The times, they are a-changing. 15 years ago, consoles could only hope to capture the essence of high-octane arcade games, not the look. Technology for the biggest releases of the era far out-stripped what the home systems could achieve.
Then the shift occurred; Namco's Time Crisis squeezed onto Sony's original PlayStation with only a few jagged edges marking the transfer. We soon entered into a world where videogaming at home matched and even outstripped what was occurring in amusement arcades around the country. By the time Sega's Ghost Squad burst onto the scene in 2004, it found most of its comrades dead or dying. But sometimes what goes around, comes around. Retooled and reloaded, Ghost Squad redeploys to the Wii via legendary Sega studio AM2 (also responsible for Outrun and Virtua Fighter).
That said, what amounted to an excellent ten-minute adrenaline shot in the arcades doesn't necessarily translate as prime home console material.
However, Sega has realised in the last few years that gamers want more. Crazy Taxi on the GameCube stuck in another city on top of the arcade port, while both Outrun and Virtua Fighter added extensive single player quest and mini-game modes. And so it is with Ghost Squad.
The developer has created what is in essence a director's cut of the original, applying new modes, paths and customisation options that wouldn't be possible in arcades before. Ghost Squad has found a proper home at last.
The game is divided into three parts, Story, Training and Party. The Story is lifted directly from the arcade version and is split into three scenarios. The first is a hostage situation as you storm a mountainside villa, the second a rescue mission as Air Force One is captured by terrorists, and the third a rescue and extraction mission through a jungle. Each ends in a grandiose boss fight.
It's good fun, but an entire run through will weigh in at just half an hour. However, a post-mission statistical screen flags up an in-game map. It's here that you notice a number of branching points in each operation, along with several route markers adorned with a question mark. At points during each scenario you're given a choice of three routes but, more interestingly, every time you successfully complete a mission, new routes and encounters unlock.
Headshots and quick fire take downs contribute to an accumulating score counter. The higher the score, the more items, from costumes to weapons, are made available for the next run through. Armour protects you from more shots, while higher-class weapons are more efficient at taking down foes. It all enrols Ghost Squad into that rarest of classes; the 'massively replayable' school.
The Party mode allows three other players to join in the fun, while the training mode creates three different scenarios (see above) to master and outscore your friends. Oh, and you can upload your scores onto online Leaderboards thanks to the Wi-Fi connection.
So it's got the look, it's got the feel (the Wii Zapper does a fine job), but most importantly, it's loaded with essential extras. It makes this one of the longest-lasting arcade experiences we've come across. It's like having the arcade at home. If you want, cut a hole in a cereal box and slip a quid every time you need to continue to complete the experience. All in all, it's better than the real thing.