The Real Ghostbusters!

It’s time for some more Saturday morning cartoon nostalgia!

Back in the late 1980s, Columbia made a cartoon series based on the original film that ran to 140 episodes across two seasons, which always sounds a huge amount, but then something like He-Man had roughly the same number, so I guess it was something of a standard. As a fun fact, the cartoon was called “The Real Ghostbusters” because of a dispute with Filmation, the company behind He-Man, Brave Starr, and many others – Columbia actually had to license the name for the film in 1984, and it led to the storyline of the first episode (shown in the youtube video above) that shows a rival group of ghost hunters trying to steal the work of Egon, Ray, Peter and Winston.

Anyhow!

As much as I love the franchise, I have to say, I’ve never really found the same kind of love for the cartoon as I have for the film(s), even given my previously-mentioned toy obsession, the toys of course being directly made from the cartoon and not the movie.

Looking back, I don’t really remember any particular episode from the cartoon series, though I do have vague memories of watching the show as a child. For some odd reason, the clearest memory of the Real Ghostbusters was a book/audio tape combo called The Cabinet of Calamari, based off episode 63:

The cartoons are pretty goofy to watch them today, and while I’m a great apologist for a lot of this sort of stuff (check out my Ring Raiders, D&D and Visionaries blogs in this category!) I just can’t bring myself to watch these things without cringing a little! I mean, Slimer is the Ghostbusters’ pet, for heaven’s sake!!

It is worth mentioning that a few of the ghosts from the new Cryptozoic game have their origin in this cartoon series, including the Boogeyman and Samhain. There is a definite nostalgia value here, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing off to buy these on DVD any time soon…

Birthday Week Game Day Extra!

It’s birthday week here on spalanz.com, and time for a bit of game day extra, as I take a look at some more nostalgia from my childhood: The Real Ghostbusters: The Game!

Ghostbusters retro games

Oh, this one’s hilarious! Dating from 1989, the game is a tie-in to the cartoon series of the same name (more on that tomorrow!) You play one of the four Ghostbusters, or Janine or Slimer, and travel around the board trying to trap ghosts – once all the ghosts are trapped, the winner is the person who had the most.

Ghostbusters retro games

Along the way, there are mechanics for player interaction where you can attempt to “spook” your opponents – basically by playing rock/paper/scissors – to take their kit cards. Without all three pieces of kit (proton pack, proton gun, trap), you can’t trap ghosts and so cannot win the game. When you come to trap ghosts, the “bust-o-meter” is spun to determine the strength of your stream: if it’s higher than the ghost’s slime value (listed on the side of the board), you trap it. That’s pretty much all there is to it, though Action cards do allow you to interact with the game a little more, such as moving to ghosts to trap them etc.

I had this game from new, and seem to remember trying to get my brother to play it with me back in the day. I found it in the attic when I moved a few years ago, along with another awesome retro game that will be featured here no doubt eventually, and convinced my regular gaming buddy Tony to play, but it didn’t really stand up to the test of time.

Something I wasn’t all that impressed by was just how easy it is to knock somebody out of the game entirely, by winning just one round of rock/paper/scissors. Given your ability in the game is based entirely on something so arbitrary is just bizarre, I thought – it feels more luck-based than any kind of dice game, somehow! Maybe I’m just not good at rock/paper/scissors, though?

At any rate, it was fun to revisit the past, but I can’t say I’d recommend hunting down a copy on ebay anytime soon!

Ghostbusters comics!

Let’s continue with birthday week here at spalanz.com, with a look at something I’ve only fairly recently discovered: Ghostbusters comics!

Ghostbusters comics

Shocking stuff, I know, but I was completely unaware of these creations until the board game from Cryptozoic, which stated it uses the artwork from the ongoing series from IDW comics. Having no idea such things existed, I decided it was time to investigate! That was in October 2014, and despite buying the second volume a couple of months later, I still hadn’t actually gotten around to reading them until preparations began for this very blog you’re reading now!

The ongoing series began in September 2011 and would eventually run to 16 issues. The two books I’ve read so far really have the feel of the movies in terms of the characters we know and love there, and since reading them a few days ago, I’ve been trying my best to track down some more!

The first book collects the first four issues that tell a story connected to the first film in the series. Gozer the Gozerian is attempting to come back to this plane of existence, only this time doesn’t want to make the mistake of having its form chosen entirely at random. Instead, it has spawned a new creation, called Idulnas, who will attempt to sway the Decider (Ray, in case you’d forgotten) into choosing a much more horrible, destructive form. Well, despite Idulnas’ attempts otherwise, Ray still chooses the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and the story ends with New York under six feet of marshmallow.

The second book continues a couple of the plot threads, but takes our intrepid quartet upstate to Schenectady, where a paranormal manifestation has taken over a theme park. The manifestation possesses Peter Venkman, though Venkman manages to exorcise himself and the ghost is busted. The book ends with Egon following a hunch about the increased ambient PKE-readings around the city that leads him to an old schoolfriend he thought dead, Eugene Visitor. Turns out, Eugene has captured Death, meaning he didn’t die in school, but also that nobody else is truly dying, hence the increased paranormal activity.

They’re a fantastic pair of books, and I can’t believe it’s taken me over a year and a half to get around to reading them! Sure, the first book is a little derivative of the movie, but I thought this posed an interesting question about the nature of the Ghostbusters franchise as a whole – just what is it all about? The movies show us four guys who managed to come up with a way of dealing with paranormal activity in New York City, and so run around with proton packs and shooting ghosts into traps. That’s really it – there’s no big drama in their personal lives, as those personal lives aren’t really all that important to the story. We get four almost caricatures, and then the game is afoot!

So it was interesting, to me, to get a storyline that begins to explore who these people are. It’s early days, of course, as there are a whole load of these books available on amazon, but I liked in particular seeing the character development of Peter Venkman, all-too-often relegated to being smart-mouthed comic relief. During his possession in the second book, we get to see more about him, but we also actually get to see just how capable he is in such circumstances. Ray and Egon get along because they’re the nerdy-scientist trope, and Winston is the everyman who answered a job ad, but why is Peter even there? Well, now we know. The others aren’t ignored either, as we get a little bit more light shed on each. It was interesting to see more of Egon in particular, and I hope more is explored there in later volumes.

Definitely worth the trouble getting hold of these books!

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Ghostbusters!

Aw, yeah! You love it!

It’s birthday week here at spalanz.com, and I’m reliving another of my all-time favourite franchises: Ghostbusters! I’m almost as old as the original film, which is a bit of trivia that is partly meaningless, but grew up surrounded by it thanks to the sequel coming out at a time when all I wanted was to have lots and lots of toys. And my god, did this franchise deliver on that front!

I’m going to ramble inanely for a while now…

Ghostbusters retro toys

Ghostbusters is one of those films, like Beetlejuice and Masters of the Universe, that I used to love to watch repeatedly (driving the folks mental, no doubt), before then recreating the story with a vast horde of action figures. Between us, my brother and I must have had everything going for the range – which makes the above photo a sad memory in some respects, as it’s not the entire collection we had! Taking a look through all of those I still have in order to write this, however, has brought a lot of memories back, I have to say! Still upset my mum never let us have the goo that came with the fire station…

Ghostbusters

I love the first Ghostbusters movie, largely because, as a kid, I loved Slimer and thought he was the best. Not entirely sure why, but I just remember this as being a fact. I somehow never really registered this film as a comedy back in the day, I just remember all of the awesome action scenes as being amazing, and the “Saving the Day” sequence always used to excite me like nothing you’d know. I’m often surprised when I re-watch movies that were a big part of my childhood, as I find it hard to date them, as the quality or whatever is deeply ingrained so I gloss over any imperfections, much like I still don’t see Jabba the Hutt as a puppet. However, the special effects in this movie, considering it’s almost 32 years old, are still pretty great when you watch it now. Sure, some bits might be clunky, but that sequence with the paranormal energy zooming over the New York cityscape? Forget about it, that is just cinema at its finest!

Ghostbusters

The second film came out five years later, (a move that parallels Indiana Jones 2 and 3, just thought I’d point that out), and seemed somehow more subdued than the first one. While Gozer the Gozerian (still makes me laugh) is out to destroy the world, and would be a very serious threat if its chosen form hadn’t been a huge marshmallow, Vigo the Carpathian spends almost all of the film stuck in a painting, and barely manifests as a real person before his defeat. There’s a greater element of supernatural terror that comes from this, but I don’t know, it just doesn’t feel quite the same, I guess.

Ghostbusters II

The story still manages to have some wonderful moments – I love all the underground stuff, as I’m semi-fascinated with stuff like the history of disused underground systems like that. The walking Statue of Liberty is also a fantastic sequence that I find really exciting in the course of the movie. A lot of movie sequels are bad attempts to cash-in on the success of the first, but this one is definitely not that!

I love these films immeasurably, as they’re just enjoyable action adventure stories with a whole ton of comedy, not to mention the enormous nostalgia factor. That’s pretty much the entire substance of this blog, anyway, and makes me realise I don’t really have a point that I’m trying to make here.

So I’ll leave you with this picture of my original Ghostbusters toys…

Ghostbusters retro toys

Who ya gonna call?

It’s birthday week again at spalanz.com, as my blog turns two on Thursday – aww! To celebrate, I’m having another theme-week, though not quite as expansive as last year’s Indiana Jones week unfortunately. But it’s still amazing, as we once again return to a beloved franchise from the 1980s – it’s Ghostbusters!

I’ve got a couple of blogs coming later in the week that will be waxing lyrical on the movies and such, so you can definitely look forward to those, but it’s Tuesday, so it’s time for a game day blog – and one that I’ve been really looking forward to sharing with you guys: it’s the new board game from Cryptozoic!

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

Well, it was new back last November, but anyway. This was a kickstarter game that was funded in March 2015, and eventually found its way to me later that year. It’s a relatively straightforward game, where you play one of the iconic four Ghostbusters – Ray Stantz, Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, or Winston Zeddemore:

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

(Other Ghostbusters are available…)

During the game, you get the opportunity to level up your character by busting ghosts, which gives your character additional skills – it’s a simplified RPG-style system, and one that I am pretty impressed by!

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

Ghosts come in different classes, which roughly denotes how difficult they are to deal with, and feature the mechanics used to both move and trap them (more on this shortly). The ghost miniatures are all this clear-blue plastic, with the exception of Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (white, obviously) and Slimer (in green). Something I think is really cool is that whenever a ghost moves into another ghost, they become a bigger threat, turning into a ghost of the next class up! Wonderful!

The game is played according to different scenarios, outlined on their own cards:

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

These cards show how to set up the map tiles, where to place ghost miniatures, etc, and feature the win conditions.

So let’s talk gameplay.

The game round is split between the Ghostbusters’ movement, any “end of round” effects, then the Event die is rolled. On a Ghostbuster’s turn, you have two actions to choose from, such as moving, aiding others, and combat. The main focus is of course combat, as you try to rid the streets of New York of all the paranormal manifestations!

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

Importantly, to hit a ghost, you must have line of sight to it – so any terrain features outlined on the map can potentially block you. You also need to be no more than 3 spaces away from it. Each ghost has a to hit and to trap value on its card – when you’re fighting it, you roll a d6 and try to equal or exceed the hit value. If you’re successful, you’ll get to put a proton stream marker underneath that ghost (as shown above, Egon has hit the Boogaloo Manifestation once, so he gets to put one stream token under it). Class 1 ghosts only require one stream token to trap them, so if you hit them, you get to remove them from the board and place them on your character sheet; otherwise, the ghosts will continue to move around with that stream token under them until they are trapped – hit enough times to have stream tokens under them equal to their to trap value. When this happens, the Ghostbuster who put the final stream token on the ghost gets it, but anyone else who had stream tokens under the ghost gets 1XP. Ghostbusters also have some abilities to gain additional XP from their abilities.

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

Once each Ghostbuster has had their allotted two actions, if the scenario card shows any end-of-round actions, they’ll happen, then the event die is rolled. This is a custom d6 with the Zener Card symbols (from Venkman’s test at the beginning of the movie?) – the scenario card tells you how many gates there are open on the map, represented by cardboard tokens as seen in the above photo. These gates also have the symbols on them, and if the symbol rolled matches an open gate, a new ghost will come out of it.

The way these ghosts come out is pretty nice, as well – there is another cardboard tile that represents a PKE meter, with numbers 1-8 around a central square. You roll a d8 to determine which square the ghost will emerge onto, imagining the gate tile as being the central square. The event die also has an eight-pointed Chaos star (if you’re familiar with Warhammer, you’ll know this one). This represents Chaos and each ghost on the map will move according to its reference card.

Ghostbusters board game Cryptozoic

This is a really fun game, I like it a lot! The rulebook isn’t particularly great, which made my very first game a bit confusing as I tried to make sense of what I was doing in terms of the round structure or whatever, but once I got past that, I think it went pretty smoothly and I quickly got into it – after which, I quickly discovered that I really loved it!

The basic game that you can get at retail has a lot of fun, but the kickstarter version has got a whole ton of extras, and it would be remiss of me to not mention this. To be blunt, the kickstarter campaign was a bit of a mess. Almost all of the classic movie stuff was kickstarter exclusive, including the librarian, Gozer and the dogs, etc, which was something of a bizarre move from such an established game company. As of the time of this writing, there is a second game up on kickstarter, which has a lot of this kickstarter loot available in add-ons, and anyone who picked up this game at retail should definitely look into that. It’s not all of the content, unfortunately, but it’s a lot of it.

The scenarios are where the game shines of course, and there are plenty of them to keep you going through so much gaming, and they are a whole ton of fun.

Pick up a copy today!

New stuff Monday!

So this dropped today, and I have to say I’m finally thinking this might be worth looking into now. I’m not the biggest fan of Suicide Squad, I have to say – always found it a bit unnecessarily violent, to be honest, but after watching the new trailer, I’m really interested… Might even pick up a graphic novel at some point, see if there’s anything to it…

The Ghostbusters II board game has gone live on kickstarter today, and looks a lot of fun! I have a blog upcoming for the first game soon, but suffice it to say, it is great. The second game looks to be just as fun – I’m particularly pleased to see Jail Jaw and Mail Fraud, two of the great ghosts from the toy line!

So excited for these things!!

Games Sunday!

Hey everybody!
It feels like a while since I’ve been posting anything of substance here, apologies to all who have missed my sagacious words this past week! I’ve been feeling a bit rough, sadly, between one thing and another. I’ve also been working madly at an essay that’s due on Thursday – I managed to get about half of it done yesterday, eventually, but that’s been heavy-going. Additionally, I’ve been asked to produce a promotional video for a meeting in work, which has involved a steep learning curve on Windows Movie Maker, but I’ve managed to throw something together. That’s actually been lots of fun, and I’m hoping to make use of these skills for this here blog in the future! You have been warned!

However, due to all of these shenanigans, I’m more than likely only going to have time for another small-scale game day blog next week. It’s about two weeks until I’ve got some time off, however, so such meagre offerings will hopefully be mitigated then!

So what’s new in the world?

Not sure if you’ve seen the news, but FFG put up a preview for the first deluxe expansion to the Warhammer Conquest LCG, The Great Devourer. Tyranids are coming to the Traxis Sector! While I was hoping for Necrons, it’s still exciting to see!

The Great Devourer

I picked up the third war pack last week from the local games shop, and was taking with the manager there about how I’ve only actually managed to get in one game with this one, back when the core set released before Christmas. That needs to be remedied, and soon, I feel! I seem to remember that it is a really great game, with a lot of strategy and such, so I hope I can get it to the table more, anyway. The new deluxe seems to offer a lot of interesting options, anyway, so I can definitely see myself picking this up. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but Tyranids would have been my army of choice had I not gone for Necrons.

Speaking of Warhammer, I’ve not painted anything for what seems like an age. Luckily, I’ve also not been buying things in a similar timeframe. Since I hit the wall, I’ve sold off a few of my kits on ebay to try to thin the ranks, but it hasn’t really helped! I’ve been pursuing more traditional tabletop gaming pursuits, such as Thunderstone, which helped to redress the balance in my life after Warhammer had been taking over. However, there are still odd moments where I find myself wanting to be more creative once again, so I think it might only be a matter of time before I pick up a brush.

Not before I finish the essay, however!

As far as Warhammer Fantasy goes, the fifth and final round of the End Times is currently raging, with Archaon the Everchosen coming down from the Chaos Wastes to wreak havoc among the shattered remains of the Empire. I pre-ordered the books on Friday, but haven’t gone for a Bloodthirster – it’s a nice model, but I still prefer the daemon prince!

Back to FFG, who have also announced another Reinforcements pack for Battlelore, the Razorwings. Still really excited for new stuff for Battlelore, though part of me is really concerned as to the expansion model we’re seeing here. While it is, of course, a tactical miniatures wargame, I was still hoping it would be expanded in the traditional manner of a boardgame, with a big box for more stuff. Instead, while they have announced boxes of army reinforcements, we’re seeing more of these smaller packs of just a couple of minis, and my wallet cries out in dismay! However, the Razorwings are something of an iconic Terrinoth monster, so it’ll definitely be fun to have these in the game.

Battlelore Razorwings

We’re currently looking at a similar situation for Imperial Assault, which has had another preview of the new ally packs that are expected shortly. I still haven’t been able to play Imperial Assault, unfortunately, so I’m currently hoping to abstain from buying these things. Yeah, right…

Back to LCGs now, and Escape from Mount Gram, the second adventure pack in the Angmar Awakened cycle for Lord of the Rings, has been announced. I’ve mentioned it before, of course, that I was a playtester for this cycle, and this adventure is just awesome. The preview article only hints at the actual quest, which I’m not going to spoil here, but suffice it to say, this quest is hard for solo play. The final pack in the cycle was my absolute favourite, with some awesome effects involved. I’m pretty sure a lot of people are going to be pleased with this one!

JSA crossover 1

Over to Cryptozoic now, where the DC deck-building game continues to expand! Crisis Pack #2 was released a couple of weeks ago, and that looks like more of the same from Crisis Pack #1, though obviously tailored to Heroes Unite rather than the base game. The JSA Crossover Pack #1 looks like a really cool way of expanding the line, too – more heroes, more super-villains, and a smattering of new main deck cards, all for £8! It gives it almost a LCG-like feel! Of course, a lot of people have been complaining that there is only one current actual expansion for the game, the Crisis Pack, as the other stuff released so far has been new core sets, with punches and kicks etc that are just superfluous if you only want more options for one game. Well, now you have them! As ‘Crossover Pack 1’, it means there’s a whole host of options for more in the future! According to boardgamegeek, Packs 2 and 3 are Arrow and Legion of Super-Heroes, respectively. I believe Pack 2 will have screencaps from the TV show, unfortunately, but even so, it’s always good to see games expanded! Pack 3 also links to a fourth core set that is expected sometime soon, Teen Titans. I’m sure I’ll keep buying these things, as it is an enjoyable game.

Ghostbusters

And speaking of Cryptozoic, there are just three days left on their Ghostbusters kickstarter!

I’m still pretty excited by this game, having been a huge fan of this IP as a child. A lot of negativity has surrounded the game, something I only vaguely touched on when I last looked at the campaign earlier in the month. It is currently 390% funded, and has seen twenty stretch goals to get there. Of these, seventeen are kickstarter exclusives. And there are some pretty iconic Ghostbusters characters among those exclusives. A lot of people have read this as a cash-grab, with the company wanting to just make as much money from a one-time deal as they can, then drop the thing, while recently some more level-headed arguments have been put forward.

The game is primarily based around the comics series from IDW publishing, with the ghostbusters themselves having this comic-book look to them. The game has barely scratched the surface of the universe that has been continued in this medium, so it’s entirely possible that the game is more comics-centric than movies-centric. While that makes a lot of sense in terms of the game itself, from a business point of view, it seems overwhelmingly short-sighted, as I imagine most people aren’t even aware of the comics. (If you’re one of these people, start here!) I’ve currently thrown $300 at this campaign, anyway, as I’m thinking I’ll cover all bases by getting the exclusives add-ons while they’re available, then if the game isn’t supported post-release, I’ll at least have plenty of options for a long time!

While I’m on the subject of comics…

Years ago, I was an avid comics collector. It became something close to an addiction, however, and I made the herculean effort of selling them all. I’ve still been a Star Wars comics fan, of course, but all my Marvel and DC stuff I got rid of. However, I can’t help feeling that I didn’t do the right thing, and playing games like DC and Marvel Legendary has shown that I still have a love of comic book universes. So I decided to get a couple of things at the end of last month, including the new Flash comics that are part of DC’s overhaul, the New 52. They’ve only just arrived, and I haven’t had a chance to read them yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Flash has forever been my favourite DC hero, in part because it remains to this day the only computer game I have ever completed…

That’s right, kids – these are the kind of games I grew up with!