Would Ghostbusters make a great LEGO franchise game?

Would Ghostbusters make a great LEGO franchise game?

Ghostbusters, a franchise that has been a favourite of mine since young childhood. Two movies and an epic animated run, action figures now worth a small fortune, a handful of 8 and 16-bit videogames, it’s a franchise that had already done so much before the turn of the century.

Here we are now, in 2024, two more movies down (one less popular than the other, but we’ll get to that later) and on the cusp of another release, and as I found myself watching the Frozen Empire trailer for the 157th time, I asked myself, how cool would a full-length LEGO game be based on this franchise?

You may have read my article of a similar vein on why Doctor Who would be perfect for a fully fledged LEGO outing after the success of LEGO Dimensions, and whilst I had planned for that to be a one-off thing, my recent return to that LEGO multiversal game has reminded me of another great franchise that would work exceptionally well now as a fully-fledged game.

Before I go any further, let me just caveat all that is to come with the fact that this is but a dream scenario, it’s never likely to happen. Much like my Whovian opinion piece, however, there’s no harm in asking, what if?

A brief history of Ghostbusters


So, let’s take a look at what assets this great franchise has to offer.

We have the original movie that started it all, never meant for bigger things, but just a stand-alone movie of comedy greatness that told the story of three scientists who essentially set up a supernatural pest control business where they capture and store the nasties of the underworld. Made up of premium Saturday Night Live talent in both cast and writing room, it is considered a defining movie of its era, capturing the zeitgeist of 1980s New York perfectly.  

The success of the movie spawned the almost immediate release of an animated show which began life as a direct sequel to the cinematic release. Taking every inspiration from the movie it could, including its epic theme tune remixed, The Real Ghostbusters ran for the majority of a decade, expanding the mythos of the franchise even further. Another animated show followed in the late 90’s, The Extreme Ghostbusters, but it never came close to the same level of popularity.

Five years after the original movie released, it’s cinematic successor finally made its debut. Picking up with a now disbanded team being forced back together to save the world once more, the sequel isn’t quite as beloved as it’s predecessor, despite a full returning cast and some great new additions. Ultimately, the weakness of the movie lies in it’s villain, there was never the same world-ending threat that the mysteries leading to Zuul gave us.

It took nearly 30 years for the franchise to return to the big screen, but before we get to THAT movie, a quick sideline to 2009’s brilliant Ghostbusters: The Videogame. Set a couple of years after Ghostbusters II, it’s the closest thing fans will ever get to a true Ghostbusters III, with a wonderful narrative that fits brilliantly into that movie universe. For added gravitas, the majority of the original cast returned to voice their characters.

Seven years on and the Ghostbusters franchise was thrown into turmoil. With a production company eager to cash in on the IP, and Bill Murray not wanting to return, the decision was made to reboot the franchise, to modernise it and so was born, the female Ghostbusters.

ld ghostbusters

For many reasons, some genuine, some shockingly awful, and some just plain ignorant, the movie didn’t go down well with the majority of the fanbase. Personally, I didn’t mind it, it doesn’t come close to the brilliance of the original movie, but it’s far from the worst movie ever released. Whatever your views of it, it did happen, it’s part of the history.

Of course, the positive spin you can put on it is that it proved the passion for the originals was still very much alive, the fans wanted more story in that universe and so with the son of the original director at the helm, Afterlife was born.

Taking fan-service to near No Way Home limits, 2021’s Ghostbusters: Afterlife oozed more nostalgia than a Comic-Con guest line-up. The same soundtrack, the same baddie, the descendants of one of the original characters taking the reins, and topping it all off was the return of the original Ghostbusters. They knew what they were doing, they sold us a new story dripped in the scent of the original, akin to The Force Awakens, and it worked. From that very first teaser image of a battered old Ecto-1, we were sold.

So here we are, 2024, mere weeks away from the release of a fifth movie, LEGO games have done great things with less to work with.

So many more stories to tell


With forty years of source material to work with, there are plenty of stories to tell in LEGO form.

This doesn’t need to be a recreation of the movies in LEGO form, that’s been done, successfully I might add, in LEGO Dimensions. Admittedly, those add-ons only gave a taster in the form of the original classic and 2016’s reboot, but would it be the right move to remake the movies in a similar vein to Star Wars? Maybe, maybe not.

As a life-long fan of the franchise, I’d definitely be excited to see the full franchise remade in glorious LEGO bricks with a segregated storyline for each movie, it has potential, but let’s take a quick look at LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. Avengers is considered the weakest of the LEGO Marvel games, and one of the least popular in the whole franchise, but why? It’s actually a pretty decent game. Could it be it’s unoriginality, it’s lack of franchise expansion? There’s no certain answer, but it certainly serves as a reminder that giving a movie franchise the Star Wars treatment isn’t certain of success.

On the flip side, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic World, Lord of the Rings, franchises with less movies and expanded media to draw on than Ghostbusters and they did exceptionally well with like for like adaptations. 

Far more than just a four-some


Characters maketh a LEGO game, that varying cast of individuals with different abilities are what make the games so appealing and why the hunt to unlock characters for certain collectibles is such an important part of the replayability. Had I been writing this back in 2015, I feel that this might have been a harder sell.

The two original movies, combined with the huge expansion through the animated show offer us a huge number of characters, that’s for sure, but very few of them are protagonists. We’ve got hundreds of ghosts, ghouls and other-worldly creatures that could be bricked up for a game, as well as some great recurring side-characters, but ultimately our protagonists are Egon, Peter, Ray, and Winston, it’s not a great deal to work with.

The reason Tolkien’s adaptations did so well, even with just two of the Hobbit movies to work with, was the huge cast of good guys with varying models and abilities. Pre-2016 Ghostbusters, just didn’t have that.

That being said, it worked well in LEGO Dimensions, but when you can bring in a cast of characters to accompany the Ghostbusters ranging from Batman to Scooby Doo, it’s a little hard to use that as a great example of character depth.

Luckily, however, it’s 2024, and with the inclusion of the female GB team, Afterlife’s family of Spenglers, as well as Paul Rudd’s Gary Grooberson, and the list grows exponentially.

Whilst we don’t know specifically what Frozen Empire could add to that roster, there are definitely options available in terms of rolling out a varied cast of bricked up characters with the abilities we know and love from TT’s LEGO games.

So good they named it twice


Where Doctor Who has the universe to explore as part of a potentially huge open world, Ghostbusters does suffer a bit with it’s less than diverse locations. Almost the entire franchise is set in New York, but so what?

Yes, the modern LEGO game fan expects bigger and brasher open worlds, but LEGO Marvel Superheroes focused the huge majority of it’s open world experience on a fictionalised version of the same city. It expanded out with a couple of additional areas, and a busters game could do the same thanks in no small part to Afterlife. 

Imagine, however, what they could with New York as an open world with the same technology put into the Skywalker Saga. LEGO Marvel’s offering is a decade old and the city is fairly compact, there’s so much more they could do now.

There are other options as well, other dimensions for example. The animated series, as well as the 2009 videogame introduced otherworldly dimensions to the franchise and, even better, thanks to LEGO Dimensions’ adaptation of the 2016 movie, there’s already a blueprint for a dimension-switching mechanic. The Dimensions story pack introduced a new keystone into the game with the female Ghostbusters that allowed them to transition ghostly dimensions to solve puzzles.

There's love there already

IMG edited

Unlike Doctor Who, LEGO have actually quite a bit of effort into Ghostbusters, with multiple sets released over the last decade, most of which I’m lucky enough to own.

We’ve seen a couple of ecto-1 releases, from the minifigure scale to the glorious collectors build. The reboot movie also saw a LEGO release with car and characters, but the ultimate set to collect, and my favourite LEGO set of all time, the LEGO Ghostbusters Firehouse, it’s beautiful. There’s clearly a love for the franchise at the toy company already.

Much like Doctor Who, as well, we’ve already had a taster of what could be. The original Ghostbusters level pack wonderful bricked up the first movie, giving us some of the classics iconic locations and scenes beautifully rendered in LEGO form. It even included original audio from the movie, not something I’d recommend for a larger scale game, but it worked well.

A franchise renewed, a future of potential

Ghostbusters as a franchise has seen a significant rejuvenation over the past few years, a new generation is being lined up to continue the story, and a new generation of fans are emerging, there is huge potential for success in brick form.

Getting serious on this pipe-dream, however, licensing will always be consideration, adding to that the uncertainty of TT Games future developments, this is unlikely to ever happen.

We can, however, take solace in the fact LEGO Dimensions gave us a taste of something nobody ever saw coming, and it was truly brilliant.

Leave a Reply