E3: Ghostbusters: Puzzle Fighter Takes On the Entire Ghostbusters Canon And Gets “Carried Away” Sexism

From Cap Blackard Of Nerdy Show, for Bleeding Cool,

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We were surprised to see a new Ghostbusters game on display at E3 this year – Ghostbusters: Puzzle Fighter. It’s a mobile title from Capcom-owned developer Beeline that combines match three puzzle games (like the Capcom classic Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo) with collectible card games and RPG elements. A super-strange combo for sure, but what caught my eye was the game’s use of Ghostbusters characters from all across the series’ transmedia canon. There’s ghosts from The Real Ghostbusters, characters such as Tiamat and Ron Alexander from Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening’s Ghostbusters series from IDW (widely considered to be official canon to the films), as well as characters from Ghostbusters comics pre-dating the Burnham/Schoening run.

Earlier this year, a similar cross-canonical project manifested in the form of Ghostbusters: The Board Gamea massively successful Kickstarter from Cryptozoic Entertainment, which Burnham and Shoening were directly involved with. Puzzle Fighter on the other hand was completely under my radar. The game has an interesting mechanic wherein the puzzle battles are three-on-three character matches – each character has special status-altering powers. Each puzzle block type represents a different power. Clear enough blocks, power up your characters, smash the ghosts, and collect more character cards to build your roster. The game has a lot of moving parts, but I could see it making quick sense once you get to playing it.

I mentioned Puzzle Fighter to Erik Burnham and he was completely unaware of it; even though it heavily features characters he created. Not overly surprising since anything officially bearing the Ghostbusters name belongs to Sony. What was surprising was the game’s sordid history which I became aware of while sourcing pictures for this article. Puzzle Fighter had a soft release in Canadian app markets earlier this year and is expected to hit the US later this summer. However, the version I saw at E3 isn’t the version they’d originally released. The game incorporates the Ghostbusters’ extensive roster of female characters: Janine, Kylie, even obscure comics character Rachel Unglighter. In the original version every female character was preposterously hyper-sexualized. Seen below is their original Janine alongside a comparison shot of the previous Rachel and the current Rachel (a photo taken from a trailer shown at E3 that hasn’t yet hit the web).

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Especially considering the source material, it’s insane that this was in any way deemed acceptable. Just prior to releasing the game in Canada, Capcom released a statementsaying, “we will be revising the character art with more modest Ghostbusting appropriate attire.” Because, you know, the only thing wrong with their portrayal of the characters was that they were too “immodest”. In an interview from the E3 floor, Beeline subsequently offered the excuse that they “got carried away” doing a game for an older audience since they normally work on family friendly games. The current build of the game has totally respectable illustrations of the characters and yet dialing back the objectified art didn’t stop them from being the only presenters we saw at this year’s E3 with sexed-up booth babes. Suffice it to say the trajectory of this project (and company) is still dubious.

About Rich Johnston

Chief writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. Father of two. Comic book clairvoyant. Political cartoonist.