Guest Blog by Kevin K @Agent_Prince
Ghostbusters is one of my most, if not the most, favourite franchises. Beginning with the first movie in 1984, it went onto spawn The Real Ghostbusters, a massively popular cartoon series that continued the timeline, the successful movie sequel Ghostbusters II and successful comic book series by IDW Publishing. It's fair to say that Ghostbusters have spent a credible amount of times in the video games industry. With releases on the Commodore 64, Gameboy and Xbox 360; the Ghostbusters Video Game franchise has grown up alongside many of us. In 2016 with the impending release of the currently fan-diversifying Paul Feig reboot, has the video game industry done this fantastic license justice over the years?
Let’s look at some of the highlights.
Ghostbusters (Amstrad, Commodore 64, Spectrum, others) 1984
Fondly remembered for me as one of the first video games I ever laid eyes on, this movie tie-in was actually originally developed at the same time as the original box-office hit, albeit as a different title to begin with: ‘Car Wars’. The version I had was for the Sinclair Spectrum, which is unfortunately inferior to the Commodore version, in particular the graphics, colours and sound. But still a fine game.
The plot was the same as the movie, but a large majority of the game took place driving from job to job with a close top-down view, sucking up any ghosts that came across the screen. From what I remember, control responses were capable but not great, and the sections were mostly very long and quite tedious. Nonetheless, these sections were also engaging and necessary to raise cash for more equipment. It did somewhat improve with the ‘busting’ portions of the game which followed.
Upon reaching your destination you’d control two Ghostbusters attempting to catch the little bugger with your proton streams and then trap it. So it was a case of tactically placing the heroes in order to make the shots count. This was by far the most fun section of the game; quite challenging and the controls were intuitive, too. If the ghost got away, or a trap attempt was missed, the ghost would then proceed to knock over one of your heroes, which in turn triggered the soundbyte ‘He slimed me’, direct from the movie.
On the Spectrum it sounded more like someone throwing up, but hey, this was 1984! Touches like this are great for fans, as was the whole game. For the faithfulness alone, this should definitely be considered a classic.
Ghostbusters II (Gameboy) 1990
Following on from the massive success of the original movie, the cartoon and merchandise that came with it, a sequel was inevitable. As is almost obligatory, particularly these days, a licensed video game was released to coincide with the movie.
I tackled the GameBoy version myself, which was a very fun although simple and short game, and a welcome addition to a somewhat short list of decent movie-licensed video game releases. Our four heroes were represented as tiny, miniaturised versions of their movie counterparts.
After choosing your character, you then chose a second; an NPC character who followed wherever you went, and this formed the simple but intuitive system for capturing ghosts. Your chosen character performed the proton blasts to hold the ghosts while the NPC held the ghost trap, and activated it on command by the player in order to trap ghosts and progress. Ghostbusters II fit the mould of the perfect Gameboy game with intuitive controls that suited the D-pad and buttons perfectly. With a Link to the Past view incorporated and its dungeon-inspired levels, you couldn’t go wrong. Great fun.
Ghostbusters: The Video Game (Xbox, PS3) 2009
I love this game. Yes, this will be a very biased view of what is critically considered a decent, but far from perfect video game, but I love it. I even got a copy from the US due to the publishing nightmare it endured on the Xbox 360 in the UK, as they kindly left it region-free. For a Ghostbusters fan, this game is the ultimate experience. You play the new recruit to the original team, who are voiced by the entire original movie cast also (fandom EXPLOSION!), as they teach you the “tools and the talent” to be a Ghostbuster. It doesn’t disappoint.
Using the ever-popular third person view that makes Dead Space and Resident Evil 4 games so great, you make your way through streets, buildings and spooky cemeteries, flushing out ghosts with the PKE meter. Then it’s time to zap and trap them, using the wonderfully presented Ghostbuster equipment that we all know and love. There are some excellent variations on the norm too. The slime tether is used to pull heavy objects. The stasis stream freezes ghosts in their tracks for a limited time. The zapping and trapping system is everything you could want from a Ghostbusters game; proton beams weaken the enemy enough that they are then dragged to the trap and sucked inside. This looks almost exactly like the movies and cartoon series and you also get a real sense of pulling the ghost around, whether it’s to keep them in check, or guide them to a ghost trap.
This certainly was the game created with the fans in mind the most. It has often been deemed by Dan Ackroyd (Ray Stantz) to be Ghostbusters 3. As mentioned above, the original movie cast have reunited to provide the voices of their respective characters. The soundtrack is taken from the original movie, which while not original, is still excellent to this day and fits in with the game very well. Even the achievements/trophies are named with quotes from the movies.
Unlike some movie franchises, Ghostbusters has been treated pretty well over the years. Only the most recent Sanctum of Slime which was critically ill-received, so much so I couldn’t even bring myself to upgrade from the trial version. For anyone who thinks that all the Ghostbusters games were sub-standard, the 2009 video game is the exception to the general movie licensed video game mediocrity, and is an excellent game in its own right. At £11.99 from Microsoft’s Games on Demand, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is also now a bargain.
Gust Blog by Kevin K @Agent_Prince
Retro Game Reviews. Mega Drive, Super Nintendo, Sega Dreamcast and more
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