Published on June 17th, 2013 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor
Games That Could Have Been Great: Episode VI – Geist
Release Date: August 15, 2005
Genre: First-person action-adventure
The Nintendo GameCube was a very strange console. From the system itself (it had a handle?) to the somewhat odd controller, the GameCube was a third wheel behind the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. What’s strange is the fact that it was the last time Nintendo had a graphically superior system to the competition. However, it wasn’t that easy to work on so only first party games got to show their graphical prowess. Then came along a strange game called Geist. Developed by n-Space, Geist was a game that showed a lot of promise and could have easily been great, but a few flaws along the way deemed the game to just a cult fan base.
What it did Right:
Geist has a long and somewhat complex story, but to sum it up for our purposes an evil scientist shoots you, and sucks your soul from your body with a new invention. Another soul person, a small girl, allows you to be somewhat free, and now you are a spirit wandering in the current world trying to extract revenge. It sounds a bit cheesy, but it manages to play out better then it sounds and actually gets you somewhat emotionally involved in the story with the proper twists and turns. That’s not the games real focal point though. Where the game shines is the game play.
As a spirit, you are able to possess people, objects, and even animals in order to progress through the game. While presented in the typical first person shooter perspective, the game is more in vain of a first person adventure such as the classic Metroid Prime. In order to possess someone or an animal, you have to use an inanimate object to scare the living object. For example, at one point you are in a room with a dog and a security guard, and you need to possess the guard to get out of the room. So, you take control of the dogs food bowl (yes, the food bowl), make it shake and fall over in front of him, which scares him. Then you take possession of the dog to scare the guard, then you can take over as the guard and progress through the game. It’s a puzzle and it really was totally different to everything else that was out at the time, because while it was half a first person shooter, it was also a puzzle/adventure game too. It leads to some very entertaining moments that will probably never be replicated again in a game. Also, while playing as a guard the gun play is solid, bosses are big and interesting, and there is even local multiplayer. So what’s the problem then?
What it did Wrong:
As ambitious and cool as the “possession” system was, it wasn’t perfect. You always had to go in a pattern for the more complex ones, which felt like it limited the game. Whether that was a result of trying to get the game out (it was a frequently delayed game) or a hardware limitation, it did streamline the game a little too much for most peoples liking.
Probably the most disappointing thing about Geist was the graphics. On a system as strong as the GameCube, Geist looked like a rushed and unpolished title. Muddy, somewhat bland, and once again, rushed graphics marred the game experience for a lot of people. Couple that with the NTSC version having strange glitches and bugs, it was clear that n-Space needed to get the game out quickly and the final product had to suffer because of that. What could have been the biggest exclusive title for the GameCube was instead regulated to obscurity by the gaming press.
Truth be told, I actually love Geist. I loved the originality, I loved the premise, I loved everything about it. I was able to look past the flaws, but many people, including reviewers, could not. Due to that, the game flopped with low sales and quickly found its way to the bargain bin, which is a shame. Although Nintendo owns the property, we will probably never see a sequel or expansion upon this good game that with more a little more polish could have been great.