The world has faced an apocalypse and mankind is no more, with just the ghosts of humanity left lingering the remnants of this charred world. Sounds like the premise for a grim post-apocalyptic movie or something, right? Well, it’s actually the tale behind Ghost Grab 3000: the charming and enjoyable endless shoot ‘em up from developer Matt Glanville that sees players chasing scores by trapping some cute looking ghosts in energy beams.
Ghost Grab 3000 is a simple score-chasing arcade game where the goal is to catch ghosts with your grapple beam and try to chain as many as possible in one combo in order to achieve the highest possible score. Each variety of ghost brings with them a different point value, but they’re also out to get you too – you can expect all sorts of streams of bullets coming your way, as well as ghosts of different shapes and sizes that aren’t afraid to launch themselves in your direction in a bid to rob you of your lives. Thankfully, you’re a nimble little thing and can boost your way around each arena with ease, whilst the grapple beam that clings to the ghosts you’re holding captive can absorb incoming bullets too.
Your actions in-game are tied to your power meter, which is used up whenever you pop chains of ghosts that you’ve captured or use your boost ability (which also makes you temporarily invulnerable). This means it’s counter-productive to just pop ghosts one at a time or in small groups, with it draining your energy faster and often leaving you in vulnerable positions. Fortunately, popped ghosts will often leave behind some battery to charge your meter whilst you’ll also refill it by simply absorbing the bullets that are shot your way, so you shouldn’t find yourself without power for too long if you play efficiently.
You can also use an EMP blast which will launch enemies away from you and clear any bullets that are in your vicinity, which can be a HUGE help when tackling Ghost Grab 3000’s later waves. Again, EMP charges are dropped by the ghosts you pop so you can keep yourself stocked up, though a carry limit of nine does mean that you can’t hit EMPs constantly to keep enemies and bullets off your back.
Find yourself surrounded by ghosts and bullets with no hope of escaping? Activate one of your nukes, which completely clears the arena of ghosts and bullets in one satisfyingly destructive explosion. Nukes are a little bit rarer to come across and aren’t actually dropped by ghosts in-game, but their use can be vital to your survival during the game’s trickier moments.
After clearing a wave of ghosts, players are given the choice of three different power-ups that they can use to help them out in the subsequent waves: a faster speed, a wider beam, or a stronger EMP. Alternatively, you’ll also be able to grab yourself another nuke or an extra life instead, though I’d always recommend going for a power-up where possible – especially since the later waves can be so hectic and fill the screen with ghosts and bullets, meaning you’ll need every advantage that you can get. I often found myself prioritising speed upgrades at first and then the power of my EMP, but there’s no right or wrong way to approach it: you just have to use what works for you.
That’s actually one of my favourite things about Ghost Grab 3000.Whilst it is simple in design, there’s enough depth on offer that players can approach the fast-paced gameplay however they like. Some players may find themselves focusing on survival and picking off ghosts in small bunches so they can take less risks at the expense of their score, some might try to grab every ghost around them in one high-scoring chain so will want to power up their speed, whilst others might just wing it and EMP everything around them whilst hoping for the best – the core mechanics of the game are simple, but there’s an impressive amount of depth to be found beneath it all.
Alternatively, players can use the coins they earn in-game to purchase different modifiers in the ‘Robot Shop’, with each changing up your stats in a variety of ways. There are pros and cons to each mod though, and you’ll often have to make sacrifices in one of your attributes in order to improve another. Again though, this allows you to cater the titular Ghost Grabber for your playstyle and adds an extra level of player customisation to the experience.
With things like the aforementioned nukes, EMPs, power-ups, and the use of boost tying into your strategy though, there’s definitely a feeling of ‘easy to play, difficult to master’ to be associated with Ghost Grab 3000. I’ve put a good few hours into the game myself, and even now I’m finding all new ways to approach the action and learning new tricks to try and increase my score. It’s so cool to weave in and out of ghosts as your chain slowly builds up though and there’s a real buzz to be had when you pop them all in one satisfying bang to completely clear a wave… it’s good stuff.
Whilst the gameplay of Ghost Grab 3000 is simple, the strategic elements and diversity in play styles that it offers ensure that you’ll get hooked in for some time – it makes for a really addictive and fun gameplay experience where the phrase ‘one more go’ will repeat over and over in your head as you get hooked in for hours on end. Don’t get me wrong, the earlier waves can feel a little bit easy and do grow repetitive over time, but as soon as the screen starts filling up with both ghosts and bullets, you know you’re in for a frantic and wild time.
I do wish that there was a little bit more to work towards to keep me playing though, with my main incentive simply being to work my way up the global leaderboard. Ghost Grab 3000 does have achievements to unlock (one of which had a neat little reference to a Catch 22 song, which is always a plus in my eyes) and it will take some time before you can afford all of the mods, but for the most part you’ll simply be chasing scores and just trying to get ahead of the players who are above you on the leaderboard. Some additional challenges or unlockables wouldn’t have gone amiss and would have added an extra element of progression to the experience.
It’s hard to complain too much though, especially since the game is so much fun to play anyway and it’s available for a very low price. You’re definitely getting plenty of bang for your buck with Ghost Grab 3000 and I can guarantee it’ll keep score-chasing enthusiasts playing for a good while. It’s also worth mentioning that the game has got a banging chiptune soundtrack too, whilst the colourful and clean visuals really compliment the arcade-style gameplay.
Ghost Grab 3000 offers a frantic score-chasing experience that’s super addictive, a whole lot of fun, and deceptively strategic. Whilst the core gameplay mechanics are simple in design, there are plenty of different ways to approach the game to keep players hooked in for some time – chasing the scores is satisfying too, especially when you find yourself sitting on the top of the leaderboard (although in my experience so far I’m never up there for too long…)
With its low price-point and its charmingly rewarding gameplay, Ghost Grab 3000 is another neat indie gem that Nintendo Switch owners will definitely want to check out.
Developer: Matt Glanville
Publisher: Matt Glanville
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PC
Click here to check Ghost Grab 3000 out on the Nintendo eShop.