The Ghostbusters have returned to video games with the recent Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed. This new game is an asymmetrical online multiplayer in which four players take on the role of brand new Ghostbusters (that they make in character customization) and one player assumes the role of the ghost. The four Ghostbusters win the match by eliminating each of the Rifts and busting the ghost, while the ghost wins by ensuring that the location is fully haunted. It’s a fun new online game for fans to experience even more Ghostbusters goodness. That being said, it does raise a question: Is Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed canon to the iconic films?
To determine this, let’s look at the evidence as to what makes the game canon. One major point is that Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson reprise their roles as Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore. Two of the original Ghostbusters are back and have a large presence in the game. Egon (who is absent due to Harold Ramis’s passing) and Venkman (who is absent due to Bill Murray not wanting to play ball) are both referenced.
Not only do these classic characters have major roles in the game’s story, but where they are in their lives and the roles they play in the story also fit in with the established canon. They’re both older and serve as mentors for the player character. Winston now runs the place and pays to keep the lights on. Ray, who’s still good friends with him, is running his occult shop he opened back in Ghostbusters 2.
This is right where the movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife left off. At the end of the movie, we see Winston bringing the Ecto-1 back to New York City and reopening the firehouse. The opening cinematic to Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed shows a montage of the rundown firehouse being rebuilt with Winston overseeing the process. Also in Afterlife, Ray mentions that the firehouse was briefly turned into a coffee shop, which is referenced in Spirits Unleashed as well. The stories of where the most recent movie ends and this new game begins line up rather well.
2009’s Ghostbusters the Video Game is canon and is often considered to be the Ghostbusters 3 that we never got, so there’s no reason this newer video game can’t also be canon as well. That now-older game introduced a playable Ghostworld level that is also used as the hub world for ghosts in Spirits Unleashed, which could just be a coincidence but could also further place Spirits Unleashed in the canon.
There also doesn’t seem to be anything in the game that retcons or contradicts any preexisting canon. Everything seems to line up and make sense when considering all of the story that came before. Obviously, we won’t know for sure if it’s actually canon or not until either answer is officially confirmed by Sony Pictures, Jason Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, or Illfonic, or if a future movie builds off of the story seen in the game or contradicts it. Until then, though, it’s a fun thought and nice to have a new way to further explore the Ghostbusters lore.
If it is true that Spirits Unleashed is canon, then that could mean some interesting things for the next movie and the future of the franchise. It could mean that the firehouse is already back up and running and, most importantly, that Winston has hired legions of new Ghostbusters to serve as New York City’s paranormal exterminators. Spirits Unleashed also introduces new characters who work for Winston at the firehouse and a nameless ghost (that they literally call Nameless) that they have captured in a pickle jar. Could we perhaps see these new characters or references to them in future projects? Only time will tell.
[…] Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed dropped last month, which is exciting for gamers and Ghostbusters fans alike. An online multiplayer video game that allows players to take on the role of a Ghostbuster or a ghost is an idea that can offer up a lot of fun, and now it’s a reality. Does the game provide the experience Ghostbusters fans have been craving, or does it miss the mark? Let’s investigate every spooky clue to find out. […]