Did you know the iconic ghost in the Ghostbusters symbol has a name?
Even as a fan of the franchise since the get-go, I had no idea the friendly-ish specter had a name until I visited Ghost Corps HQ on the Sony lot in Los Angeles to get the lowdown on Ghostbusters World, the new mobile, map-based AR game (and much more) for serious and casual gamers alike, as long as you ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
I found out earlier this month, while taking a look at the pre-launch version of the game, which represents the last phase of development version of the many-faceted (Sony Pictures Consumer Products, Ghost Corps, publisher FourThirtyThree Inc., and developer Next Age) team’s ghost hunting/fighting/capturing game. Eric Reich, brand executive at Ghost Corps, dropped the big news, like it wasn't some 34-year-old secret.
“That’s actually the name that Ivan [Reitman] and Dan [Aykroyd] came up with on set when they were shooting the movie, they secretly called him Mooglie,” he explained, blowing my mind.
That’s the kind of deep Ghostbusters lore you can expect to encounter when playing the upcoming game, set to launch late this year. But while Mooglie may be the most iconic (or not) of the franchise’s apparitions, there are plenty more ghosts where that comes from.
“When we were looking at all the ghosts, we were trying to tap into the entire universe of Ghostbusters, so we found sort of fan-favorite ghosts like in magazines back in the day, from The Real Ghostbusters, from Extreme Ghostbusters, from the movies of course, from the comic books,” says Reich. “So any fan of the brand that has been following Ghostbusters for a while can pick out cool ghosts that they’ve had either from their childhood, or seen in magazines, or all sorts of different places.”
Sure, that’s a lot of ghosts to contend with, all of whom like to attack in a variety of odious ways, but you’re well-armed, with all the latest (and earliest) ghost-wrangling tech, powered by the proton pack and particle thrower of your choice, which are also culled from the depths of the franchise.
The game preview event was held at L.A.’s version of the iconic Firehouse, Hook & Ladder Company 8 building, with a couple of classic Ghostbusting mobiles parked out front and Mooglie looking down upon us. The game’s location-based capture mode is best played outside. “It actually looks incredible, it looks as though the ghost is floating around in your environment,” says Matt Suser, senior manager at Sony Pictures, while pointing out that you can even see a ghost’s shadow exactly where the sun would put it, thanks to all the latest tech the game employs, including Google Maps API, Google’s ARCore, and Apple’s ARKit.
In my demonstration, I immediately encountered Gus the plumbing ghost in the wild. After blasting him with a variety of weapons, I weakened him enough to throw out a capture stream, drag him over a well-sprung trap, and bust a charged particle streaming cap all up in that ghost!
Though I’m warned he could still potentially escape, now that I have Gus in my collection, I can train him to fight alongside me and three more of my captives. My ghost team can throw down with ghosts on other teams or battle our way through the in-depth story mode.
“There’s a full RPG system in there with a lot of stats, but also you can level up your ghosts, and they have unique skills as well,” says Andrew Krensky, video game production consultant at Sony Pictures, while recounting my fight with Gus and the “spectral water” he spewed my way. “Each of the ghosts has a couple of those unique animations that they do.”
Though all the Ghostbusting branches of the franchise get satisfyingly climbed in the game, that’s particularly true of the IDW comic books, which contribute heavily to the game’s story and aesthetic, as much of the writing and artwork are done by the comic books team.
“One thing that we made sure of: Tobin’s Spirit Guide, which is big in the movie, obviously,” says Reich. “You can learn more about the ghosts. Each ghost has a description that was written by Erik Burnham, who’s the writer on our comic strip series, so there are really cool elements for super fans to kind of learn more about the ghosts.”
Burnham wrote the story mode as well, which starts out as a tutorial and then escalates into a “full-blown Ghostbusters adventure where they’re traveling into different dimensions to deal with ghosts,” says Krensky. “And so your ghost team will feature heavily in the story mode.”
“Basically, you're training your ghosts to be able to battle other players’ ghosts,” says Reich, who’s got Slimer, Gus, and the Librarian ghost on his personal ghost team, for both turn-based RPG and PvP action. “You can engage in PvP battles, and test out your guys versus someone else who’s hopefully been training as well,” says Suser.
You’ll also find out precisely why the ghosts are working for you in the first place, meet all your favorite Ghostbusters along the way (including Egon, your technical guide throughout), and get dispatches relayed to you by Janine Melnitz, the real heart and soul of the team.
And, perhaps most fun of all, if you’ve got some buddies (or friendly strangers) in close proximity, you can team up with three others to take down the big bosses in your area – like Koza'Rai (Gozer’s father), Ring Leader from the 2016 movie, and Stay Puft (who throws flaming marshmallows). “Part of Ghostbusters is the whole team aspect, and making sure that you’re working together with other people to try and take down a big boss, so we try to keep that as much as we can in the game,” says Reich. Just be careful not to cross your streams.
With complicated daily challenges, PvP elements, the in-depth story mode, and more, you can get deep into the gaming aspect of the game, or just keep it simple and casually bust ghosts around the ‘hood in the AR battle mode. Yes, there’s something supernaturally fun for everyone who’s a fan of the franchise. So keep your P.K.E. Meter in tune, because Ghostbusters World pre-registration is coming sometime this fall, with a drop date of late 2018. The game is free to download and enjoy to your slimin’ fullest, though in-game purchases can be made to enhance the haunting, if you ain’t afraid.