As the Order of Trinity continues its Ghostbusters themed weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the movie Tony Wilkins looks back at the first video game of the franchise released on the Sega Master System
Ghostbusters was one of those franchises that was universally loved. Comedy, action and romance it offended few and endeared many. How many movies can say that today? You can also see straight away that the movie was destined to become a video game. It had a lot for game developers in the 1980s to work with; proton packs, Ecto-1 and of course ghosts. The franchise was a gift for the rapidly advancing 8-bit games industry but what did they do with this gift? They threw it away.
I was 8 years old when I got my hands on this game for the first time. At that point in my early youth I was obsessed with Ghostbusters and that’s not an exaggeration. I really was. The cartoon was in to it’s 5th season and Ghostbusters II was still a ‘new’ film only just being released on VHS. Now for those of you who know your history you have probably come to realize that I got this game several years after its original release but back then you didn’t care about how old a game was you just got what you wanted and I wanted Ghostbusters.
So what were my thoughts then and what are they now?
Well, even when I was 8 years old I was disappointed with this game. The main screen is a map of New York city and every so often you have to get to a city block where ghosts are attacking. First however you have to establish your ghost busting business. That’s right; you don’t play as the main characters but rather you establish your own company. You have four cars to chose from as your “Ecto-1” which you have to equip with certain items and from there on you face Gozer and his minions. Once you are set up you spend most of the game chasing after ghosts in the flashing city blocks, emptying your traps and trying to keep Stay Puft from crushing the city and except for the final boss that’s it. The game is also notorious in gamer circles for its spelling mistakes as a result of its translation from Japanese to English.
From what I gather online you either love or hate this game. Personally; I hate it. The gameplay is primitive and not very exciting. It is actually described more as a business simulation rather than a ghost-fighting action game. Who wants that in a Ghostbusters game? Certainly not the 8 year old me and not the 29 year old me writing this review. This could have been far more action packed but instead we got a strategy game that irritates more than it entertains. You have to respect the developers for trying to capture the spirit of the movie but it fails to deliver. It is also insanely difficult to play and requires a patient gamer to get the most of out it.
As a PC game this might have been better but as a console game it needed to be a faster experience with a bit more action and adventure. I would have preferred a game like Mario or Alex Kidd where you control a Ghostbuster and walk around catching ghosts with your proton pack before dragging them to a trap. Perhaps an Ecto-1 scene in between? I am as hardcore a Ghostbuster fan as they come but this is one I skip.
Thanks for reading…