Wednesday, March 5, 2014

VGR:Quickies Ghostbusters, Extreme Ghostbusters and Evolution handheld games

Let's have a look at various Ivan Reitman-inspired handheld video games on all sorts of Game Boy systens!

The Ghostbusters franchise has known all sorts of video games over the years!

From the terrible 8-bit Ghostbusters to the awesome Sega's Ghostbusters, and finally to a great revival nowadays. But those are the big home console releases - I missed a couple of titles.

With regards to the very sad news that hit us fans all over the world, I would like to catch up on all the last games I missed. RIP Harold Ramis.

Let's look at all the Game Boy Ghostbusters titles, from the animated series tie-ins to its distant Evolution "sister series" game adaptation.

All of these were produced by Activision over the years for most of Nintendo's portables.

Title: Ghostbusters II also known as New Ghostbusters II 
From Activision/HAL Laboratory 

On Game Boy
Type Top-down action game
Year 1990

[Already reviewed here]

Overall: Unlike its home system counterpart, New Ghostbusters II (or simply Ghostbusters II as it is labeled on the Game Boy) was actually released everywhere, and yes including the US.

But don't rejoice too fast, it's not that a great alternative to the main game.

New Ghostbusters II on the classic black & white Game Boy is not a proper port of the NES game. To be honest it's a pretty different produce despite the same basis and gameplay.

This version features entirely different music, layouts, bosses, etc. You can only play as Peter, Egon, Ray and Winston - no 5th bonus GB Louis! BUT you can found the others in the levels to switch up and get power-ups, or simply if you need a character with more health. As well as Louis - despite being unplayable - who will give you bonuses!

The game is here only 3 stages long, skipping on most levels of the NES version. 

It's kind of like an extremely bugged and simplified version of its big brother on the NES. Your partner can't go through you and will block on the path most times, he has his own lives and dies quite easily, sometimes it will be such a huge chore to just make him go around you so you can capture a ghost... when he's not blocked off somewhere else behind!!

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

Title: The Real Ghostbusters also known as Mickey Mouse IV: The Magical Labyrinth and Garfield labyrinth aka Crazy Castle 4   
From Activision/Kemco/Kotobuki Systems

On Game Boy
Type Action/puzzle sidescroller
Year 1993

[Already reviewed here]

Overall: [Already reviewed]

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

Title: Extreme Ghostbusters  
From Activision/Light and Shadow Productions 

On Game Boy Color
Type Action Sidescroller 
Year 2001 

Developed by LSP for the Game Boy Color, Extreme Ghostbusters is an action game based on the cartoon of the same name. It was originally planned for a multi-console release, but in the end only the GBC port survived the production for some reason.

In this game you can play any of the 4 Extreme Ghostbusters; Kylie, Garett, Roland and Eduardo! Each bringing his own little subtleties to the gameplay.

In this game the city is being overrun by a load of ghosts roaming around. The goal is to take missions, linearly, and go around New York City to find and get rid of those ghosts.

The idea makes for a pretty decent sidescroller... but it kind of comes short in several aspects.

Be sure to read and remember the mission briefings - given to you by both Egon and Janine - at the start of each level or you might find yourself wandering around as you forgot if you had to either capture 11 or 12 ghosts and you missed one ectoplasm at the start of the level.

The game is about 20 levels long.

You can fire your proton pack in short rapid fires or the continuous stream. The packs use energy so grab more around the level. There are also traps to find around the stages which when used will prompt a 2nd GB to pop up on screen and throw it around. Slimer can also be found and works as a defensive shield.

You start the missions with Eduardo but can use select and A to change Ghostbuster. Both Eduardo and Roland mostly play the same. Kylie is slightly disadvantaged carrying less items but she starts with a trap equipped. Finally poor Garett, confined to his trademark wheelchair, cannot climb ladders... Or stairs... And there are a lot of those around for some reason! But he's fun to play nonetheless and can carry the maximum "proton packs".

Overall: The idea of this game sounds great on paper. Heck, the whole team is even playable - including Garett despite being disabled! (Winston for example was missing in so many old games...)

But the game has a lot of problems....

It has nice animations (even if Kylie's walk is a bit... weird). BUT it's such a very messy game to both control and understand graphically...

Messy graphics and pixel work. From an incomprehensible title screen to enemies and textures...

The controls aren't that better. Whenever you jump the focus goes back to the character who gets centered on screen. It's annoying and distracting.

At least the proton packs controls great on a 360° radius and the password system is a great help.

Lots of potential, poor result.

I give this one a: 1.5 / 3 Score!

Title: Extreme Ghostbusters: Code Ecto-1 or also simply Extreme Ghostbusters 
From Activision/Light and Shadow Productions 

On Game Boy Advance
Type Run & gun Sidescroller
Year 2002 

The second Extreme Ghostbusters game by Light & Shadow Production, Code Ecto-1 is an original title inspired by the animated series.

This one is one of these classic shooter/platformer kind of games. A Run & gun.

The plot roughly follows a demon named Count Mercharior who has kidnapped half of the Extreme crew (and wouldn't you believe it, the more "diverse" minority and disabled members). So now it's up to the two remaining Busters to save their teamates.

You can only play this time as either Eduardo and Kylie.

The goal is to capture the ghosts invading the city while looking after their missing friends. This game is about 12 levels, spread over 4 "worlds".

Most of the game is played from this sidescroller approach but there also are some top-down races, aboard the Ecto-1 (hence the title). These car segments are kind of reimagined driving scenes from the original 8-bit Ghostbusters in a way, where you drive from the HQ to the next location. Only this time it's actually playable. But they can also kind of drag on..

In-level you can chose to either destroy the ghosts or trap them. You can throw traps and bombs.

With the Left-trigger you can switch back and forth instantaneously between Kylie and Eduardo. They also have a distinct different feel from each other.

Overall: Finally a fun and actually playable Ghostbusters game! And all we needed was to wait for a Game Boy Advance title.

Sporting some decent graphics if a bit stylized (3D-rendered), which is strange since you'd expect a cartoon adaptation to be, you know, close to the show and cartoony. But it looks nice nonetheless.

It moves fast and plays great. The game also features a password system to pick up where you left earlier.

Despite lacking the rest of the Extreme Ghostbusters crew, it's certainly not lacking on the ghost busting front.

Very decent, colorful and fun. It's one of these rare handheld Ghostbuster titles I'd actually recommend.

I give this one a: 2.5 / 3 Score!

Title: Alienators: Evolution Continues 
From Activision/Digital Eclipse Software/Tuna Technologies 

On Game Boy Advance
Type Side-scrolling action game/Run & gun
Year 2001

Based on the short-lived animated series by the same name, itself based on the cult scifi/comedy non-Ghostbusters 2001 movie by Ivan Reitman, Alienators: Evolution Continues is another cartoon adaptation by Activision for the Game Boy Advance.

The game puts you in the role of Ira Kane (who was played by David Duchovny in the original movie), the main "Alienator". Ira has to help the General free a military laboratory complex all by himself, without any help from the rest of his team to keep the whole affair "under wraps".

You see they were experimenting with what was left from the alien invasion... anyways, now the entire place is overrun by mutant aliens evolving rapidly.

The game features 12 huuuuuge "open" levels. Non-linear maze-like stages to explore.

Several characters from the show pop up around the story. Read those objectives carefully or you might end up lost in these worlds looking for a missing keycard to unlock the new areas while you simply needed to collect all the discs in the beginning area.

You main weapon is an unlimited de-evolvo-ray-thingie-gun. You can also get better weapons scattered around, but it's best to keep the better ammo for the boss fights, there's about 8 of them.

You can also throw bombs to get rid of the creatures.

Overall: Simple enough in concept but fun, and pretty darn long for such a game.

Alineators (GBA) has some problems, mostly regarding unprecise controls that require some getting used to.

But it's actually a nice decent "little" game.

With huge levels and almost complicated layouts. Although some larger levels can get confusing.

It sort of reminds me of those gold old Jurassic Park games back on Sega's 16-bit console, or that Alien 3 video game.

My only complaint is that its lacking the rest of the cast as playable characters and the controls are a bit sloppy.

I give this one a: 2 / 3 Score!

And that is it for these Ivan Reitman-inspired Game Boy games!

As you can see, they're not that great overall, but some of those are almost decent while the others are downright awful.

They're just simple sidegames, all action/shooter sidescroller besides one exception.

For a decade there wasn't any new Ghostbusters related merchandising, but soon all changed when the franchise was brought back in its biggest and most ambitious title... But that will be for next time!

That's all for this time's Quickies!

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