Sunday, August 18, 2013

VGR Sega's Ghostbusters

Sad by a lack of good Ghostbusters game? What are you talking about, didn't I tell you about New Ghostbusters II last time?

Here's another fine example of a GB game, and a pretty good memorable well made movie license on Sega's 16-bit classic console.

VGR: Ghostbusters also known as Sega's Ghostbusters or Ghostbusters Genesis
From Compile/SEGA of America
Played on Sega Megadrive
Also available on /

Type Sidescroller action game
Year 1990

The boys in gray are black! Albeit in this game their suit's closer to blue than grey to be honest.

This Ghostbusters videogame came out and was actually developed after the release of Ghostbusters II.

This means besides the highly popular cartoon still running at the time (with its popularity on the decline) - this game wasn't actually promoting anything.

Instead this was simply an early title for the just then-recently released Sega Genesis/Megadrive.

And what better high profile title than a popular beloved license from the 1980s every kid had heard from?

The game was developed by Sega specifically for their 16-bit home system.

The game is unreleated to the prior Activision games although they still get credited in the end, I suspect for the general ideas behind the gameplay mechanic, but we'll see this below.

The story appears to take place in-between both films.

After the defeat of Gozer the Gozerian in the first film, Peter, Ray and Egon put themselves effectively out of job.

There's not any single ghost around anymore.

That is... until a mysterious earthquake in the heart of Manhattan!

Just like that, ghosts are back!

Our heroes are getting several calls from alarmed citizens.

Now it's up to you - the player! - to help 'em out.

The game start by letting you pick any of the available three Ghostbusters out of the 4 from the film. That's right, the noticeable absence of Winston has always bugged me in this game. Did they miss Winston joining the crew in the first film? (he actually stayed with Ray at the beginning of the second film unlike Venkman) Was it a color palette issue and they feared having his skin turn blue like in New Ghostbusters II? Was that simply a racist move from Compile?

But I digress...

The game is an action game, a sidescroller "run & gun", a genre that was quite popular at the time.

It's kinda similar to the Capcom series Mega Man. And like those game you are presented to 4 stages at first you can select in any order on a map. Those will take you through houses, apartments, burning building and a skyscrapper in the beginning.

Once those completed, a 5th level will be opened in an haunted mansion. Each time you will collect a stone tablet.

Finally, when all the pieces are gathered, a new earthquake will open the 6th and final stage in creepy undergrounds. There will you will fight back all the previous bosses to finally get to Janna, the Goddess of Death and Destruction!

Will the Ghostbusters be able to close the portal to her evil world before too many spirits cross over?

The game is presented in a "super deformed" chibi artstyle sort of similar to Super Back to the Future's now that I think about it.

You can attack with one button, jump with another and throw some explosive bombs with the last one.

You start with a pretty simple regular proton pack that shoots blasts.

There's all sorts of ghosts in the levels. Like in the movies they range from comical to bizarre to right down freaky. They come in all sorts of shape and size. 

It's really one of the best aspects of the game, they all have great designs!

There's usually about ~2 "middle ghost" boss fights (1 in the first stage and 4 in the last one). They're the ghosts you're contracted to find. Once they are cleared out the actual boss of end stage will be revealed on your map in the pause menu. This one will get you a new tablet.

While the regular ghosts are simply cleared from the screen, the middle ghosts can be trapped like in the films. Once defeated they turn back into a simpler green ghost. Don't let them run away or you will be losing quite a lot of money!

The only thing the game takes back from David Crane's Ghostbusters game is the idea of an economic management aspect-gimmick. 

Like in the old Nes game, you get a certain budget at the start for weapons/power-ups. You can make more money by busting ghosts in the levels, capturing the middle ghosts and getting high score.

Then you can spend it in an upgrade menu.

There are two shops you can visit when you live a stage or between missions. The first Asian (?) store is run by the Item Shop Owner and sells food to replenish your health during though moments, bombs and an infrared vision(!!).

The second shop is actually a laboratory ran by the Weapon Shop Owner, a scientist (who even gets to play a part in the plot later on when the other 2 Ghostbusters are captured). You can buy several kinds of power-ups for the proton pack including a 3-way shot

It's really important to buy items as the ghosts get really tough later on and if you don't want to lose all your continues you better save some lifes with proper items.

The game is actually quite challenging.

All three busters have different overall abilities each. While Peter's the easy mode (normal speed, normal health), Ray is the normal setting (slower but better endurance) and Egon's the hard mode (he's fast but has the lowest health).

The levels are pretty huge, you can explore them as you want since they're non-linear. But that often means risking your life amongst several enemies for more cash.

There's some returning familiar faces from the past, such as Slimer. You can find the Ghostbusters' first ghost captured in the stages, he will give you some health back at some crucial points.

One of Janna's minions is the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, which is actually a new ghost that took this form for old time's sake.

The bosses are pretty difficult but you mostly need to identify and learn their patterns fast.

There's a lot of Engrish*, but nothing that detracts from the overall experience of the game. And the story's captivating and interesting enough despite the abysmal grammar.

While the backgrounds remain pretty simple through the game - this being an early 16-bit title - the characters and more particularly bosses are pretty recognizable and impressive enough.

The music is highly memorable and catchy. The soundtrack comes from Kazuhiko Nagai who manage a great job at capturing both the most comedic aspect of Ghostbusters but also the creepier moments. You can even enjoy a fantastic rendition of Ray Parker Jr's theme song.

Since this is an early title, that means no saves and a lack of passwords. Old school!

Overall, this is a fantastic 16-bit classic!

Easily one of the best Ghostbusters titles, the one that comes closest to bring this "ghost bustin'" concept into the form of a gameplay.

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good!

It comes highly recommended to any fans of the series and fans of good ol' action sidescrollers.
I give it:
2.5 / 3 Bruces!

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