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Ghostbusters Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: 1989 Also On: None

Ah, here we have some memories. I first played this title, created by the
legendary David Crane, on the Atari 2600 a long time ago at a friend’s
house. The game was terrible, one of the worst things ever but for such a
limited system I supposed it was decent. Eventually, it was ported to other
systems including the Nintendo NES. This version, due to a number of issues
including this annoying “get gasoline when you’re low or push your car”
feature, sucks. I knew a version existed for the Sega Master System, but I
was yet unfamiliar with it until I finally picked one up. Thank god, it
seems someone eventually got this game to play right!

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Ghostbusters is graphically pretty impressive. Akin to the SMS’ capabilities
you have a wide variety of colors, excellent character detail and smooth
animation. Though the game itself is somewhat limited in basic design, the
programmers certainly made up for this by adding as much detail as they
could. The title screen opens with the Ghostbusters’ logo and a bouncing
ball run through the theme song that’s smooth and fitting. The ending,
unfortunately, is lame text, which gets to me sometimes, so I wish they did
more with that but overall this game presents quite well with no flicker,
slowdown or problems.

The sound is definitely not mediocre, but it could of used some more
variety. Essentially you have the same song playing through the entire game,
with little alteration throughout. Mind you, they certainly captured the
Ghostbusters’ theme song perfectly, but I think some variety would have made
it much better. Hearing the same song playing, regardless of the in-game action,
gets redundant after awhile. They should have at least changed it during
more difficult segments, especially when you’re finally fighting the final
boss. I will say that the track is at least very lengthy, so though it
repeats it goes on for a long time before this happens and it doesn’t get
too redundant too quickly. Run DMX certainly made his mark with this
beauty. The sound effects are generally what you’d expect to hear, but a
few could have been adjusted. A twitting sound when you get slimed doesn’t
seem to fit the effect I’d expect from this, though for the most part the
effects work well.

Ghostbusters has very unique gameplay, and it’s generally said that the
Master System version is the only title to ever truly capture this and do it
well. Basically, you have to first collect ghosts to save up money, purchase
more expensive equipment and other items, and keep going until you have
enough when the PK energy meter reaches maximum. You need to have at least
$10,000 at this point, otherwise you can’t attempt to fight the final boss.

When you do, you have to first pass the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, climb up
several flights of the building while avoiding ghosts, and then take on
Gorza (changed from the movie name). When you capture ghosts, which is the
main part of the game initially, you move two Ghostbusters on the street
after you go to a building, with vertically firing beams to draw them into
the center and then let loose your trap. There are various items that make
this easier, along with items to make the overall money collection quicker.
This is essential, because later on the Marshmallow Man appears and destroys
buildings unless you have ghost bait to stop his assimilation or enough
money to pay the city off. So you have some items like a laser containment
field that enables you to bypass going back to headquarters to empty your
traps. Lots of different features like this that the programmers added.

The controls are very smooth and intuitive. Even without the manual you
could jump right into this and it doesn’t take long to master what you need
to do. Of course, this doesn’t avoid the fact that strategy is required to
complete Ghostbusters. It’s nice to see this in this type of game, which
defies categorization to begin with. There are some other features to be
found here as well like ghosts you’ll encounter on the road to different
buildings, the usage of the Marshmallow Man detector, the Key Master and so
forth. Nothing superfluous and everything integral, just as it should be.

The only problem is that it’s a damn difficult title to complete. The main
difficulty comes from saving up money, especially when Stay-Puft comes into
the picture, so this may be a burden on less experienced or less patient
gamers. It took me quite awhile to finally get to the end. The stair-climbing
segment before Gorza is also annoying, because there is no real strategy to
it and you’ll really only complete it through chance; it all depends where
the ghosts appear. Sometimes one will appear below you chucking plates and
you can’t do anything about it. Still, overall this is a very fun and
interesting game and without a doubt the best version ever released.

This is definitely a creative game. Though it’s not the original version,
I’m not going to take off points because regardless of this it’s still a
great play. In addition, the programmers tweaked the gameplay to make it
more user friendly, adding a number of new features to enhance it, so I have
to give props for that. Ghostbusters was always one of the strangest titles
back in the day, as I mentioned above it’s nearly impossible to categorize
it. I’m not sure what you’d call it since it throws together puzzle,
action, adventure and strategy elements all into one.

As for replay value, it will definitely take a new player several attempts
to finally make it to the end and then several more attempts to master that
segment. The only thing that’s annoying is a lack of password feature. Of
course, it would be pointless for this title once you see how it runs and
how long it is, but it’s really annoying to spend so much time saving up
money only to die within a few seconds because you can’t get your men past
the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man outside of the building. It’s even more
annoying if you put a lot of time into it only to be randomly slimed during
the stair-climb. Still, I did keep coming back to it and even after beating
it I still play it now and then because it’s an interesting title and a lot
of fun once you’ve mastered it. The game length is a bit short, however,
figure it out and you can complete it in under fifteen minutes or so.
Should have added a bit more to increase the depth of play and the plot,
perhaps more levels to fit the movie or something. That’s the only real
problem I have with this game.

Ghostbusters is without a doubt a core title in the early days of the Master
System and one that every SMS collector should own. Fans of the
Ghostbusters (or The Real Ghostbusters cartoon) will definitely enjoy this.
Plus, for you collectors out there, there’s a re-release version of this that
came out in 1990. Good luck finding that one. Anyway, to conclude, this
title is so much better than the NES version and leagues beyond the Atari
2600 version, which really made me happy. I always hated the other two and
wanted to get through them, but through poor programming and bad mechanics
it was sometimes impossible to get anywhere because you got too pissed off.
It’s not necessarily
a perfect game to begin with, but Sega did a great job altering it and
making it as best as possible.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 6
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 6.5
Final: 7.3
Written by Stan Review Guide