The latest game from mobile developer 7 Raven Studios might be familiar to those who frequent the iPhone and Google Play app stores. Ghost Sweeper is a port of a 3 year old puzzle platformer, but does it have the spirit to do well on Switch?
When you name drop Scooby-Doo and Army of Darkness in your brief for the inspiration of your new game it sets expectations rather high and, to be fair, there are some obvious elements here, such as the cute zombies and cartoony visuals in general but Ghost Sweeper is, at heart. a fairly simple puzzle platformer written with mobile platforms in mind and this is fairly obvious from a play-through.
In fact, there is a much more relevant influence here, that of classic puzzle game Solomon’s Key. In that game you needed to work out how to get the key, dodging enemies in the process before finding the door, that sums up the main goal of this game, too. Befitting its mobile roots, there is also a 3 star system in play (of course there is!) and all three stars are achieved by not only getting the key and reaching the door but by finding the treasure item (usually a chest or series of coins) and by completing the level in the very tight time limit, too. These are always far more difficult to achieve and provide some replay value to each level.
You are aided on your mission by the ability to create blocks that enable you to climb, block paths from enemies and cause others to fall. The two different playable characters also have a special weapon fuelled by a limited supply of magic (which can be refilled from a potion bottle hidden somewhere in the level, though this never seems worth going the extra mile to grab). The bucket head character has a ghost vacuum that sucks in some creatures but only for a limited time while the Indiana Jones-alike has a fireball to crisp those ghosts (or stun the more powerful monsters). The latter is a far more useful approach and makes each level that bit easier, but it’s always good to have a choice.
Levels are well thought out with some earlier ones being a cake walk and later levels being a bit more of a brain scratcher to get through (even ignoring the time limit). Unfortunately, the gameplay just doesn’t feel inspired or fresh. It’s not surprising given that this is a 4 year old mobile title based on a set of ideas that first saw the light of day back in the 80s. With that being said, there’s nothing inherently bad about the game, it’s playable and a fun time waster but be in no doubt that it feels like a mobile game with hand drawn graphics and a few rough edges in its presentation and execution.
While the classic idea of creating blocks to reach a goal still holds up and there is some entertainment to be had from Ghost Sweeper, it’s a case of this being a budget mobile game with all that entails.