aka: Car Wars, Cazafantasmas, S.O.S. Fantômes
Moby ID: 2619
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Description official descriptions

Based on the 1984 film of the same name, the Ghostbusters are the ones to call to "bust" any ghost hauntings. They do this through the use of nuclear-accelerated "proton packs" and "ghost traps", whereby the ghosts can be captured and transferred to a secure storage facility at their Headquarters. However New York City has suddenly become a very haunted place, and the number of ghosts has suddenly and dramatically increased. The Ghostbusters must reduce the paranormal psychokinetic energy, the "PK level" in the city, which represents ghost power, before the Temple of Zuul awakens and resurrects an evil goddess called Gozer.

Ghostbusters is an action game that features an overhead-view and a side-view. From Ghostbusters HQ, the player must monitor a map of midtown Manhattan for "ghost alarms", as well as for casual, roaming spirits, and plot a route to the alarmed area. Once the route is plotted, the player then controls the purchased Ghostmobile as it drives through traffic. Here, the player is able to capture casual ghosts on the way if they are en route. When the haunted location is reached, the game switches to a side-view. Two of the Ghostbusters will take position, activate their proton beams, and toss a trap to the ground. The player must then use the two Ghostbusters to attempt to lead the ghost(s) over the placed trap. Once activated, the trap springs to capture any ghosts directly above it. A successful capture will earn the player money, which can then be used to purchase new Ghostbusters vehicles and new modifications for it. An unsuccessful capture will see the ghost fly away (after nastily sliming one of the Ghostbusters).

As the game progresses, the PK energy in the city increases. The Ghostbusters must keep it under critical levels by being constantly successful at busting ghosts. Eventually the Temple of Zuul will activate, and if the PK levels are still manageable, the Ghostbusters can venture there for a final showdown with Gozer.

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Credits (Commodore 64 version)

Additional Programming
Graphics Design



Average score: 58% (based on 38 ratings)


Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 211 ratings with 8 reviews)

suprisingly fun

The Good
If this is the one I'm thinking of, it was sort of a cult classic back in it's day; one of the well-known designer David Crane's works, it was a short, although addictive, arcade game. There was a PC junior version, though I don't think it worked on the regular PC systems of the times.

The Bad
It's been a long time, but I'll try...It was pretty short, though this was back in the 2600 days, so games were either really short, or unbelievably repetitive.

The Bottom Line

PC Booter · by Andrew Carter (12) · 2001

Not as bad as some people may make you think...

The Good
Well, first of all, I like the Ghostbusters quite a bit. I loved both movies to death, and bought them on DVD once I got the chance later. The first Ghostbusters game I played was on commodore 64, and it was AWESOME!

So, I found out later that another version of the game got released for the NES, needless to say, I picked it up right away (or rather my mom did for me) and it was good. It played almost exactly like the commodore 64 version which I was happy about, but it also added in some new features that were pretty cool.

The first thing I would like to mention is, in a way this is an early version of business sim games. You start your own franchise and have to purchase gear to get to busting ghosts, in which to make more money, all while stopping the dreaded Gozer, and it's minions.

Well, the first different thing about this version from the com 64 was that you didn't start with any gear, and you only had one vehicle you had to drive the good old Ecto-1, which was fine by me, I love that car. Instead, you have first drive to the Store in order to purchase some equipment with your loaned 10,000 in order to begin your ghost catching business.

The other changed thing is the driving scenes. They are more evolved this time and feel a little like an arcade game, your car is displayed smaller on the screen giving you room to move forward for speed, and back for slower speed. Also, you had to dodge bad drivers (ghosts driving?) or you would owe them money which was directly taken from your stash of cash.

Also, you had gas this time, so you have to drive to the gas station once in awhile in order to fill up the Ecto-1 and continue busting ghost.

I could go on and on about the changes, but I'll save you the time and say that it feels more evolved game wise and business wise, and is pretty darn fun.

The Bad
Well... I don't like the newly added Stair climbing scene. It's really slow... I MEAN REALLY SLOW. You have to hold forward and press the A button over and over again in order to go up the stairs and it's really boring and much too hard. Not to mention it really starts to kill your thumb.

The ending is *** as well. It just Congrats you on a job well done (in a funny but poor translation paragraph) so it feels like everything you did was pointless. It wasn't though, if you like business games, you most likely enjoyed yourself catching ghosts and making loads of cash.

The Bottom Line
It's an early business sim. So most people look at how dated it is, and how weird it looks (just look at the screen shots on this web site) and think that it is boring, and to some it probably is. If you like tactic business games like me, you will enjoy it most likely.

I rate it a 8/10. It's not as good as the commodore 64 version, however it is good on it's own. Thumbs up!

NES · by leon101 (44) · 2007

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.

Apple II · by Guy Chapman (1746) · 2004

[ View all 8 player reviews ]



From Brad Fregger, Producer of Ghostbusters:

The game developers at Activision would often take the afternoon off to see a new movie that was exciting to us. One day we all decided to see Ghostbusters on the opening day. After the movie David Crane (Pitfall and Pitfall II) announced that he was going to do the game. As a founder of Activision, he had the power to get the wheels in motion and within a week we we're beginning development.

Crane had already been working on what would become the game, and made a beta version with the driving and franchising elements, but it wasn't until getting the Ghostbusters license that he had a setting for those game elements. The title screen sing-a-long feature of the computer version was not added until the week before the game was finished. In Retro Gamer 25 Crane mentioned that the game was created in six weeks. Normally it wouldn't be possible to create a game in such a short amount of time but Crane had a working engine of a racing game Car Wars. Thanks to the resource allocation segment that was embedded into the game, it was easy to replace guns, missiles and rockets into more Ghostbusters themed armaments. In the same issue of Retro Gamer Crane said that the original version of the game was created in 1984 on C64 and later, in 1985, it was ported to Atari 2600, Amstrad, Spectrum and MSX. SMS version appeared in 1987 and Mega Drive in 1990 however none of the people who were involved in creation of the original were not participating in the works over the last two versions.


Like the cartoon based on the movies, Activision was not allowed to use the likeness of the actors that performed in the movie.


The game title music and speech based on the original theme music from the movie written by Ray Parker Jr.

NES version

The NES version of the game differs in a few ways from its computer counterparts. First, the driving sequences feature a "zoomed out" perspective, meaning that the Ghostbusters car is smaller on the screen and that there is more road to manuver over. Also, gone is the ability to purchase different vehicles (which was in all versions of the game). By contrast, there are more items to buy and equip from the shop than other versions. Finally, the NES version features a unique Temple of Zuul sequence at the end of the game where the Ghostbusters must slowly climb the stairwell of the building to the rooftop, avoiding the touch of enemy ghosts that fly around.


According to the magazine Retro Gamer (issue #1), the game was Mastertronic's #2 best selling game (412.922 copies).

Winston Zeddmore

Interestingly, the game does not portray, or even reference, Winston Zeddmore – Ernie Hudson's character in the film, and the sole black Ghostbuster. He does later appear in the game version of Ghostbusters II.

ZX Spectrum versions

  • Spectrum first version
    • In the rush for a pre-Christmas release, the Spectrum version did not work with the popular Kempston joystick interface. Even worse, the game crashed on selecting this joystick add-on. According to ACE (issue #15), thousands of copies had to be replaced with a working version.
  • 128K version
    • Two years after the 48K release an enhanced version of the game appeared. The only new addition was a funky AY version of Ray Parker Junior's theme song.


  • Happy Computer
    • Issue 02/1986 - #4 Best Game in 1985 (Readers' Vote)* Zzap!
    • Issue 01/1985 - #6 It's the Zzap! 64 Top 64!

Information also contributed by BurningStickMan, Garcia, Scott Monster and WildKard

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Old man gamer.

NES, SEGA Master System added by PCGamer77. ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Atari 8-bit added by Terok Nor. Atari 2600, Apple II, Commodore 64 added by Servo. MSX added by Игги Друге. Amstrad CPC added by Katakis | カタキス.

Additional contributors: Brad Fregger, Sciere, Alaka, Martin Smith, François-Patrick Arteau, Macs Black, c64fan, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Lain Crowley, Jo ST, FatherJack, ZeTomes.

Game added November 17th, 2000. Last modified November 4th, 2023.