Video games are AWESOME!

I’ve kept it a pretty close secret, but I think it’s time I come clean and admit that movies have had a profound effect on who I am. 2 franchises in particular have had the greatest impact on my mental make-up: Star Wars and Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters hit the scene on June 8th, 1984. I was 5 years and 2 months old. The world was coping with that most tragic chapter in our planet’s history, the Video Game crash of 1984. They were tough times, especially if you were a 5 year old who loved video games and Ghostbusters. The Video Game Gods apparently took pity on me, because it wasn’t long before Ghostbusters the video game graced store shelves.

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The Video Game Gods, as it turns out, are wrathful and wicked. They saw fit to give the project to David Crane. Crane had brought us the hit game Pitfall! So how could we fail handing over Ghostbusters to him? Well, take a look at him and ask yourself: Does this man look like he should be designing a game based on a hit film, or would it interfere with his Dungeon Master duties?

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If he rolls 16 or higher on his D 20, he succeeds, if not he fails… oooh, a 1. Critical Failure, that’s too bad. Ghostbusters is possibly one of the worst video games ever made. Not only is it supremely bad, there are also several different versions of the game, each slightly different but all of them equally crappy.

The game takes place, for the most part, on a map of the city. You are represented by a Ghostbusters logo that you guide around the city streets. You spend your time listening to an infinite loop of the Ghostbusters theme, traveling to haunted buildings and attempting to catch ghosts.

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Each system had a slightly different version of the game. The ultimate version of the game, the most all encompassing is, oddly enough, for the Sega Master System (SMS). Such being the case, I will list the features of this version, and make note of which systems are missing which features.

The Ghostbusters game begins with the selection of a car. There are 4 to choose from: Compact, Station wagon, Ambulance and Sports Car. Presumably the cars will get you to your destinations at varying speeds, but this doesn’t actually matter, so cheaper is better. This feature is omitted from both the Atari 2600 and NES versions of the game.

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Next up is the equipment screen, which is where the Atari 2600 game starts, but not the NES. Each version of the game has different items available in the shop. You can buy Marshmallow bait which will keep Stay Puft from destroying the city on those occasions he shows up (Not available on the NES), the image enhancer which makes ghosts easier to see, the Ghost Vacuum which allows you to suck up ghosts on the driving stages, ghost traps, Portable containment unit (Not available on the NES), Super Trap (Only available on NES and SMS) and various other items too expensive too buy and generally useless in the game.

equipment.jpgFinally we make it to the main screen. This is where the NES version starts. The map shows buildings lining the streets, ghosts floating slowly towards the ZUUL building, and the Key master and Gate keeper wandering the streets. The C64 and Atari versions of the game depict the Key Master as a key, and the gate keeper as a lock. On the SMS they are depicted as tiny people. The Gate Keeper and Key Master do not appear in the NES game.

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So, you travel around the screen seeking ghosts. When you find a haunted building it flashes. The action button will send your team to the site… Unless you’re playing on the NES. On the NES the first thing you have to do is go to the store and buy your equipment. Why they decided to do that is beyond me. Okay, now that we’re all geared up, off to the haunting.

The driving stages in this game are truly the worst. You see your car in an overhead view, other cars drive erratically all over the road. Hit one and it costs you money. Unless you’re on the C64 or the 2600, no traffic to contend with there. There are also ghosts that you’ll pass. Every time you touch a ghost on the main map it freezes, as long as it’s frozen, it will be on your route to the haunting. If you bought the ghost vacuum, you can suck them up on route for extra cash. You also have to keep an eye on your gas, run out and you’ll have to push your car to a gas pump. To avoid that, run over the gas barrels on the street. Unless you’re on the C64 or the 2600, no gas in those versions.

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And so you arrive at your destination. A building with a ghost or ghosts flying back and forth in front of it. This is where the most drastic variation in game play occur. On the SMS and NES, you can change the angle of the beam your Ghostbuster is shooting. Also, when a beam touches a ghost it becomes stuck to the beam and you can drag it over to the trap. Finally, the trap can be used multiple times. In the C64 and 2600 versions, your beams are locked at a 45 degree angle, and ghosts do not stick to the beams. You must maneuver your Ghostbusters in such a way so as to trap the ghost over the trap, and then hope to god that when you activate the trap the ghost will be directly over it. If you miss, you get slimed.

catchingc64.jpgAnd that’s the game. You just wander around and occasionally you catch ghosts. Eventually the Gatekeeper and the Key Master meet up on the streets. If you haven’t earned $10,000 by the time that happens, the game is over and the bank forecloses. Unless you’re on the NES, where this doesn’t happen at all. On the NES you keep going until a message flashes across the bottom of the screen saying “Enter Zuul Building Now”. This offer is only good for a limited time, so if you aren’t ready for it, you’re screwed. The final stage of the game requires specific equipment, like ghost bait, and you don’t have enough time to buy it before the offer expires. So, assuming all goes well, your next stop is the ZUUL building

Outside the building you will find Stay Puft jumping back and forth blocking your entrance. Unless you’re on the NES, NES players can just go into the building.

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If you make it inside, your next task is to climb 22 flights of stairs. There are ghosts on the stairs, if you touch them, they hurt you. Touch them too many times, and it’s game over, except on the SMS, which is the only version of the game to have a Continue feature. The C64 and 2600 skip this stage thankfully. In fact, beating stay puft beats the game in those versions, huzzah!

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So, to climb the stairs you have to tap the button repeatedly . No using the control pad this time for some reason. As such, this stage is pretty much impossible. If you do somehow make it to the top you are faced with a non moving Gozer and non moving demon dogs that shoot rings at you.

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Just dodge the rings and fire away, eventually you will beat the game. Your reward?

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Yup, all of that toil for some typos. God this game sucks. Here’s some videos of actual game play to haunt your dreams, and a video of the proposed 360 Ghostbusters game which I truly hope will redeem the Ghostbusters video game souls.

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~ by Pagz on April 7, 2008.

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