Thursday, September 26, 2013

VGR The Real Ghostbusters (Game Boy)

Here's one of the very few Real Ghostbusters videogames released (the other one was an arcade title).

VGR: The Real Ghostbusters also known as Mickey Mouse IV: The Magical Labyrinth and Garfield labyrinth aka Crazy Castle 4
From Kemco/Kotobuki Systems/Activision
Played on the Game Boy
Also available on /

Type Action/puzzle sidescroller
Year 1993

This game is slightly based on the Real Ghostbusters animated series. And I used "based on" very loosely here.

...but first, let me talk to you about this very unique gaming series.

The Crazy Castle series is a very unique series, developed by the little software company Kemco, unlike any other.

These titles have been released for the Famicom/NES and the Game Boy (and later Color/Advance). 

It all started  when Kemco was able to get the license to the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit. They released it on the Famicom (the Nes in Japan), but couldn't get it overseas due to a similarly titled game by LJN who owned the copyright for the Western market. So Kemco bought the rights to the Looney Tunes for the localization... and that's when all the confusion regarding this series began.

When they re-released it on the Game Boy, the Roger Rabbit license had expired and they used Mickey Mouse in Japan instead. What followed was a Mickey Mouse II in Japan, then changed it to a Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle 2 in America (Europe kept Mickey Mouse that first time), then they re-released it once more in Europe as Hugo* game. A Mickey Mouse III followed, which became Kid Klown in Night Mayor World internationally. 

And here we are with the game that concerns us in this review - Mickey Mouse IV became a Real Ghostbusters tie-in game, which then became Garfield in Europe for some reason (not like Garfield's that popular in Europe to begin with...).

The series would go on way into the mid-90s to the early 2000s! With several more Mickey Mouse/Bugs Bunny incarnations to even include a Woody Woodpecker Crazy Castle!

The story in this game, you ask?

There's none to speak of. Peter Venkman gets trapped in some Crazy Castle... and you have to find your way out. Simple as that!

Hey, where you expecting much from a flexible simple puzzle series featuring generic random popular cartoons depending on the release?

The Real Ghostbusters aka Mickey Mouse IV/Crazy Castle 4 is a very simple straightforward action puzzle game played as your typical sidescrolling platformer

The whole series is very repetitive, and I'm pretty sure levels and entire segments are recycled and re-used in-between series.

Seriously though, you've played one of these games, you've played them all!

The character you play as as very little to do with how the game is played, be it Venkman, Mickey, Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker.

The goal is to find several "sparks" indicated on screen, once you got all of them the door to the exit will open (often located at the start of a new level).

To progress you are armed with your proton gun (replacing a pneumatic hammer/magic wand)... which doesn't fire proton streams in this game since that would mean changing the gameplay of this series.

It just destroys the nearby block below in front of you.

All the puzzle element comes from this element.

If you get stuck you can "give up" to restart a stage.

To defeat your enemies you can count on some bombs that explode on impact.

You have a certain amount of health lives.

The second puzzle element of this game are the keys. You can find several of them around or under blocks. Each correspond to a very specific lock/bridge/door.

Each stage is basically a new puzzle to solve in a very unique way, with sets of doors/locks/keys, traps, teleporters and enemies around.

Between the different versions of this game/series, the items, foes and graphics never change. That means you don't find ghosts but magical entities such as witches in this game.

Despite the different between the localizations/main characters, only a minor variation is made in the short intro between versions. And the sprite* of the main character as well.

As you can imagine.. it's a very repetitive series.

The whole dungeon atmosphere is nice I guess. But a bit of variation would be nice during the progress.

The Real Ghostbusters version of this Crazy Castle episode is the longest produced, with 10 more additional stages over any prior version, making this game 51-stages long (!).

It's a game that requires no dialog whatsoever.

After a quick intro, your character finds himself trapped, lost in a castle after walking over a bridge that collapsed and fell down a dungeon.

Now armed with your "magic wand" and a few items on your select screen, your goal is to simply get out...

The music also gets very annoying very fast. I suggest to mute it after a while.

Another difference this Ghostbusters game has on a Mickey or Bugs Bunny game? The Ghostbusters theme song every few levels, which offers a nice change.

Thankfully this very long, very repetitive game has a password system to save your progress... Which is good if like me you are desperate to finish this. By the way, good luck with that.

It's not a very complicated game, in fact it's pretty easy. But. It's. So. Long...

Overall, it's fun and even enjoyable for a couple dozen levels or so... but it gets stale very quickly.

And immensely repetitive very fast. 

The licensing issue is without a doubt the most interesting aspect of this entire series easily.
I give it:
1.5 / 3 Bubbles!

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