Ghost in the Shell (video game)

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Ghost in the Shell
Ghost in the Shell Coverart.png
North American box art
Developer(s) Exact
Publisher(s)
Director(s) Kenji Sawaguchi
Producer(s) Tetsuji Yamamoto
Designer(s) Masamune Shirow
Writer(s) Hiroyuki Kitakubo
Series Ghost in the Shell
Platform(s) PlayStation
Release date(s)
  • JP July 17, 1997
  • NA October 31, 1997
  • EU July 1, 1998
Genre(s) Action, third-person shooter
Mode(s) Single-player
Distribution CD-ROM

Ghost in the Shell[ja 1] is a cyberpunk-themed third-person shooter video game developed by Exact and Production I.G for the PlayStation, relying on the same cast from the original film for the English voice acting. The game was first released in July 1997, along with soundtrack albums, an artbook and a guidebook.

The game's story and art design were written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow, the author of the original manga. Ghost in the Shell's plot revolves around a recruit of Public Security Section 9 as he investigates and combats the Human Liberation Front. The player controls a Fuchikoma, a robotic fighting vehicle capable of traversing walls and ceilings.

The game received mainly positive reviews for its graphics, animation, music and unusual wall-climbing mechanics, as well as living up to the name of the series. However, it received criticism for its tedious and repetitive gameplay and low difficulty. Fifteen years after its release, Game Informer listed Ghost in the Shell as one of the best manga and anime-based games.

Gameplay[edit]

The player's Fuchikoma robot scaling a skyscraper and attacking an enemy

The player controls a spider-shaped think tank robot, known as Fuchikoma, that is able to jump, thrust forward, strafe to the side, climb walls, and hang upside-down from ceilings.[1][2] The camera auto-adjusts its position when scaling walls and ceilings for easy maneuvering,[1] and automatically switches between first and third-person perspectives depending on the environment, although the player can stay in first-person view at will.[3]

The Fuchikoma is equipped with twin machine guns and missiles. Both weapons have unlimited ammunition, however only a set of missiles can be launched at once until they recharge. Grenades can be found throughout missions and a maximum of three can be carried at a time.[1] The game includes enemies that vary from human to robots and sport an array of firearms and explosives.[4] Some stages of the game are governed by a time limit.[5] Several cutscenes can be unlocked throughout the game depending on the player's score for each mission.[6] Once unlocked, the cutscenes can be reviewed on the main menu.[7]

The game contains six training stages to introduce players to the controls and basic game elements. The first five of the training stages introduce the player to targets in various settings and using the controls effectively with the sixth being a battle against another Fuchikoma.[2] The twelve missions that comprise the story take place in different environments including a warehouse complex, a sewer, a boat on the sea, the city streets, and the enemy base inside of a skyscraper.[4][6] The missions display a variety of gameplay objectives; the first mission is a raid and the third level is a search and destroy mission that involves the elimination of red barrels. The fourth level is a sea chase on a boat and the fifth level is a game of hide-and-seek with the player having to locate a boss with thermoptical camouflage. The game's final boss ends with a freefall battle down a skyscraper under a timer.[2]

Plot[edit]

The plot follows the members of Public Security Section 9 mainly consisting of Major Motoko Kusanagi, Chief Aramaki, Batou, Togusa, Ishikawa, and a nameless male, the Rookie, controlled by the player. The game's story is told using mission briefings and animated cutscenes.

After the terrorist organization known as the Human Liberation Front claims responsibility for blowing up the Megatech Corporation building, Section 9 are sent to resolve the situation. Section 9 are able to trace their communication and locate their location at the Bay area, however is a trap. Chief Aramaki then announces that they have identified the leader of the Human Liberation Front being a mercenary known as Zebra 27. Ishikawa however discovered that someone in the Energy Ministry was interested in files relating to Zebra 27 and made further investigation.

After another completed mission, Aramaki discovers the Human Liberation Front's secret base by following their supply line along with their intentions of using a nuclear reactor. Ishikawa informs Aramaki that an official of the Energy Ministry known as Sawamura has been in contact with Zebra 27 and that he also had connections to Megatech Body Corporation. While conducting the raid on the enemy's base, the nuclear reactor begins to overload. Squad leader Motoko Kusanagi attempts to stop its protective barrier as the rest of Section 9 search for the buildings control room in efforts to shutting down the reactor. After reaching the control room and disarming the nuclear reactor, Kusanagi locates Zebra 27 on top of the tower. Batou, Togusa and the Rookie traverse to the top, however Batou and Togusa encounter obstacles that prevent them from moving forward, leaving the Rookie as the only available member. Once he reaches the top, he encounters Zebra 27 and engages him in which leads to a free fall battle off of the Tower and manages to defeat him.

After the ordeal, it is revealed that Sawamura planned to collect bribes from Megatech in exchange to covering up the nuclear reactor's defects. The nuclear reactor was intended to explode in order to appear like a terrorist attack, however Zebra 27 intervened and wanted to take over the nuclear reactor to extort money from Sawamura. Kusanagi declares the entire ordeal a training mission for the Rookie, but criticizes his over-dependency on the Fuchikoma.

Development[edit]

The game was in development for one and a half years, and involved the work of several divisions, being Kenji Sawaguchi and Tetsuji Yamamoto the total director and producer respectively. The programming was done by Exact, known for the Jumping Flash! series.[2][8] Ghost in the Shell was designed and targeted to a mature audience. Developers did not make Motoko playable to prevent the game appearing to be a character-based game. The story was provided by the original manga's creator Masamune Shirow. Shirow was also the main designer of the characters and mechas for the game along with other artists.[9][8]

At Production I.G, Hiroyuki Kitakubo directed the animation and did the storyboards, and Toshihiro Kawamoto was animation supervisor as well as the in-game character designer.[9][10] Production I.G had adopted a full digital coloring technique for the game considered to be groundbreaking in the industry.[10] The difference in the scenes when compared to the Ghost in the Shell film stemmed from this difference and the new director.[8]

The game's animated scenes are a combination of cel animation and three dimensional digital renderings. Masamune Shirow's character and mechanical designs of the Ghost in the Shell were the basis for the game's look and feel. The storyboards consisting of camera shots and movement became the groundwork for the animation. The cel animation consisted of numerous individual cel layers that were combined to create the scene digitally. The backgrounds were digitally rendered in three dimensions to ensure smooth transitions throughout scenes for the camera movement. The three dimensional computer backgrounds were merged with the two dimensional cel animation to complete the scene. Adobe Photoshop was used to complete the animation and add additional details to the scenes.[11]

The voicing for the Japanese version of the game was done by a different cast than the film, with Motoko Kusanagi being played by Hiromi Tsuru, Batou by Shinji Ogawa, Chief Aramaki by Soichi Ito, Ishikawa by Kiyoshi Kobayashi, Togusa by Hirotaka Suzuoki, Saito by Nobuyuki Hiyama, and the Fuchikoma were voiced by Katsue Miwa.[9] The English localization does not credit the voice actors to their respective roles, but the same cast was used for the original movie.[2][8] Motoko was voiced by Mimi Woods, Batou by Richard Epcar, Aramaki by William Frederick, Ishikawa by Bob Papenbrook, and Togusa was played by Christopher Joyce with the roles of Wendee Lee, Jimmy Krakor, Julie Maddalena being unknown.[2]

Release and promotion[edit]

The game was originally released in Japan by Sony Computer Entertainment Japan on July 17, 1997. On the day of its release, a special launch party was held at the Yebisu Garden Hall. The "Megatech Body Night" event featured the game's music artists such as Takkyu Ishino and Joey Beltram performing live. All who bought tickets also received a 3D papercraft kit of the Fuchikoma.[12] A Japanese demo disc for the PlayStation was also released.[13]

A special demo disc was included with the first edition of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, which featured the game on its cover.[14] The game was released in North America by THQ on October 31, 1997, and in Europe by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe on July 1, 1998.[4][6] Don Nauert, THQ's producer for the English localization of the game, said that aside from dubbing and changing the button configuration, the game was not modified nor censored.[8]

Soundtrack[edit]

Ghost in the Shell:
Megatech Body
Studio album
Released
July 17, 1997
Genre Video game soundtrack, techno
Length Megatech Body CD.
1:03:25
Megatech Body CD., Ltd.
2:03:59
Megatech Vinyl. Ltd.
1:00:30
Label
Producer Takkyū Ishino

A series of soundtrack albums for the game, titled Ghost in the Shell: Megatech Body[ja 2], were released on July 17, 1997, by Sony Music Entertainment Japan in several versions. The album, named after the fictional cybernetic body manufacturer in the Ghost in the Shell series, was produced by Takkyū Ishino and features tracks composed by various techno music artists. Some artists were already fans of the series and enthusiastic to composing the music for the game.[15]

The first version, Ghost in the Shell: Megatech Body CD., is a standard single-disc edition. The second is a limited edition titled Ghost in the Shell: Megatech Body CD., Ltd. and contains an additional second disc and poster. The third is also a limited two-disc vinyl LP record edition, titled Megatech Vinyl. Ltd..[15]

Track listing[edit]

Related media[edit]

An artbook titled Ghost in the Shell Official Art Book[ja 3] was published by Kodansha on July 4, 1997. It contains concept designs, scenes and commentary on Ghost in the Shell.[16] Two guidebooks were also published by Kodansha. The first one, Ghost in the Shell: Basic File[ja 4], was released on July 17, 1997.[17] The second one, Ghost in the Shell: Master File[ja 5], was released on August 29, 1997.[18] A video titled Making of Game Ghost in the Shell All of Digital Animation Video[ja 6], featuring interviews with game developers was released by Kodansha on April 22, 1998, on VHS/Laserdisc and on April 25, 1998, on DVD.[19][20]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 78.50%[21]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 4/5 stars[24]
Computer and Video Games 3/5[3]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 7.25[25]
Famitsu 76.50[22]
GameFan 87.3[23]
GameSpot 7.3/10[6]
IGN 8/10[5]
Next Generation 3/5 stars[26]

Ghost in the Shell received mostly positive reviews, gaining an aggregate rating of 78.50% at GameRankings.[21] AllGame gave the game 4 out of 5 stars, praising the graphics, sound and gameplay; the review stated, "Even with plenty of eye candy and strong audio, a game is nothing without actually being fun to play and as you've probably guessed, Ghost in the Shell supplies the fun, whether you're familiar with the license or not."[24] GameSpot rated the game a 7.3 out of 10, praising the game's controls as "simple... most people will take to them like a fish to water" and praising the animation sequences.[6] GameFan gave the game three scores: 88, 88, and 86 from three different reviewers, who also cited the game's unique wall-scaling mechanics and noted how it lives up to the name of the Ghost in the Shell series.[23] IGN said that the game was faithful to its manga counterpart, stating that "the game mimics its manga counterpart well, and the techno music, including tracks from artists like Derrick May and Hardfloor, is superb," but adding that "the levels aren't incredibly difficult, and don't really encourage replay."[5] Super GamePower gave the game a 4 out of 5 praising the animation and stating it is better than of the original film adaptation.[27] Velikij Drakon gave the game 5 out of 5 praising the mechanics and animation.[7] NowGamer praised the gameplay mechanics of the game however criticized the option to unlock, stating, "The tremendous feeling of agility you get from Ghost In The Shell and the slick weapons is where the fun comes from. But it’s a tough game and playing for more scenes of new footage will not be compelling enough for a country in which anime is a cult industry and not a national fixation."[4]

GamePro praised the cutscenes but criticized the game's quality, stating, "The cinemas at the opening of the game and between each level are stunning; however, the game graphics, particularly the buildings and enemies, [are] lackluster at best. The sound effects are bland, and there are no power-ups to be found. Put that all together and you get a very generic video game."[28] Next Generation rated it three stars out of five and criticized the game for being tedious, but recognized that it is still an enjoyable game.[26] Computer & Video Games gave Ghost in the Shell a score of 3 out of 5 and offered a similar criticism, declaring that "it was too repetitive to become anything more than a good game."[3] Edge gave the game 7 out of 10, criticizing the gameplay features such camera control and boss difficulty.[29] Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the game four scores: 7.5, 7.5, 7.5, and 6.5 from four individual reviews, who mainly criticized the game for its easy bosses and its repetitive and short gameplay value.[25]

In 2013, Game Informer listed Ghost in the Shell as one of the best anime and manga-based games released in English.[30] It also received praise for being able to break away from other games adapted from movies and being original despite being based upon the manga and movie.[31]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Japanese: 攻殻機動隊 GHOST IN THE SHELL Hepburn: Kōkaku Kidōtai GHOST IN THE SHELL?, "Mobile Armored Riot Police—Ghost in the Shell"
  2. ^ 攻殻機動隊有機肉威感 Kōkaku Kidōtai Yūki Niku I Kan?
  3. ^ 攻殻機動隊 OFFICIAL ART BOOK Kōkaku Kidōtai OFFICIAL ART BOOK?
  4. ^ 攻殻機動隊 GHOST IN THE SHELL 上巻 ベーシックファイル Kōkaku Kidōtai GHOST IN THE SHELL Jōkan Bēshikku Fairu?
  5. ^ 攻殻機動隊 GHOST IN THE SHELL 下巻 マスターファイル Kōkaku Kidōtai GHOST IN THE SHELL Gekan Masutā Fairu?
  6. ^ MAKING OF GAME 攻殻機動隊デジタルアニメーションのすべて ビデオ?

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Ghost in the Shell Preview". GameFan Magazine 5 (9): 35. September 1997. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Ghost in the Shell (CD). Exact, Production I.G. 1997. 
  3. ^ a b c Key, Steve (August 1998). "Ghost in the Shell". Computer and Video Games (201): 59. ISSN 0261-3697. 
  4. ^ a b c d Nicholson, Gray (1998-07-01). "Ghost in the Shell". Imagine Publishing. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  5. ^ a b c Douglas, Adam (1997-12-01). "Ghost in the Shell". IGN. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Fielder, Joe (1997-12-10). "Ghost in the Shell". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 2009-12-29. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  7. ^ a b Agent Kuper (1997-10-18). "PlayStation - Ghost in the Shell". Velikij Drakon (in Russian) (35): 10, 11. ISSN 0868-5967. Retrieved 2014-09-07. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Maruyama, Wataru (October 1997). "Ghost in the Shell". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine 1 (1): 108–114. 
  9. ^ a b c "STAFF & CAST". Production I.G. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-09-03. 
  10. ^ a b "Ghost in the Shell". Production I.G. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-04-22. 
  11. ^ Making of Game Ghost in the Shell All of Digital Animation Video (MAKING OF GAME 攻殻機動隊デジタルアニメーションのすべて ビデオ) (VHS). Kodansha. 1998. 
  12. ^ "Megatech Body Night" (in Japanese). Sony Music Entertainment Japan. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  13. ^ Ghost in the Shell Playstation Demo Disc (PAPX-90020) (CD). PlayStation. 
  14. ^ Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine 1 (1). October 1997. 
  15. ^ a b "Ghost in the Shell Megatech Body" (in Japanese). Sony Music Entertainment Japan. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2012-10-25. 
  16. ^ "攻殻機動隊 OFFICIAL ART BOOK" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  17. ^ "攻殻機動隊 GHOST IN THE SHELL 上巻 ベーシックファイル" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  18. ^ "攻殻機動隊 GHOST IN THE SHELL 下巻 マスターファイル" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  19. ^ "MAKING OF GAME 攻殻機動隊デジタルアニメーションのすべて ビデオ" (in Japanese). Kodansha. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  20. ^ "MAKING OF GAME 攻殻機動隊GHOST IN THE SHELL デジタルアニメー ションのすべて【DVD未発売】" (in Japanese). Buyuru. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-04-19. 
  21. ^ a b "Ghost in the Shell for PlayStation". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-08-16. 
  22. ^ "攻殻機動隊 GHOST IN THE SHELL". Famitsu. Retrieved 2012-11-30. 
  23. ^ a b "Reviews". GameFan Magazine 5 (10): 22. October 1997. 
  24. ^ a b Smith, Geoffrey Douglas. "Ghost in the Shell - Review". AllGame. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  25. ^ a b "Ghost in the Shell". Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine (103). February 1998. 
  26. ^ a b "Ghost in the Shell". Next Generation Magazine (35). November 1997. 
  27. ^ Kamikaze, Marcelo (October 1997). "P.Station: Ghost in the Shell". Super GamePower (in Portuguese) (43): 28. ISSN 0104-611X. 
  28. ^ Full-on Ferret. "Ghost in the Shell". GamePro Magazine (November 1997): 150. 
  29. ^ "Ghost in the Shell". Edge Magazine (October 1997): 93. 
  30. ^ Garcia, Louis (2013-03-20). "The Best Manga And Anime-based Games". Game Informer. GameStop. Archived from the original on 2013-11-13. Retrieved 2013-07-06. 
  31. ^ "'Ghost in the Shell' Escapes Movie Curse". The Herald News. HighBeam Research. 1998-02-09. Archived from the original on 2013-05-18. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 

External links[edit]