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I guess I just like liking things


The nightmare begins
(click on image to buy this on a T-shirt at Threadless)

It’s probably Pac-Man’s fault. I was John Rambo, minding my own business in the maze-town, chomping on pellets, when these four ghost-cops start chasing me all over. “We don’t want your kind here” is what they would have been yelling if the arcade machines of the day had voice capabilities. I just wanted to be left alone, but they hunted me and chipped away at me, one life at a time. They drew first blood, not me. But when the power pellets gave me the opportunity, you bet your face I was gonna pay them back for as long as I could. They didn’t know me, they didn’t know my life.  In the end, though, the ghosts always won. They were too fast, too powerful.

Then, in 1984, everything changed. Venkman, Stantz, Spengler, and Zeddmore showed us there was hope in the form of proton packs and containment units. We had a way to fight back and I was all for it. As usual, the politicians messed everything up for a while, but when ghosts need bustin’, Ghostbusters get called.

I didn’t realize my insatiable need to bust ghosts until just recently. I mean, I was all for it, sure, but didn’t realize just how much.

Just about four years ago, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released. Many of the original actors voiced their characters in the game, and it tied aspects of both movies together and brought in new elements. Dan Ackroyd himself said “This is essentially the third movie,” and I have to agree. While I may have had issues with the gameplay here and there, the story and the writing were both fantastic. If you’re a fan of the movies, you need to play this game for the story elements alone.

Two years later (apparently March is Ghostbusters Month? I’d agree with Congress making that official), Ghostbusters: Sanctum of Slime was released. I downloaded the demo at the time, but it wasn’t really my thing, so I didn’t buy the game. Something changed for me a couple of months ago (I’ll get to what shortly), though, and I bought it. This one’s more arcade-y, with Robotron-type controls, where the left joystick controls movement and the right joystick aiming particle beams. Janosz Poha (from Ghostbusters II) starts of the mayhem, and the Ghostbusters team hires new people (that’s you!) to go out and fight the new menace. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very good at this game, so I’m sort of stuck about two-thirds of the way through it. I’m hoping I’ll eventually bust all of the ghosts, but as Pac-Man taught us, sometimes the protagonist doesn’t win.

Earlier this year (ruining the March theme), Ghostbusters was released for iOS. While Venkman et al. do show up (in cartoony form), the bulk of the work rests on new characters… unless you buy the original Busters. It’s a freemium game, and you can play it without spending any actual money on it, but if you want the coolest stuff (like the original Busters), it’ll cost you. The plot of this game has the Busters climbing a tower (each new floor is a new level) to find out who they are after, but we know it’s the weird-looking kid Venkman was doing testing on in the first movie.  He’s angry and has powers now.  New floors are being opened in regular updates, and I’m at the highest level right now, so I can’t tell you where it’ll go from here.  My absolute favorite part of the game is when the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man shows up and you get to fight him. His presence is explained by some technobabble, and you have to fight and beat him ten times to win special gear. Once you beat him, he goes away for an hour, and I generally set a timer so I don’t miss his return.

So up to this point you might think, “Well, he’s just a fan of the brand” and you might be right except for The Sims Freeplay. Sims can have different hobbies: swimming, fishing, fashion design, karate, dancing, or ghostbusting.  Yeah, weird mix. By buying haunted items and placing them in the Simhouses, Sims have the option to hunt for ghosts. Once they’ve searched long enough, a ghost appears and you can capture it by tapping it three times. Once you’ve captured all twelve unique ghosts, you unlock a ghost containment unit, though for some reason this glitched on me and I didn’t get mine. (Fun sidenote: the highest level of Sims ghostbusting is named “Peter Venksim.”) The difference here is that the Ghostbusters games are designed specifically around the idea of ghost being busted. If you don’t have that, you don’t have Ghostbusters, plain and simple. In The Sims, you can go the whole time without even knowing that there’s ghosts in the game if you aren’t paying attention. Not only do you specifically have to buy haunted items and place them in the house, you then have to make your Sim actively seek out ghosts and then actively tap on the ghosts to capture them. It’s kind of a lot of effort to go through to bust ghosts, but I apparently have something against ghosts enough that I not only decided to level up my ghost-busting enough to earn that not-gotten containment unit, I’m also considering leveling up another Sim to try to actually get it this time.

So I guess I hate ghosts. I had no idea, but the evidence is piling up into one impossible-to-ignore gigantic Twinkie.

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