Back in 1983, Dan Aykroyd had a problem. He'd just been told by director Ivan Reitman that his half-finished screenplay Ghost Smashers was going to be too expensive to make. About $250 million too expensive. Reitman had suggested a change in direction.
Instead of setting the movie in the future and basing it on the adventures of two time- and space-travelling ghost hunters, Reitman suggested that Aykroyd replace the science-fiction heroes with a group of down-and-out New York students who decide to set up a ghost-catching business. To put it into context, this would be tantamount to someone telling George Lucas to rewrite Star Wars in communist Russia. A pretty big ask.
Undeterred, Aykroyd got in touch with respected Hollywood writer Harold Ramis and together, they set about rewriting Ghost Smashers in a more contemporary (and less budget-busting) setting. It would be this collaboration and change of direction that would give birth to 1984's second highest-grossing film and one of the most commercially successful movies of the 1980s, Ghostbusters - a flick that to this day enjoys an avid following and sends warm jets of emotion coursing through the veins of those old enough to remember the movie's original release all those years ago.
Back from the grave
Fast forward 24 years, one hit-and-miss sequel and two popular cartoon series later. We're sitting in a conference room at Dallas-based developer Terminal Reality, shuffling with nervous, childlike excitement at the prospect of taking the world's first look at the company's forthcoming third-person shooter - a game that's attempting to recapture the old magic of Ghostbusters while extending the fiction of the franchise.
"We'd wanted to do this game for a while," begins the game's creative director, Drew Haworth, whose lockjaw grin instantly betrays his passion and exuberance for the subject matter.
"We're working with Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, who are really contributing to the story. Dan and Harold have always bounced around the idea of doing something else with Ghostbusters. Once the new hardware appeared, we went to Sony Pictures, made a prototype and then took it to Dan and Harold, who coincidentally were at a stage when they were willing to discuss extending the Ghostbusters story.
"It was perfect for them," Haworth goes on. "There may or may not have been a Ghostbusters III script that they'd worked on, but they felt that in the game, they could continue the story. Dan and Harold are already talking about where they could take the next game. They're like kids at Christmas when it comes to Ghostbusters."
Indeed, the news that the original writers are set to pen the script (ensuring it remains true to the Ghostbusters fiction) and reprise their roles as Ray and Egon, will provide every sci-fi fan with a sense of comfort not felt since they found out Spock was still alive. After all, who else could capture that eclectic mix of paranormal babble, acerbic observational humour and scimitar-sharp one-liners that made the original movie such an unprecedented triumph?
The story continues
Set in 1991, Ghostbusters the game picks up the story two years after the climax of Ghostbusters II. Having saved themselves from the ignominy of becoming novelty act entertainers scraping a living from humiliating children's party appearances in the second film, the Busters once again find themselves with more work than they can handle, especially when the imminent opening of a Gozarian (Gozer was the supernatural bad guy from the first film for those of you who've not seen it) museum prompts a radical increase in paranormal activity.