Ghostbusters Puzzle Fighters (iOS) Review

Developer: Beeline Interactive, Inc.
Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: May 2, 2015
Price: Free

Mobile titles tend to go in one of two directions. On one hand, they can be easily loved, but on the other hand, it could be absolutely reviled. Ghostbusters Puzzle Fighter is a title that falls into the latter category. On initial glance, I anticipated a pleasing title that had a strong brand name recognition and I also saw that it was from Capcom. My hopes were high for this title, only for them to be crushed pretty badly.

I’d like to establish that I’ve played a decent chunk of mobile games, and some of them have even been good enough for me to “donate excessively” to their developers. When I look at Ghostbusters Puzzle Fighter, I see no reason to want to spend any of my money.

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When I look at a mobile game, I want to be pulled in for its art style. The art here looks very mediocre, compared to the complex artwork that other mobile games have. The art, which had recognizable Ghostbusters characters, felt cheesy and cartoony. The speech bubbles look so poorly implemented and are enormous in comparison to the size of the font used, so a majority of the screen is just an empty text bubble. In the battle screens, the art doesn’t look as bad, thankfully. The colors are very vibrant, I will give the game that. But this title clearly felt like it could pull in its players with bright colors and brand name recognition. The mediocre art direction of this game was further accentuated with the mediocre music, which became grating to listen to after a little while.

Ghostbusters is also currently struggling from an identity crisis. It is very clearly modeled after titles like Bejeweled or the infamous Candy Crush Saga, but it also tries to be a card-collecting/monster title… and its struggle to become a ‘collect them all’ game hurts it. The collection elements felt mediocre, and almost all of the units found playing the missions end up not being used.

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Gameplay is very bland, which surprises me since this is Capcom, and since Ghostbusters is such a highly recognizable brand. The missions are basically set to wipe out a group of monsters and then proceed to the next mission, assuming you have enough energy on the team to sustain it. Your team has three units that can participate, with a maximum of six (one by purchasing, one by securing your account with Facebook, and one by paying in-game premium currency). The gameplay is also incredibly simple with no sense of depth. Every turn, you move one block either up, down, left, or right, to line up three blocks that are of the same type. This restriction pales in comparison to the Puzzle and Dragons title, which essentially allows free movement in any direction, including diagonally, for an extended period of time. Block colors will be useful because they will fill up your team’s ability bars, and after filling up the bar, you can use a “special move” that can cause more damage to the opposing team. This process is rinsed, repeated, and performed until the mission is complete, and as you start advancing to the later levels, it gets dull very quickly.

The game’s monster collection elements means that there’s an element of raising them. Raising units is done by spending a secondary “experience point” currency, that can level up or a unit or boost his or her abilities to do more damage. Leveling up the team is a must as even in the later stages of the early missions, the opposing ghouls start to perform some fairly brutal combos that will quickly cripple your team.

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Playing this game as a free-to-play player (F2P), it sets so many punitive limitations that really prevents the player from wanting to get a bit deeper into the title. Titles like Puzzle and Dragons or Brave Frontier feature an energy/stamina bar that regenerates over a period of time (at a rate of about 1 energy/stamina per three minutes). Ghostbusters chooses to punish its players with a time-based system, but the time-based system affects the units and not the overall ability to play the game. Specifically, units spend game time recovering their health in order to continue exploring dungeons. The wait times to recover units vary, but even in the initial stages, recovery is as long as 90 minutes just for the individual unit. Progression will be slow in this game.

The other option, of course, is to pay money and recover it by purchasing a med-pack, but that’s pushing it as the in game premium currency, coins, is valuable and should be spent on adding new and valuable units to the roster. And while you can occasionally get these med-packs when playing the game, after they run out, the game will come to a complete halt, with the only option to refill the team’s energy is by paying for it. In addition, even leveling up the team can be restricted, as the experience gained by playing the game is paltry… but that can be remedied, of course, by paying money for 5,000 experience points. The lock down that I’ve encountered in this title is incredible — of all the mobile games I have played and donated to, this one is by far the worst. Everything is locked behind pay walls, and the greed is entirely evident here. The sad part is that people are going to pay for this big time, to get their fix of Ghostbusters.

The Bottome Line:

Unfortunately, Ghostbusters Puzzle Fighters falls very short of the greatness that other mobile titles have known for the past several years. What could have been a potentially good game has been ruined by in-app purchases, and it’s a lockdown that’s worse than any other title I’ve played on my phone. I would highly suggest Puzzle and Dragons as a better alternative, as the gameplay is much more fulfilling, offering much more complex gameplay and dungeon crawling elements.

The artwork for this title was nothing short of mediocre, and the music grates and grinds on the nerves after a while. I get that it was supposed to be a nostalgic Ghostbusters callback, but all it did was detract from what could have been a great title — a title that had great brand recognition and a great team to back it. In the end, this title has been nothing short of mediocre, and I cannot give this game a solid recommendation to anyone; in fact, I’d recommend sticking with what’s out there that’s popular and already has a substantial fan base.




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