Thanks to Matt Glanville for the review code
Title: Ghost Grab 3000
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 07/03/2020
Ghost Grab has a rather interesting look to it, looking as if it’s hand-drawn to an extent, with wobbly outlines, goofy enemies, and an overall feel that I can’t quite pinpoint. It looks really good in motion, and said outlines do a lot to contribute to that aspect, and it gets the job done.
The music was the real surprising treat here, being a really stunning chiptune soundtrack. While I’ve lamented about chiptunes before, especially in games that don’t have a pixel artstyle, this score is just excellent, with a theme for each of the three difficulty levels, and all of them are great! The biggest challenge for songs in an arcade-inspired game is to make a song that can loop for minutes on end without being grating, and thankfully Ghost Grab accomplishes that challenge with flying colors.
Ghost Grab is a score chaser with a basic premise tasking the player to clear out each wave of enemies by using their trusty plasma beam to send them back into the ether. You control this drone of sorts, and along with your beam you also have the ability to dash around the screen, (which quickly drains your beam’s battery power) unleash EMP attacks that stun nearly ghosts and erase their projectiles, and the emergency ability to unleash a nuclear bomb that vaporizes every enemy on screen. While EMP pickups are fairly frequent, Nuclear Weapons are pretty rare and usually only offered at the end of each wave in place of an upgrade, so these screen clears should only be used in absolute dire situations.
The game’s flow starts off gradual, with three stages representing three different difficulty levels, and each requires that you clear the previous on a certain wave in order to unlock it. The easy stage has slower enemies, but lower point values, while the harder stages increase the tension but also make for more rewarding point bonuses. You see, while you can beam and destroy each ghost individually if you so please, Ghost Grab’s main scoring mechanics come from how many enemies you can “tag” with your beam in one go, as any enemy that comes in contact with your beam will be added to the list of enemies that you can destroy with the press of the B button.
So if you manage to wait around long enough, and dodge all the enemies and their attacks, you could even get an entire wave of 12, 20, or even 30 foes chained all at once, which can lead to incredibly satisfying combos and point bonuses. However, such rewards come with a great risk, and you do have a health bar to keep mind of as you play. You start off with only being able to take three hits before you die, and you can heal after every wave in place of an upgrade if you so desire. But on the other hand, you may want to get one of those upgrades, since they can extend the width and length of your beam, the distance of your EMP attacks, or your drone speed. While these are temporary upgrades for the run, you do have some permanent ones available as well, via an in-game shop.
Enemies can drop coins upon death, and these coins can then be redeemed within a shop, where you can buy customization modules for your drone. From better defenses, faster speed, more starting EMP attacks, to even some tradeoffs such as less health in exchange for a longer beam, there are several options to choose from, although a couple of these are locked behind some of the in-game achievements, but those aren’t too tough to unlock. But once you find a loadout that works for you, the game gets a very good rhythm going, as the intense arcade action motivates the player to push some risks forward, and try to clear bigger and bigger chains for more points. The fact most of the achievements encourage you to make such risks and score big add credence to this aspect, and thankfully, this even has online ledaerboards to further encourage such competition, something which Switch n Shoot did not offer.
Once I unlocked the hardest stage, I mostly stuck to that for score chasing due to the more exciting waves of enemies, alongside that option being the easiest way to get more coins for upgrades. However, outside of beating your scores and having a blast with the gameplay loop, there isn’t much else to do in Ghost Grab outside of just having some addictive fun. While the in-game achievements add a bit of replay value, they’re rather basic, and overall I found myself seeing most of what the game had to offer in just around 50 minutes. It was an excellent 50 minutes, but definitely one to note for those hoping for a longer unlocking experience.
In conclusion, Ghost Grab 3000 is a pretty damn fun scorechaser, from the mind behind the excellent Switch n Shoot. While I prefer that game a tad more over this, Ghost Grab is still a super engaging game with fun score mechanics and a bit more replay value thanks to an upgrade shop, online leaderboards, and in-game achievements. You may very well see everything this game has to offer in around an hour if the game gels with you and you get good at it, but the payoff for big chains is just oh so satisfying, and this easily scratches the arcade itch way more than a bunch of the other games I’ve covered lately that tried doing the same sort of tribute. Two for two in terms of good retro arcade throwbacks isn’t bad, and hopefully this encourages Matt to keep up the great work, as I’m definitely excited to see what other ideas he has up his sleeve.
I give Ghost Grab 3000 a 7 out of 10.