As you likely have heard, there’s a brand new Ghostbusters in movie theaters, starring a brand new cast headlined by Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon, all directed by Paul Feig. The film has faced no small amount of controversy in the months and even years leading up to the release date, with some overly upset commentators taking issue with the casting, others annoyed that it’s apparently rebooting something they’d rather not see. It’s quite a lot of anger directed at one movie, especially when the general public hasn’t even seen the film, and one major complaint said over and over again is “Why couldn’t we have gotten a Ghostbusters 3 instead!?!”
Ghostbusters 3 was the white whale for many fans in the decades since Ghostbusters II had a less-than-stellar showing in theaters way back in 1989. Hardcore fans of the paranormal investigators spent the next 20 years hoping to see the core cast of Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson reunite to save New York City once more. But the actors kept getting older as no real progress was made, rumors swirled that none of the scripts were particularly good, and when Harold Ramis passed away in 2014, it sadly meant fans would never see the full team back together again. But don’t be sullen about what could’ve been, because Ghostbusters 3 EXISTS, and has been around since 2009. Perhaps you missed it because it came in the form of a video game, but it was the best sequel fans could’ve ever hoped for.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game didn’t have the most original title, but developer Terminal Reality teamed with publisher Atari to create what Hollywood couldn’t. The game launched on June 16, 2009, and it did the seemingly impossible by bringing together all four original Ghostbusters into a brand new story. Yes, even Bill Murray. Rumors had persisted that Bill Murray had been a notorious holdout on making a new Ghostbusters for years and years, with the actor not all that interested in reprising the role of Peter Venkman. And yet the game put him front and center in a proton pack, battling apparitions with Akroyd, Ramis, and Hudson once more.
Not only were the four leads reunited, but the game could deny the realities that a live action Ghostbusters 3 would’ve had to accept. Instead of putting the iconic jumpsuits on men in their mid-60s, Ghostbusters: The Video Game took advantage of the digital medium to make each actor look roughly like they did in the early 1990s, the ideal time to make a third movie. Admittedly the last-gen graphics don’t look as good compared to PS4 and Xbox One titles of today, but there’s still something special about seeing all four of them reunited in HD, looking just as you remember them.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game is also very respectful of the series continuity, picking up loose threads from the previous films to create starting points for the story. Remember how the first film opened with a haunted library that the rookie Ghostbusters just ran away from? Well, now they return with proton packs fully charged to capture the spirit that keeps messing with all the shelves. There are similar return appearances of fan favorites like Slimer and The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, as well as supporting actors like Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz) and William Atherton (Walter Peck), plus a loving recreation of the Ghostbuster’s base. Sadly neither Sigourney Weaver nor Rick Moranis were involved in the fun, but you can bet that the game opens with Ray Parker Jr.’s iconic theme song.
Aykroyd and Ramis also are credited writers on the game, picking back up where they left off scripting both of the previous films. Aykroyd said in multiple interviews that the game includes concepts and paranormal facts he’d wanted to include in a theoretical third film. The game allowed he and Harold Ramis to get back together and do just that, all in a production that wouldn’t demand as much time of all the busy actors involved. In case you had any doubt what Ghostbusters: The Video Game meant to the very people who created the series, Dan Aykroyd even said, “This is essentially the third movie.”
So, if you’re one of those folks fretting about how this new movie doesn’t star the folks you want to see, you can always dig up a copy of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, though it’s in high demand lately. All versions are out of print and used copies will cost you more than most brand new games. So, if you’re feeling thrifty, why not instead watch the game’s campaign cut together into a three-hour long film?
Now folks have their Ghostbusters 3 AND a new film starring a fresh, modern cast. Everyone’s happy, right? Right?