Reviewed by Jim Short


Issue 16

Jul/Aug 1985

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DISK only 




Drawing by Ronald Hill



You've seen the film and bought the hit record, now play the game! Activision's latest release follows the film plot faithfully so if you have seen the film, you know exactly what to expect.

The game fires up with an impressive title screen complete with Ghostbusters symbol and theme music which is first class. The lyrics are displayed so that you can sing along if you wish. If you are by now heartily sick of the Ray Parker Jnr. original press start and play the game!

Ghostbusters is played over three different screens - the street map, the driving screen and finally the ghost-busting screen. Before you start you must purchase a vehicle with the money credited to you by the bank and load it up with your ghostbusting equipment. You then advance to the street map screen and have to guide your miniature ghost-busters symbol around the criss-cross pattern of streets searching for buildings which are being haunted by ghosts. Fortunately, the buildings flash crimson when a ghost is present so this task is not particularly difficult. After selecting the building via the joystick, you progress through the driving screen where you guide your vehicle across the city to the haunted building. Whilst on your way you must vacuum up any 'Street Roamers' that you encounter. If it is beginning to sound complicated, brace yourself - there is more to come!

When you reach the building you must drop one of your traps on the ground and try to entice the ghost over it with the aid of your laser backpacks. This is quite a tricky operation as the ghost has no intention of being caught quite so easily and flits about the screen in quite an erratic manner in a bid to avoid you. Once you think the ghost is in a catchable position you must press the trigger to release the trap and, hopefully, it will spring up and catch the ghost. If you miss the ghost will swoop down and knock out one of your men before disappearing. You begin with three men and you need at least two men to function properly so missing a ghost on consecutive occasions means a return to GHQ for extra back-up men. You will also have to return to GHQ periodically to empty your traps and replenish your backpack power.

All the time the game is in progress, the city's 'PK Energy' is mounting up at the bottom of the screen. You must keep a sharp eye on this as the dreaded Marshmallow Man appears when the PK Energy is in excess of 5000. He will attempt to stomp down the buildings which, in turn, will cost you money to repair, so you must stop him at all costs by laying ghost-bait to entice him away from the buildings. The Mayor of the city will award you 2000 dollars each time you foil the Marshmallow Man but you will lose 4000 dollars each time you allow him to stomp down a building.

Catching a ghost earns you a set amount of money. The idea is to try and make more money than you started with and you have to do this before the city's PK Energy level reaches 9999. If you manage it you will be given the chance to enter the Temple of Zuul from where the ghosts emanate, and close the portal to the spirit world. This involves the frustrating process of trying to get two of your men past a giant Marshmallow Man as he guards the doorway to the Temple. If you are successful in this you will witness the closing of the portal and will receive a special commendation together with a personal Account number from the bank which you can use in future games allowing you to start with more money than usual. Scant reward for battling your way through all this!

On the surface GHOSTBUSTERS seems like a very good game, but I do have a couple of minor quibbles. Firstly there is no facility to turn off the background music. It does grate after awhile and there are precious few other sounds to compensate. Secondly, the game is rather too easy and can become boring too quickly. I completed the game on only my fourth attempt and now have little incentive to play it again. The seasoned games player will have to spray money about at the start of the game purchasing as much expensive equipment as possible, useless or otherwise, in order to make the game more challenging.

Finally, GHOSTBUSTERS is available on disk only for the Atari. Yet another example of an American company ignoring the British cassette market to which this game in particular is more suited.