The ghostly hour of 12 o’clock strikes from the old clock tower—somewhere a mother is saying “nothing good ever happens after midnight!” Our three ghost hunters have their handmade power pistols at the ready, loaded with green goo ammo. It’s time to enter the castle and begin the hunt.
Ghost Blaster is a cooperative memory game in which players explore a 6 x 4 grid of tiles (the castle) in an effort to capture 18 ghosts. As a cooperative game, all players are working together as they uncover new areas of the castle. A unique element of Ghost Blaster’s cooperative gameplay is that players don’t really have a single character they control, they control all characters and can act as any ghost hunter on their turn. When an area is explored, players might run into a ghost or find themselves trapped in a dungeon by the keyhole card.
Players start their turn by rolling a 6-sided die. The die will allow the player to move 1, 2, or 3 spaces in the castle or players will be forced to advance the ghostly hour clock. When players end their movement on a tile, they flip it over. If all three ghost hunters are on three separate but matching tiles they capture the ghosts by launching their “goo missiles” at them and can then mark the tiles with a green goo missile gem. When the hunter moves off a tile that isn’t matching it is flipped back face-down until a ghost hunter occupies that tile again.
Two of the available tiles are keyholes, if a player reveals a keyhole they are sent to the dungeon and can’t be moved until another hunter frees them by meeting them on the dungeon card or moving past them. If at any time all three ghost hunters are trapped in the dungeon the ghosts have outsmarted the hunters and you’ve collectively lost. The game is otherwise ended when all 18 ghosts are captured (you win!) or when the ghost hour is over and the clock points to 12 again (you lose!).
The components of the game are great. The tiles are a nice thick cardboard that would be hard to bend or tear apart. The character markers are made of thick wood (much like the Animal Upon Animal pieces) that can easily be handled by kids. The die is also a good size with rounded edges; most impressively, the pips (or the markers) on each side have a golden shine to them which is a nice decorative touch that also adds a bit of function to the die if you wanted to play in a dimly lit room to set the ghostly mood. The included “goo missile” gems are a bonus also, appropriately colored in a slime green color, adding to the theme.
HABA has proven over and over again that they have a knack for cute and witty games with approachable themes. Ghost Blaster is a fun and lighthearted ghost theme with kid hunters as the good guys. Kids will love relating to the kid-sized heroes and have a “blast” vanquishing the ghosts. I feel a game like this is also great for adults to join in on the fun with the kids. It might not be the most engaging game for an adult-only crowd, but sprinkle in an adult or two with their kids and there is plenty of fun to be had. Ghost Blaster can also support solo play. Of course there is more to learn from the cooperative element of working with a team and discussing strategy but having a solo option is always nice for those rainy days.
Ghost Blaster is not only an entertainingly-themed game but can be a great introduction to cooperative and teamwork gaming. The memory aspect of the game is challenging enough for a 5–10 year old but anyone over 10 might not feel the challenge. Overall, the game is fun, challenging in the right age group, and can be a kick-start to building important gaming skills and fostering the value of teamwork and cooperation.