For fans of the franchise, the original Ghostbusters: The Video Game was a chance to catch ghosts alongside the four original movie Ghostbusters in a fun third-person romp, and the recently released Remastered version offers the same ride on modern consoles. We thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with the guys again on Switch, although we had trouble finding anything beyond a resolution boost to warrant its 'Remastered' addendum.
In conversation with Venture Beat, Matt McKnight from Saber Interactive has shed some light on the challenges the studio encountered in trying to bring the game back on modern consoles. It seems that much of the work in this remaster involved securing rights, cutting through red tap and tracking down original assets.
It turns out McKnight and the original game's producer, John Melchior, are friends and that provided a partial impetus to set about bringing the game back. Sony, the owners of the franchise, were quick to agree, but Saber also had to get permission from the publishing rights holder Atari (who own the code) as well as the rights to use the Infernal Engine, the original game engine that belonged to the now-defunct Terminal Reality. According to McKnight, it was hardly a cake walk:
After the romance of it — ‘I get to redo Ghostbusters, I got it, Sony has agreed to give us the rights!’ — then come the problems.
After securing the necessary permissions, Saber then had to track down ex-Terminal Reality employees in the hope someone had kept the source art for the cutscenes - apparently neither Sony or Atari had done. McKnight continues:
We were kind of on our own. But I was able to track down one of the lead animators from the original game. He told me that he might have the source art on a hard drive in storage. He was like, ‘Gimme a couple days.’ So he went to his storage, plugged the drive into his computer, booted it up, and the source art was there. We were able to remaster it in 4K.
Regarding the missing multiplayer component, that was originally created by a separate company using code from an early version of the game. Saber reportedly found six different copies of possible code, but couldn't work out which had been used in the shipped game. Apparently Saber is 'still in the process of evaluating the situation', but it has no concrete plans regarding reinstating the modes at the moment (we imagine that will depend on sales).
Finally, McKnight went into some detail regarding what Saber did add to the game from a technical perspective, something we were intrigued to discover after finding little in the new version that didn't correspond with our memories of the PC version:
We didn’t touch the gameplay. We left it as-is. It was more about making as many visual improvements as we could with the time we had. So lighting, shadows, hair — those were the types of things that became the focus of it, as well as just getting the game up and running.
It's certainly a bare-bones port, as we said in our review, but despite the disappointment of the missing multiplayer component, it's very solid and the single-player narrative is more than worth playing through again on Switch. Let's hope that Saber has the time and inclination to revive the co-op gameplay (and perhaps add some optional gyro controls) in a patch. Bustin' is always better with two.