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Ghostbusters: The Video Game - Original Story Scripts & Transcripts

 By Paul Rudoff on Jan. 21, 2023 at 9:40 PM , Categories: Games, VIP Exclusives

Back in 2009, Ghostbusters: The Video Game was released by Atari to great acclaim. Not only was it a game worthy of the name "Ghostbusters", but it was a damn good movie-based game, too. In order for the game to be that good, it had to have a good story behind it. Through various sources, Spook Central has managed to acquire several drafts of the MASSIVE script for the game. Read on to find out more...

There were six credited writers on Ghostbusters: The Video Game: Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, John Zuur Platten, Flint Dille, Patrick Hegarty, and John Melchior (who was only credited in the stylized version). Although the marketing department heavily hyped Aykroyd and Ramis as the writers of the game, they had each gone on record to state that all they did were small rewrites and consultation. (I know Dan said it too in a text or video interview - but I can't find the link.) I always got the impression that Dille and Zuur Platten (you don't know how tempting it is to write "Zuul Platten") wrote the bulk of the script, Hegarty wrote a few scenes and/or dialog, Aykroyd and Ramis consulted and did little rewrites to all of that, and Melchior wrote some stuff that only appears in the stylized version. Back in November 2009, I e-mailed Mr. Dille and Mr. Platten to find out if my hunch was right, and they were happy to share with me some information about the writing of the game. With their permission, I relay this information to you.
The way you have it is pretty much right on. Our original pitch for the game was "Who's Gozer Gonna Call?" - the idea being that after he's been defeated by the Ghostbusters, the gods get together and gang up on Gozer (beaten by a bunch of pathetic humans, after all) and kick him out of their realm (his wife, a goddess, played a part in this). So Gozer fools the Ghostbusters in rounding up all the ghosts in New York so that he has an army to fight with and reclaim his throne in the afterlife. Of course, the Ghostbusters eventually figure out what's up, but they make a deal with Gozer to stop the greater evil. And of course, Gozer reneges on the deal and they eventually have to defeat him again.

Shandor played a big role in this by creating the ghost mandala that basically was some of the key landmarks of New York. Eventually, Shandor became the primary villain, and Ilyssa was the conduit to him.

Flint and I did the first draft (and three additional drafts) of the Ghostbusters game script while it was in development at Sierra. Dan and Harold were part of the approval process at that point, but gave us very little input other than some high level notes. The big issue was "would Bill Murray be involved or not", which meant we did a draft that wrote out Venkman in the first scene. Of course, once we had done our drafts, Harold and Dan did a "punch up", re-writing mostly dialogue (which both Flint and I think was great - it was an honor to play in their world).

John Melchior was an executive at Sierra on the project, and came up with some of the ideas. He was not involved in writing with us, but appears to have made some contributions. Patrick we never met (not unusual in this business). He may have been involved directly with Terminal Reality (who we met early on in the process).

It was great that Atari picked up the game from the ruins of the Activision purchase of Sierra (who were after Blizzard and WoW more than anything else).

Overall, I think it turned out very well.

-- John Zuur Platten
Flint Dille told me an amusing little antedote: John and I referred to each other as Dan and Harold when we were writing it, because we sort of cynically assumed that we'd get no credit. We were wrong. If you dig through the game's audio files, or read the script, you'll find out that John and Flint named the two guards at the beginning of the game "Danny" and "Harold" in honor of Mr. Aykroyd and Mr. Ramis.

Through various sources (credited below), Spook Central has acquired the following drafts of the game's cutscenes script. Interestingly, the February 11, 2008 draft is titled "Ghostbusters III", leading more credence to Dan Aykroyd's statement to Game Informer magazine that the game is "essentially the third movie" (before Afterlife was even a gleam in Jason Reitman's eye). Ultimately, Sony put the kibosh on the final game being named "Ghostbusters III", though to me, that's what it is. It completes the "trilogy" of the original film series, and Afterlife is a future continuation.

Overall the scripts are similar to the final game, but there are differences. In the October 8, 2007 draft, you can find the parade scene after the museum visit (pages 40-46), Louis' small role at the start of the game and after the parade scene, a false ending after you beat an unused butler ghost (pages 57-59), and the Ghostbusters shutting down the containment grid to create their own "ghost army" (page 62). The February 11, 2008 draft is about twice as long as the 2007 draft and gives a more complete look at all levels, including the parade level, which has a sequence inside Ray's Occult. It also ends with the Vigo painting flanking the end credits, making fun at all those who are listed in them.

The October 8, 2007 draft was provided by John Zuur Platten and Flint Dille to Spook Central back in November 2009. The February 11, 2008 draft came from the Tom Davis Papers in the General Collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. It was provided to the Internet on January 21, 2023 through a joint effort of Ghostbusters Wiki and Spook Central. Tom Davis, an actor and writer with numerous film and television comedy credits, and a dear friend of Dan Aykroyd, died on July 19, 2012. His widow or estate gave his collection of work materials to Yale University for their collection, so that researchers may learn about him and the work that he did. Rest in peace, Tom, and thank you for helping to preserve this little bit of Ghostbusters history.

All Ghostbusters copyrights belong to Sony Pictures and its subsidiaries, Columbia Pictures Industries Inc. and Ghost Corps. The scripts are being provided for educational and research purposes only. No infringement of rights is intended or implied, and if those parties disapprove of a script being made available for the fans online, it will be taken down upon request - but I don't see any reason why it should ever have to come to that.

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