How To Experience 'Ghost In The Shell's World

Paramount Pictures

The new film Ghost in the Shell might just be the most visually stunning and bonkers movie of 2017. The actioner features a colorful and high-tech retro-future cyberpunk setting complete with Geisha robots, invisible super soldiers, and lots of guns. Many parts of the film feel more like a third person shooter than a movie, which begs the question: Is Ghost in the Shell a video game? The movie definitely looks and feels like one, but is that just a coincidence or did the film draw its inspiration from a game?

The answer is a little of both. Technically, Ghost in the Shell is not based upon a video game. It's based on a manga — a type of Japanese comic book — that is also called Ghost in the Shell. The first version of the manga debuted back in 1989, and it spawned a wildly popular Ghost in the Shell media franchise in its native Japan. In addition to more manga and books, the series received its first anime film in 1995. This was followed by a number of other animated films and television series in the two decades since, as well as — you guessed it — several Ghost in the Shell video games.

The first game based on the franchise was a third person shooter simply titled Ghost in the Shell. It was released in 1997, exclusively for PlayStation. The game featured a similar cyberpunk setting as seen in the new film, but players did not control the series' main protagonist, The Major (Scarlett Johansson in the film) in the game, and instead played as a newly-created rookie Fuchikoma robot. The game received mostly positive reviews, and it 2013 it was ranked by Game Informer as one of the greatest games based on anime or manga ever made.

Three other Ghost in the Shell video games followed, but none have quite enjoyed the critical success of the original. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex was a third person shooter released in 2005 for PlayStation 2. It was based on an anime film of the same name. Next came another game called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Also released in 2005 and only available on the PSP, this game was not actually the same as the other game of the same name; it was a first person shooter and a sequel to that game — despite bearing an identical title, existing on a different console, and coming out the same year. In Japan, the game had a subtitle of "Domain of the Hunters" which distinguished it from its predecessor, but this subtitle was left off the English language versions of the game.

Finally, there is a fourth Ghost in the Shell game in development, which is again based upon Stand Alone Complex. This one, a free-to-play online first person shooter called Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online, was released in a beta version last year, and can be played right now on Steam.

Although Ghost in the Shell the movie isn't based on a video game, there are several Ghost in the Shell video games floating around out there. So if after seeing the film you decide that you need to experience the world of Ghost in the Shell for yourself, you'll have ample opportunity to do so.