Back before the world had entirely given up on high concept management games (and before they were reborn years later) Ghost Master was part of the last dribble of attempts to wrench the genre out of its tycoon-clone funk. A sort of Dungeon Keeper-Sims hybrid, it casts you as some kind of spectral overlord, working out how and where best to deploy assorted comic spirits in order to achieve maximum scares. Tonally, it fell somewhere between Beetlejuice and a Noel’s House Party skit.
On paper, it’s a fine concept, and one of surprisingly few games of the time to even try to pick up The Sims baton. It is resolutely not The Sims, but cheekily disrupting the banally domestic lives of suburban mortals with your legion of snickering spirits cannily evoked one of the obsessions of the time.
In practice, its puzzles were aggravatingly specific and as repetitious as they were inventive, and my early delight in scaring folks out of their homes gave way to exasperation. I bailed during the later levels, and winced at the needless introduction of ‘Ghostbreakers’ as an attempt to crank things up.
But hell, the first couple of missions were a silly joy, and there’s plenty of meat left on those haunted house sim bones – I’d love to see someone else run with this kind of concept.