like he hates him and wants him to die. I hate it, and I want to die.
4: It doesn’t look like 1991
Why do the video game people do this? If you define the year in which your game is set. You have to make the game. Look like it takes place in that year. You know a really reliable way to do that? It’s through costuming! You know what these guys always include? A “hot lady.” You know what these hot ladies never look like? Like they’re definitely wearing (& groomed) what they’d be wearing (& groomed) in that year. It is a trial and a bother. You have to over do this thing. You have to define silhouette, and hair, and really, you can’t just try to pass for 1991. Make us say “oh! 1991!” Ilyssa could be Jackie Burkhart in 197X, or Phoebe in Charmed in 1998-2006. Especially Phoebe, as she seems to be wearing a sweater under a button-up, which is bizarre (all clothes on Charmed were bizarre). If people did that in 1991, it was clearly something they tried to cover up.
3: It’s full of mistakes
Look. I don’t wanna go full nerd and I don’t wanna bore you. Here is just one example:
If you watched the film “Ghostbusters 2,” to which this game professes to be a direct sequel, you may recall that the evil portrait of Vigo is destroyed and/or magically transformed into a picture of the Ghostbusters, in togas, with Oscar. You may also recall that said painting belonged to an exhibit at the museum. And that it was valuable, and rare. All of these facts point to one thing, which is: this portrait of Vigo should not, indeed could not, be propped on the floor of the garage area of the firehouse by the year 1991.
AND YET IT IS.
Why do I want a “third film” that is drunk and has forgotten it’s trousers? I don’t. I don’t want that, at all.
2: You’re expected to believe that Bill Murray is a babe magnet
From the perspective of someone who is a lady, frankly Ghostbusters‘ romantic subplot is only acceptable because Ghostbusters 2 tells the truth about it: that it was hasty bullshit, and they wouldn’t have lasted. Venkman is a terrible romantic lead and his come-ons to Dana are inappropriate; her opening to his overtures flies for one reason and one reason only: Sigourney Weaver is a talented actress who can project subtlety when it doesn’t exist in a script. Her performance in Ghostbusters‘ “Bill Murray wears prison orange for no reason and they make a date for Thursday at eight” scene is nuanced and lovely and human — Ghostbusters 3′s Ilyssa cannot compete. Ilyssa is a digital doll who bends at strange angles, panicky and alarming, while Alyssa Milano (never of the gentlest tones, let’s be real) does a weird voice. These characters share minimal, abrasive scenes together, until the NOW DEY LIKE EACH UVVA switch is pressed and the game ends with a kiss outta nowhere.
Look. I accept that some people in this world want to fuck Bill Murray. Even if it’s Bill Murray as a really mean bully with no sense of occasion and a tiresome motormouth. But every civilian woman? Like just any ol’ woman who happened to be picked on by Pete Venkman would be like “slap me on the mush with that vindictive little pucker”? Like his interaction with Dana isn’t actually remarkable at all, but a Female Urge for her due to his inescapable magnetism? No! No! No! Fuck off!!!!
1: There is no Dana
I ain’t joking around here with funny reference lines. Dana isn’t in this game, and it’s ridiculous. Do you know why she isn’t? Because Weaver didn’t come around to lending her voice to video games until pretty late in the industry timeline. She wasn’t on board early in this game’s production — so they didn’t give her any lines. Reasonable, right? Seems ok.
No– she wasn’t on board early in production, so they excised her character from the story-line entirely. Not reasonable. Not at all “good.” And not blamable on Sigourney Weaver, at all.
Dana is as integral to the Ghostbusters films (which, remember, this is “essentially” another one of) as anyone. She’s necessary both times around; her romantic arcs are absolutely vital to the property. Her having left Venkman because he was a bad boyfriend is… I can’t overstate the importance of that, to the life of this cast. Peter Venkman is a horrid person with bad behaviour, and Dana’s rejection of the negative sides of his nature — his choice to actually respond to that challenge and become a better person — is what’s saves the whole fuckin’ show. Venkman begins Ghostbusters abusing students, and ends Ghostbusters 2 having purposefully taken torture in order to be a good dad to somebody else’s baby. When Dana, his ex, turns up at his apartment with a naked screaming baby that she had with his replacement, he ties the baby up in a sports legend’s jersey, so that it’s warm, and has somewhere to pee. Between two films — having been treated honestly by this particular lady — he learns how to treat a partner with respect, and changes his behaviour to match that knowledge. This is a Vegeta-level redemption arc in an everyday format, and it works! It’s aspirational! It’s great entertainment! And you flushed it… because of petty voice role concerns. Ooh, I’m judging you~
The absence of Dana and the absence of Oscar take Venkman back to his worst excesses (and make room for the heinous romance plot listed in point nine). They disrespect a character who, in both prior films, connected the Ghostbusters to their climax, their mission, their flipping reason for being. They take out the only active woman in the Ghostbusters film cast (Janine is a sit-down gal). It’s a bad thing, for a bad reason, with a bad result.
Know what though? The worst thing of all, a failure that didn’t make me say NO but stood in tragic absence: I didn’t laugh once, and neither did my sofa companion. Not once. It was not funny.
We could argue about changing demands for comedy and changing definitions of “a comedy film,” but Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters 2 star comedy greats and featured great comedic scriptwriting. They are funny. I said I was big on Ghostbusters — I’ve watched Ghostbusters 2 five times this month (it’s a Christmas movie, don’t ride me) and I have laughed, every time. Every single time I watched the same film, I laughed out loud. The last time I was doing my taxes. That’s god’s honest truth. Ghostbusters 2 made me laugh out loud while I was doing my taxes. To fail to follow that standard with even one guffaw? That’s just a shame. It’s not like video games are unfunny; I’ve laughed playing Mario. I’ve laughed playing Metal Gear. Sad soldiers made me laugh more than comedy millionaires!
There are problems with the gameplay and problems with the graphics (the proton streams look good but they don’t look outlandish enough compared to the digital “everything else,” for example), but I don’t really associate video games with carefree fun. I think of them as annoying, hard things that bother me, which I play anyway for some compulsive reason and for the gratifying “good bits.” I can deal with the Ghostbusters re-fighting Stay Puft Gozer for interminably long stretches, if it means I get to listen to Spirit and enjoy Good Dad Venkman being excited about Oscar’s development curve and lasso a ghost and drive the Ecto-1.
But I get almost none of those things. So I say, nooo…