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I never went to arcades often as a kid but when I did go, I always gravitated towards the light gun games. I always thought they were the coolest. Sadly, I don’t remember many of the ones I played but Ghost Squad is certainly one I would have wanted to play if I saw it. Well I did eventually get to play it because it was released for the Wii. I love when arcade games, especially light gun games, get ported to consoles. You pay once and get to play it in your home. It’s also cheaper than buying an arcade cabinet. Developed by Sega AM2 and published by Sega, Ghost Squad was released as an arcade game in 2004. It was ported to Wii in 2007 and that’s the version I played for this review.
Ghost Squad is a rail shooter that lets you blow away terrorists. The players take on the roles of members of an elite group called the Ghost Squad who are deployed to rescue hostages, defuse bombs, and eliminate terrorists. The terrorist group in the game is known as the “Indigo Wolves”. The voice acting is terrible and hilarious and the game as a whole is very cheesy and awesome.
Ghost Squad on Wii supports up to four players and like many other rail shooters, the characters or camera move automatically. You just point and shoot and aim off-screen to reload. There is a training mode where you can learn the basics and three difficulty modes. You will earn points for blowing away terrorists and completing events and if you turn the reticle off, you’ll earn more points. The objective of every mission is to progress through each area, complete all of the events, and take down the boss. You’re scored based on your performance and will gain experience, level up, and unlock things like additional costumes, weapons, and party modes. Some of the weapons you can unlock do make a difference and can make it easier to get through certain areas.
The Arcade mode is just a port of the arcade game. The Party mode is similar but offers a little more variety. In the Arcade mode, you can choose any unlocked weapon and costume and in the Party mode, you can select any unlocked sub-mode like the Ninja and Paradise modes. In the Ninja mode, you’ll throw shurikens and the terrorists are ninjas. In Paradise mode, you fire squirt guns and the terrorists are babes in bikinis. Whatever weapon you equip is your primary but the game will let you use special weapons at certain points. There’s a meter at the top left of the HUD that fills up as you play and when full, your gun performance improves. That’s what the game tells you, anyway. From what I played, I think it means you unlock additional fire modes. You’ll lose health when you get shot and want to avoid shooting hostages and allies. If you shoot certain objects and enemies, they reveal pickups you can acquire like health, armor, high cap magazines, dot sights, compensators, and medals which grant you more experience.
There are only three missions and they’re pretty short. The game can be beaten in under an hour. However, it offers a good amount of replay value. Each mission is broken up into multiple areas and has branching paths and there are what the game calls “Events” you’ll need to complete. These include things like sniping enemies, engaging foes in hand-to-hand combat, defusing mines, providing cover fire, and detaining hostages, among other things. These do break up the action nicely and some branching paths offer different events. As you complete Areas and Events, the mission level will increase which seems to unlock more paths to take on subsequent playthroughs. To complete missions to one hundred percent, you will need to play through them multiple times in an effort to complete each event.
Your score is based on your accuracy, events cleared, and enemies neutralized. As mentioned before, playing with the reticle off means you’ll earn more points but it’s definitely more challenging. Ghost Squad provides plenty of terrorists to shoot. You’ll often be up against multiple enemies at a time and they’ll shoot at you, some throw grenades, and others wield knives. Some even utilize shields. None of the enemies are very difficult to take down. You just need to have good reaction times. The most dangerous enemy in a group is highlighted and if you don’t kill him in time, you’ll take damage. You need to be alert at all times because enemies can appear from around corners, behind objects, and will often dive in front of you so you’re looking down the barrel of their gun. Each mission ends with a boss and they each need to be taken down in different ways. Failing to defeat a boss results in the mission being aborted.
Each mission takes you to a different location. You’ll blow away bad guys in a villa, shoot your way around Air Force One, and infiltrate the Indigo Wolves hideout in South America. Enemies will come from every direction, you’ll get to use night and thermo vision goggles in certain areas, shoot down helicopters, and you’ll even get to sneak around. You never get to control your character’s movement but you can decide on the path you take. I think the semi non-linear levels is one of the game’s best features because despite its short length, you’re encouraged to play through it multiple times and you have to if you want to see everything the game has to offer.
Ghost Squad is not presented in a wide screen resolution and does look a bit dated now. Some of the textures are blurry but I do like the visual effects. You can shoot objects like all the food in the restaurant area and they’ll scatter around the environment. The Party sub-modes will change character and weapon models and some of parts of the environments to match the theme of the mode. The sound effects are loud and clear, weapons sound appropriate, you can hear the sounds of footsteps, and enemies will shout but they all seem to sound the same. The soundtrack is okay and includes some catchy tunes here and there. On the technical side, I did not encounter any issues.
Despite its short length, Ghost Squad is an enjoyable rail shooter. You’re going to have to play it multiple times to get the most out of it. The Party sub-modes certainly add some needed and humorous variety to the gameplay. But even with the branching paths, Party sub-modes, and unlockable weapons and costumes, the gameplay can still feel repetitive because there’s only three short missions. It’s a great game for short bursts and if you have some buddies to play with but if you’re goal is to complete the game to one hundred percent and unlocking everything, it can feel like a grind.
I would absolutely recommend Ghost Squad to anyone. I think it’s one of the best rail shooters on the Wii. You can still find copies for pretty cheap as of this review and it’s got a lot of replay value. It’s a very short game but there’s plenty to unlock and it can be enjoyed solo or with friends. Definitely check it out.