30 October 2014


Publisher/Developer:  Sega/Activision
Format: Cartridge
Game Size: 128K
Rarity:  2
Game Type: Action Business Minigame.
Region: USA
Other Ways to Play: Commodore 64, NES, PC Fan Remake, Atari 800 series, Apple II, Amstrad CPC, MSX, PC Booter, Atari 2600, ZX Spectrum
Power Base Convertor Playable?: Yes, 6 Button Pad Capable.

Price I Paid: Don't remember, got it like 6-10 years ago on Ebay.
Price I Would Pay: 12 Bucks US
Condition: Game, Manual, Case
Game Rating: GOOD
My History:  Played C64 edition in the mid 80s, got this port within the last 10 years sometime.

(First 5 shots are on an actual SMS.)
 (Title Screen, including the Ghostbusters theme song with bouncing ball lyrics.)

 (Selecting your fly hooptie.)

(Multiple ugly little spuds.)

 (Stay Puft is here too.  Go in from the right side unlike in between his legs in the C64 version.)

(Code if you want to play with more money next game.)

(Next six shots are Genesis with Power Base Convertor.)
 (If you want to be Ghostbusters Stig you obviously aren't doing it on the first playthrough!)

 (David Crane built this city on Z80 and 6502 code.)

 (No matter what car you get you always see the iconic Hearse.)

 (Now the roads have things to kill you and take time and money.  Least now you can see how far you have to go.  This city is HUGE.)

 (Until Stay Puft smooshes part of it.  Luckily two button control fixes that a bit eh?)

 (Climbing the tower as three of the four ghost types take my Ghostbuster down.)


  In Ghostbusters you take control of a new franchise to protect a city from ghosts and make fat stacks of cash in the process.  Starting with 10,000 dollars you buy a vehicle to drive through the city to catch ghosts roaming on the roads and in buildings, eventually avoiding the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and then climbing a ghost infested skyscraper to shoot Gozer to win the game, where you can then repeat the process over and over again.  

 Provided you have enough money to pay back the bank of course.

  A conversion of the original microcomputer version, this is a major improvement in almost every way over the C64 original, outside of no digitzed speech and the lack of glorious SID chip music.  Where in the original the driving scene was basically a pointless waste of time outside of sucking up ghosts to slow the timer's countdown to the end game (more time: more money to make), this remake includes a distance meter to show you how far you have to go, cars and other obstacles to avoid, and the ghosts you catch now provide the player with additional money alongside actual buildings on the side of the road.

(Remaining screenshots are from an emulator.)
(Sadly your gear isn't shown on your car at all in this version.  Of course now your ride doesn't take up 70% of the screen either...)

  Unlike the original roaming about the city map has more of a purpose than merely trying to run over ghosts to stop them so you can capture them on the car minigame and trying to stop the dreaded MARSHMALLOW ALERT for money.

(With a two button controller you can actually catch almost every Marshmallow Attack in time.)

  Now the Keymaster and Gatekeeper walking over you causes you to lose money as you drive on your route to red blinking ghost sites, HQ (to replenish traps, downed 'Busters, and recharge your Proton Packs.), and the Shop which allows you to buy all sorts of equipment during the mission, most of which are either from the computer original or are super upgrades of the classic gear.

(And like most Ghostbusters games, Winston stays home apparently.)

But the main "meat" of the game is the same as the original: getting to a red blinking block and catching the ghosts there.  

 (Setting up the trap.)

  Where in the original the two 'Busters would try to trap a single ghost with angled beams trapping the normally hard to see critter without running out of beam charge or crossing the streams, this version has the beams going straight up, about halfway up the building provided you have the team members flush to the wall.

 (And there are now multiple ghosts to deal with.)

  You then as always activate your packs and use the beams to herd the handful of ghost sprites (more than one this time, though it seems to just be green or yellow varieties as opposed to just Slimer types in the original) above the trap where you open it, and a catch bubble shoots up and down, hopefully catching them all.  Unless you have some of the special equipment even if one ghost isn't caught it will slime one of your three 'Busters, meaning losing another one requires a trip back to HQ, wasting valuable busting time.

   Unlike the slow moving digital counter in the original, this version uses three colored bars at the top of the screen going blue, yellow, and red where at each level more and more is happening faster and faster, doing a great job of simulating the original movie as the supernatural activity got more and more intense throughout the running time.

  Should you keep things under control and use the equipment you buy to keep your ghost hunting shenanigans in top shape as long as you have more money than you started with you go to the three final mini games, two of which are new to this version.


  Once you get two 'Busters past a giant bouncing Marshmallow Man, you then have to take your three men up the building, shooting ghosts who will reappear after a number of seconds, helpfully blinking in to let you know they are arriving.  You can shoot your Proton Pack at a 45 degree angle or straight ahead depending on which button you press.  With four types of ghosts who naturally can float through the floors you will be kept on your toes trying to get to the top.  Some float lazily towards you, some bounce in an arc, others throw plates you can avoid or shoot.  

  Provided at least one guy gets up the building, the final minigame activates:

 (Somebody didn't check their spelling...)

  You then shoot your beams at Gozer, avoiding his/her shots and random fireballs from the Devil Dogs.  Do enough damage with a single 'Buster (Gozer's life bar regenerates if a 'Buster gets taken out.) and you have not only won the game, but you get an extra bonus.

(And a slightly different set of scrolling text.)

  Graphically the game is excellent for the time with very little flicker.  Everything is nice looking and has a ton of extra colors compared to the mostly single colored sprites of the original or NES version.  The music and sound aren't too bad, with the movie's theme playing throughout most but not the entirety of the game which keeps it from getting quite as much on one's nerves as the original.

  It is just a FUN little game that is well worth your time now and then.  Sadly, the game's content is rather limited so once all the mini games have been mastered and a player has tried out all the various gear he or she can buy there is very little reason to keep playing.

  It is about 3-5 hours of actual game content all things considered, and even less if you play in an emulator and savescum to master the final three mini games instead of going through the rest of the game as intended.  (And this means trying to make more and more money becomes moot, which is a fun part of it all.)

Master System Play:  Overall the SMS video output isn't too rough on this game overall.  It controls fairly well with the Control Pad but pretty poorly with the Control Stick.  The Epyx 500XJ was damn solid for it.

  So its really GOOD.  It isn't remotely as bad as most reviews make it out to be, though I say a major reason for this is the NES version being so infamously terrible. (Sad fact of electronic gaming is most people think Nintendo is the Alpha and Omega of games and nothing else existed or mattered until maybe the Genesis but not really until the Playstation.) The SMS port is fantastic and outside of the fan made modern era remake probably the greatest version of the game.  I loved the C64 edition as a kid and outside of the music the SMS port is basically the same game only after a six pack of Red Bull.  Sure it is a pile of mostly disparate mini games that are bog simple to play but combined they really work and feel like you are running a Ghostbusters franchise.  You won't be playing it for hours a day or anything but it is like a cup of tea or cider for me.  Just a comforting blanket of pleasurable nostalgia you will come back to for an hour or so every now and then.  When mass hysteria strikes I think we know who to call.  (Hint: It involves playing this game.)

Next Review:  Continuing with the games I have never played before voting options I gave Something Awful and the #retrochat channel on SYNIRC, we will be covering BLACK BELT.

So join me in November for FIGHTIN MAN MONTH!! (Also starring VIGILANTE.)

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