Following the trailer for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed (2022), Ghostbusters fans (more commonly known as Ghostheads) are now wondering whether or not the upcoming video game is a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021). Looking for an answer? In the famous words of Janine, we got one!
The first thing we need to address is the fact that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a sequel to the original two Ghostbusters movies - Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989). The 2016 reboot Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016) is in no way related to those movies or the upcoming game.
Related: Ghostbusters Afterlife Ending Explained
Now that we've cleared up any confusion you might have had there (these things happen with most franchises), let's get down to business. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is the long-awaited "threequel" to the original 1984 film, and introduces many new faces to the franchise.
Among the new cast are McKenna Grace (Phoebe), Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), Lucky (Celeste O'Conner), and Podcast (Logan Kim). However, the film also invites original cast members, which include Bill Murray (Peter Venkman), Dan Aykroyd (Ray Stantz), and Ernie Hudson (Winston Zeddemore).
Related: Is Ghostbusters The Video Game a Sequel?
Sadly, Harold Ramis is of course absent, as he passed away back in 2014. However, the character of Egon Spengler is honored from start to finish, and we even get to see a cameo of him in the form of a ghost. It's fair to say that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a passing the torch sequel.
This concept has been used before, namely in the hugely underrated animated show Extreme Ghostbusters (1997), which sees Egon Spengler leading a new team against the paranormal, which includes fan-favorite Kylie Griffin. And now, it's set to happen again, but we're not talking about Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
Related: Will There Be a Ghostbusters 4?
While the 2021 sequel does indeed take the reins from the original Ghostbusters, we wouldn't be surprised if Phoebe, Trevor, Lucky, and Podcast don't return for a sequel. And this is mostly because Ghostbusters: Afterlife is more focused on telling a story than it is on establishing a new team.
The upcoming video game, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, however, does have a new team, which again, in classic Ghostbusters symmetry, has four members. Details on these characters are yet to be revealed, but we do know that they will be mentored and led by Winston Zeddemore.
Related: Dan Aykroyd and Ernie Hudson Return in the First Official Trailer for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed
As revealed in the trailer, Ernie Hudson will be reprising his role as the character, while Dan Aykroyd will also be returning as Ray Stantz. Both actors appeared in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed trailer finds them exactly where we last saw them in the 2021 film.
A post-credits scene reveals that Winston is re-opening the old Ghostbusters firehouse, while a voiceover from him indicates that he intends to use his successful business to start a new era in the business of ghost-busting. And in the trailer for the new game, he looks very comfortable in old digs.
Related: Is Ghostbusters The Video Game Worth Buying in 2021?
As for Ray, the film shows that he's still working at Ray's Occult Books in New York City, which was first introduced in Ghostbusters II. In the trailer for Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed, we see him lending some advice to the new team from behind the counter at his store.
But does this all prove that the new video game is actually a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, or are we jumping the gun a little? Well, if you're a diehard Ghostbusters fan, you'll be familiar with Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009), which was widely considered canon by fans and even Aykroyd himself.
Related: Is Ghostbusters Afterlife Worth Watching?
The 2009 game even saw the return of Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, and Annie Potts, with Ramis and Aykroyd also credited as writers. The game also behaves as if it's a sequel to the original two films, so it's really no surprise that it was considered canon - at least up until 2021.
While Ghostbusters: Afterlife doesn't explicitly contradict the events of the 2009 game, there are a few plot points that do seem to cause a problem. As such, the game has now been demoted from "Primary Canon" to "Secondary Canon" by Ghostbusters fans, which is a huge shame.
Related: Ghostbusters Movies Ranked Worst to Best
With that said, it can still be accepted as canon in its own right, as the movies exist within its narrative, just like they exist within the narrative of animated shows like The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters, as well as the long-running IDW Ghostbusters comic book series.
In other words, the first two films are absolutely canon to the 2009 game, but it just isn't the case the other way around anymore. So, is Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife? Well, yes, it is. But whether or not a future movie will acknowledge the game is another matter.
Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed will be released on the PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and Xbox One sometime during Q4, 2022.