The long-awaited Ghostbusters-ified answer to Pokemon GO, Ghostbusters World (Free), has finally launched on both iOS and Android today. Well, actually it became available in the wee hours of the morning yesterday but for some reason the game was in maintenance mode for most of the day afterwards. So if you had pre-ordered the game and received an alert that it was out and excitedly rushed off to download the game, well, you were met with disappointment. Not a great first impression, Ghostbusters World. The bright side is that with those issues now sorted I’ve had a chance to check out the game and am actually really impressed with how enjoyable it is.
Now, I have to clarify that aside from that glorious month or so when Pokemon GO hit peak popularity in the summer of 2016 and you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing dozens of people playing the game all over, I don’t really play Pokemon GO. Like, at all. So while I certainly thought Ghostbusters was a perfect fit for the Pokemon GO formula, I wasn’t exactly chomping my fingernails off waiting for the game’s release. And perhaps it’s that lack of expectations that has led me to have such a surprisingly fun time with Ghostbusters World, but whatever the case this is just a really nice fit for adventuring out in the world and capturing ghosts in augmented reality.
You’re presented with a big overworld map based on real-world data that’ll be extremely familiar looking to Pokemon GO players. An eclectic cast of ghosts will be roaming around the map (gotta bust ’em all!) and tapping on one will send you into battle. This can be done through your device’s camera lens in AR or you can shut that off and battle a ghost in front of a pre-rendered background, which is a nice option as I generally loathe AR stuff. You’ll zap the ghost with that iconic beam of energy from your proton pack until their health dips below a certain threshold, and at that point you can toss out a ghost trap.
Just as in the movies (and cartoons and games and all that) the trap will open up in a wedge of light and you’ll have to keep your energy beam trained on that ghost and wrangle them into the light wedge for a few seconds before the trap can fully, well, trap them. Ghosts can fight back by disappearing and reappearing in another spot which can trip up your energy beam aiming and they also each have their own unique type of attack which must be quickly countered by hitting a button on the screen.
So again, most of this is familiar ground for Pokemon GO players, but something just feels very satisfying about how you capture ghosts in Ghostbusters World, and personally I think it’s a whole lot more fun than catching monsters in GO. Various types of gadgets and power-ups add variety to the ghost capturing fun and everything just feels very appropriately Ghostbusters. It really seems they did this IP justice in terms of fan service and making the game feel authentic. Most of the same types of monetization systems you’d find in Pokemon GO are in Ghostbusters World as well, which means you’ll be waiting through timers to research new equipment or locations and things like that, or you can speed things up with premium currency. Pretty standard stuff by now.
Will Ghostbusters World become a worldwide sensation like Pokemon GO did two years ago? I’m not sure, but compared to the many who have come in the wake of Pokemon GO trying to ride its coattails to success, I feel like the brand recognition of Ghostbusters and the mechanics of capturing ghosts have a better shot than most in becoming another sensation. Time will tell but if you are a Ghostbusters nut or a Pokemon GO nut looking for a fresh take on the formula there’s no reason not to take Ghostbusters World for a spin for free to see what it’s all about, and be sure to drop by our forums for some discussion about it.