#253 – Ghostbusters

Not the adaptation you’re looking for.
I am very much afraid of these ghosts.
Enjoy the drive.


PUBLISHER: Activision

DEVELOPER: Bits Laboratory

GENRE: Driving/Arcade/Action

RELEASE DATE: October 1988

You know what a Ghostbusters game should be? A side-scrolling action game with, oh, six levels based on scenes from the movie. Each boss battle should be an epic button mash to get them into the proton pack. Bam, your game’s done, slap that worthless “Nintendo License” and make a few million. What Ghostbusters for the NES turned out to be, besides another worthless licensed game, is an abomination that ranks among the worst in the NES library. There is no “making the best of a bad situation” here. This is truly terrible, awful, atrocious, and so forth.

Oh, where to begin? You start off in what appears to be a city map, filled with buildings, ghosts that were beamed straight from your dusty 2600, and… that’s about it. Each building holds potential ghosts for you to beam into your proton pack. The more ghosts you collect, the more money you make BUT WAIT – in order to do anything, you first have to buy a proton pack and a trap. Yes, these things aren’t supplied to you straight away, despite the fact that you’re a Ghostbuster. I mean, you’re driving the car, what other proof do you need, Annie Potts?! To get to any destination, whether it be the shop, a building with ghosts, or really anywhere, you must drive. Driving is completely unnecessary, tedious and draws out an already long and pointless game. The worst part about driving is that you can – and will often – run out of gas. Should you do this, your trusty Ghostbusters will push the car to the nearest gas station, fill you up, then woops! You’re back to the main map and you have to drive wherever you were going all over again. Hope you don’t run out of gas again! Eventually, you will have the chance to capture ghosts. You will know where ghosts are by the blinking red buildings on the map. Drive there, lay down the pack, and try and trap all the ghosts. It should be easy, but it’s not. Ghosts’ movements are erratic and they will do anything to try and get away. It’s a crapshoot, exacerbated by the limited amount of time you have to capture them. Should you fail, it’s back to the main map so you can drive somewhere else so you can fail to capture them all over again!!!

I never got to Gozer’s Tower, the last stage in the game. Apparently, you need to generate enough ectoplasm to “prepare” for Gozer’s return. All I know is, you hit ‘A’ repeatedly to move your four shambling Ghostbusters up several dozen flights of stairs, trying to avoid ghosts and not die. Should you die… you have to start the game all over again. There is no sound explanation for why any developer would want to flagellate a player in the way Ghostbusters does. There is no logic available for how Bits Laboratory decided on the gameplay that eventually became Ghostbusters. Is it true that some mysteries are better left unsolved? Robert Stack seems to think so, and this time, I agree. Let us all treat the NES version of Ghostbusters as an anomaly that has no right to exist, and perhaps, doesn’t exist. After all, if a game is relegated to boxes in basements, pawn shops, and other forgotten areas, was it ever anything more than a false memory?


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