Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Oct 27, 2004
Platform  :  Apple II
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Some Games You Just Have A Soft Spot For.

The Good

When "Ghostbusters" came out in 1984, it became (and remains) one of my favorite movies. When it was announced that David Crane, the maker of "Pitfall" was making a computer game version, there was an overwhelming need to own this game.

The premise is unique. The bank gives you the funds needed to open your own Ghostbusters franchise. You choose the car, the equipment, and have to patrol the city in order to keep it ghost-free and enough money in your account. As things get closer to a meltdown in New York, players have to attend to multiple hauntings all over the city as well as frequent visits by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and the looming threat of the Gatekeeper and Keymaster. It retained all of the main elements of what made the movie so popular, right down to the theme song and crossing the streams. Though sparse by today's standards, the graphics were recognizable, and had some fun animations to them.

The Bad

The main thing that remained tedious about gameplay was the car scenes. They were long and offered very little to do, unless you bought the Ghost Catcher for your car. The early versions of this title haven't aged as well, certainly not in comparison to the superior Sega Master System version, which allowed more diversity in driving, a stair climbing scene, more items, and a showdown with Zuul. But the SMS version had the advantage of being a port of a game that was 3-4 years old at that point, hence the improvements.

There's really no ending for the Apple version. A quick door closing scene, and a wordy "You Win" message. Also laying Ghost Bait to stop Stay-Puft seemed rather hit or miss at times as to whether it would work or not.

The Bottom Line

All things aside, this was one of the much-anticipated games for my Apple IIc, and the business-minded approach to the game was definitely novel, with some elements of strategy used to catch the ghosts. Of all the Ghostbuster games available, this is still the most fun of the lot, and I wish some version of it would resurface for the current generation of consoles.

For a time when movie-based games had very little to do with their subject matter, "Ghostbusters" made a genuine and competent attempt to bring the fun and cleverness of the film home.

It may not have gameplay that's fully stood the test of time, but it still provides some enjoyable moments.