People often remember two things about the Nintendo Wii game library. First, the plethora of great Nintendo games. Everything from the Wii Sports pack in, to Super Mario Galaxy. Second, the walls of shovelware covering the platform section in their local game stores. But astute people know the system was home to a lot of really neat gems. It was also home to the resurgence of on-rails light gun shooting.
PROS: An excellent port on an excellent arcade game.
CONS: Short. Hokey voice acting.
WEAPONS: The variety here is staggering. Provided you replay it a lot
Ghost Squad sticks out in that ocean of light gun games, because of several reasons. First, it’s a port of an underrated arcade machine. Sega’s Ghost Squad feels like an evolutionary step above Vitrua Cop. It has that same twitch game play. Move into an area, stop. Then blast enemies as they appear. It has the same goofy delivery in its voice acting. But it has a distinct charm for that. The shooting requires speed, and accuracy like pretty much all of Sega’s arcade shooters have.
On the Wii, it’s a pretty close conversion. The graphics are about on par with the cabinet, and everything feels nearly 1:1. That’s also a great thing because most people have never had the opportunity to play Ghost Squad in the arcade. Outside of Dave & Busters, not too many areas have a place where they can go spend an evening with friends plopping quarters into cabinets anymore.
As for the game itself, it’s a great light gun game, that takes a few risks, and innovations few other light gun games have taken. In Ghost Squad, you, and friends take the role of a private military force who are sent in to take out terrorists, and rescue hostages. The game is only three stages long. But before you throw your hands up, and walk away, there are a lot of variants on those three stages. Upon your first play through you’ll only see them crop up occasionally, as the game gives you an option of which path to take. Depending on your performance of each mission, you can unlock new paths. This gives an otherwise short game, almost as many stages as other games of its ilk.
Ghost Squad has three difficulty settings, and all of them manage to present a challenge. The game works almost exactly the same as Virtua Cop, in that when an enemy appears you’ll see a ring appear around them. When this happens you only have a brief moment before you’re hit, as this means you’ve been locked on. Harder difficulties make this happen faster, so get in the habit of trying to shoot them before the rings even appear. You can also shoot background items to find secret health power ups, and weapon attachments. But you have to be quick, and balance that between hitting the bad guys in time.
A lot of the game’s branching paths can be really interesting too. There are some that will see you rescuing a lot of hostages. In these the game goes out of its way to make you mistake a hostage for a villain. So you really have to pay attention, as shooting hostages is very punitive. Especially on higher difficulties. Other branching paths let you use cool gadgets like night vision goggles.
The Wii version also has a few things over the arcade machine. Up to four people can play it together, making it great for parties. There are also a bunch of silly costumes you can unlock, and there are also modes. Paradise mode, that turns the enemies into swimwear clad beach bums, and your weapons are replaced with water guns. As well as Ninja mode, that replaces your bullets with shurikens.
Each time you play through the game you’re given a rating on each stage based on your score, whether or not you completed the objective, and your time. The higher your score the faster you can level up your character for playing through the game again. As you level up the character the game begins giving you extra rewards. Shotguns, SMGs, and other weapons, along with aforementioned costumes. You can also turn off the crosshairs in order to add more challenge to the experience. Doing so also rewards you with a much higher score.
The pointer controls are also perfect for a game like this (part of the reason why the genre saw such an uptick on the Wii), and in the case of Ghost Squad are implemented very well. It still isn’t the same as holding a plastic gun in an arcade, but it does manage to get close to replicating that feeling. It isn’t going to suck up hours at a time the way other games might, but it certainly can scratch an itch for parties, and family gatherings.
Aside from the game’s short length, and blocky graphics there isn’t much to really complain about here. The branching paths do add some length to mitigate the issue, and the visuals aren’t the most horrible thing you’ll see on the system either. Really, the issues are relatively minor. Though with most of the internet functions shut down these days don’t expect to be able to use the worldwide ranking system.
If you missed out on this game in the past, I highly recommend picking it up now. Especially if you miss the bygone days of things like Operation Wolf, House Of The Dead, Virtua Cop, Lethal Enforcers, or the Terminator 2 Arcade machine. It’s a lot of fun to play, especially with friends, and it can be had ridiculously cheaply these days.
Final Score: 8 out of 10