Hello all! I’m back. Last time, I talked about one of the (supposedly) most influential games of all time, and how I didn’t “get it” at first.
Today, I grab a game that’s not at all influential. Or popular. But it’s kind of great.
Ghosthunter is a generically named title seemed destined for the bargain bin—and in fact, that’s where I found it way back when. It’s a third-person-shooter where you play as the improbably-named Lazarus Jones, a Detroit cop who, while investigating a noise report in an abandoned school, accidentally releases an army of ghosts from some machine. Kinda like what Walter Peck does in Ghostbusters, but Lazarus does it by accident, and he’s likable, so it’s a bit different.
Lazarus sets off to find his missing partner, Anna, who’s been kidnapped by a ghost, and that’s where your (somewhat brief) adventure begins. Ghosthunter is a third-person-shooter that plays similarly to Resident Evil 4, despite releasing about two years prior. Much like in RE4, you need to aim first, before shooting, and you can’t run while shooting. (BUT! You can strafe while aiming!) The basic gameplay loop consists of weakening a ghost by, um, shooting it, and then throwing the Capture Grenade at it. The Capture Grenade is a round object that attaches to a ghost and, well, captures it. Enemy ghosts are varied, but there’s not quite as much variety as you’d like.
Things are broken up by the occasional puzzle, some of which you’ll have to use Astral to complete. Astral is a spirit that’s bound to you, and who you can play as at certain segments. She can fly, but is unable to attack, her interactions mostly limited to pulling levers and hitting switches for you. They don’t really break things up too much, as the puzzles are brief and not at all complicated.
Ghosthunter isn’t the most complex game. It’s not deep, and the gameplay hasn’t aged well—it was a bit monotonous on release, thirteen years ago. It’s still fun to play, if terribly basic. I mean, you shoot ghosts, capture them, do a light puzzle, and repeat. There’s not much to it. So why write about it?
I like Ghosthunter because it’s got heart. It’s...more than what I thought I was getting when I picked it up for I think $20. What surprised me the most about Ghosthunter was how much heart it has. It’s ridiculous, it’s cheesy, it’s tropey, etc. But it fully commits to this setting, this hokey, B-movie aesthetic. And it commits so fully to it that you can’t help but love it. It doesn’t feel like it’s being silly by accident, like, say, Resident Evil feels like at times. Sure, it’s hard to take Ghosthunter all that seriously, but I don’t think you’re supposed to.
And as I’ve said many a time here, it’s always fun to kick back with a game you don’t need to take seriously or think about too hard. I love my “important” games, and emotional ones and all that. But sometimes you just wanna goof off, y’know? And Ghosthunter is a perfect example of a game like that; it’s not a Big Game, but it’s plenty entertaining and ends up being a fun romp. Light, yes, but fun.
I think games like this are great, and you shouldn’t miss them if you can. Obviously, if you had to buy this or, like, The Last of Us, then go with the latter. But once in a while, pick up a cheesy looking game for $5 or so and see what happens. Chances are, you’ll find something fun.
Thanks for reading! I have a Twitter and I like talking to people, so follow me!
Next week, I’ll look at one of the most annoyingly difficult Sega Genesis games ever made, starring sea creatures amidst a Pink Floyd-ish soundtrack.