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 212 ratings with 8 reviews)

Who ya gonna call?

The Good
This game was pretty fun in its day, you can even sing along with the Ghostbusters theme song on the title screen (a nice little word prompter ball :) Basically you drive from house to house ridding the city of ghosts. You have to maneuver the two ghostbuster's energy streams around the ghosts then set off the trap to catch em'. Oh yeah, while you're driving to each location, if a vacuum cleaner is purchased and installed on your car, you can suck ghosts up off the road. I never did beat this game but I think you fight the marshmallow man later. I think its in one of the screenshots.

The Bad
Ahhh, its a game for C-64, why complain about it? It was an all-around pretty fun game for its day.

The Bottom Line
A good game thats worth a play.

Commodore 64 · by OlSkool_Gamer (88) · 2005

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

Let me know when we get to twenty. I’m gonna throw up.

The Good
I love Ghostbusters. It was an enormous part of my childhood. Then it became an enormous part of my adolescence. I’ve dressed as a Ghostbuster for Hallowe’en for years. This is why it breaks my heart that most games based off of the movies and the cartoons are so abysmal. Some of them reach into the realm of passable, but a good Ghostbusters game is outlandishly rare. Out of all the Ghostbusters licensed games that I’ve played, I’ve come across two that I really like; “New” Ghostbusters 2, and Ghostbusters: The Video Game. So where does that leave this, the NES interpretation of the first movie?

It’s my opinion that the reason most Ghostbusters games are bad is because the developers don’t seem to know what being a Ghostbuster is all about. If the game is about running around and blasting ghosts into submission, it completely misses the point. Ghostbusting is a job. It’s an extremely awesome job, but a job none the less. Luckily, this game gets it right. You go out on calls, cruise to your destination in Ecto-1, wrangle a ghost, and suck it into a trap. Then you get paid and spend it on better equipment. Okay, so in actuality the Ghostbusters made their own equipment, and having a store sell it to them is a little strange, but it works from a gameplay perspective.

The game’s setup is pretty simple. It sort of follows the story of the movie, but doesn’t really explain any of it. Psychokinetic energy is on the rise, which can only mean one thing, Gozer’s coming to town and the Ghostbusters are the only one who can stop him/her. To do this, the team must gain enough money by busting ghosts to buy the equipment needed to climb the Shandor building (named the Zuul building in this game, for whatever reason) and defeat Gozer. It’s a race against the clock, since you only have a short amount of time (about a half-hour to an hour, maybe) before Mr. Staypuft arrives to wreck the town.

There is something pleasing about the game’s methodical pace. Perhaps it’s because it treats Ghostbusting as a skill you must build up to succeed. There’s a sort of realism to the game. After fumbling a few catches and crossing the streams a few too many times, you’ll find yourself catching ghosts faster and faster, gaining more and more money to buy upgrades. The buying of upgrades allows you to see your company expand. It’s very satisfying, to an extent. However, this is sort of offset by the repetitiveness of it all. It’s always the same type and number of ghosts that you’re trapping, so there’s very little variety and challenge. However, since each game only lasts around a half-hour, things never really get tedious.

The Bad
One of my high school chums had a Ghostbusters movie poster on his wall which featured three Ghostbusters; Ray, Peter, and Egon. Yes, that’s right, Winston Zeddemore was strangely absent. I couldn’t help but find that strange. Sure, Winston only appeared halfway through the movie, and his role wasn’t as big as the others, but what the hell? He was the fourth Ghostbuster. He helped save New York, so you can’t just forget him! Big surprise, he isn’t in this game. Yep, once again, Winston has been pushed into the background and doesn’t even appear in the movie’s officially licensed game. So what? You can’t include a black Ghostbuster? I know you didn’t use up the entire palette, and I can tell that there aren’t enough sprites on screen to fill a whole chart, so what is it? Laziness? Or are you just racist, Activision?

Speaking of palettes and sprites, this game has some of the worst graphics I’ve ever seen on the NES. From both an artistic and technical standpoint, this game looks like shit. The NES has a pretty limited colour palette, but Ghostbusters doesn’t even try to use it all. Ghosts are only one colour, backgrounds are bland and severely lack detail, and the Ghostbusters themselves look like they could have been rendered on an Atari 2600. Every bit of background scrolling in this game is in a single direction with extremely repetitive tile patterns. I can understand that the NES’s limitations are difficult to work around, but it’s like they didn’t even try. It’s not just bad, it’s amateur.

While we’re on the topic of amateur, I feel I must bring up a small complaint. The driving sequences in this game are insultingly simple and poorly programmed. Here’s a helpful tip, move your car to the very right hand side of the road and speed up to full. Now, you’re free to take a sip of tea, or take a bite of your sandwich, because you’re not likely going to hit anything. At full speed your car actually uses the exact same amount of fuel as it would at its slowest speed which is absolutely baffling to me, and I have no idea why you would ever even slow down. Cars spawn at very sparse intervals and move across the screen very choppily. Oh, and get this; the only scenery that you see on the side of the road is the exact same fire hydrant that passes way too frequently. It’s as if you’re driving through a forest of fire hydrants.

You like the Ghostbusters theme song, right? Sure, everyone does. However, and this may shock you, having an 8-bit version of the song looped at you over and over again is really maddening. There’s only one song and it doesn’t let up. It just keeps replaying. It’s not even a very good rendition of the classic tune either. It’s not particularly bad, but you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate its flaws. The song doesn’t even loop properly. It just starts over from the beginning. At least this way, you’ll be able to count how many times the song plays as you descend into madness. Granted, you could just mute the game and replace the soundtrack with, for example, Chopin, but you shouldn’t have to. Having one song in the entire soundtrack is completely inexcusable.

Do you remember that scene near the end of Ghostbusters where they had to climb up all those stairs? Well you may be happy to know that the developers of this game managed to capture the slow agony of climbing those stairs with heavy equipment on. In order to reach the end boss of this game, you must first climb a seemingly endless staircase while being pelted by ghosts. That seems bad enough, but to make things worse, you must do it by repeatedly pressing the A button for every baby-step you take. Who the hell thought that was a good idea? It’s stupid and I hate it. To make things even worse, the stairway level is next to impossible to complete. Further adding to the frustration, if you die, you don’t get to start from the bottom of the stairs, you have to play the game over again to make another attempt. The only way I can imagine beating this game is by using a controller with an auto-fire or being really hardcore and playing the game repeatedly.

The Bottom Line
While I concede that this game at least got the concept of Ghostbusting right, it’s just too bad that it gets so weighed down with laziness. It’s uncanny; this game fails out loud in just about every aspect. It looks like crap, it’s as frustrating as hell, it’s poorly programmed, and it somehow manages to make the Ghostbusters theme sound annoying. If you really must play this game, get the Sega Master System version, since it fixes a few of my complaints. The NES version, on the other hand, is simply excruciating. It is so offensively AWFUL that I recommend you stay away from it. In conclusion, I suggest you store any Ghostbusters NES cartridges in extreme conditions, or immerse them in water. It's the humane thing to do.

NES · by Adzuken (836) · 2010

[ 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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Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Old man gamer.

SEGA Master System, NES added by PCGamer77. ZX Spectrum added by Martin Smith. Atari 8-bit added by Terok Nor. Commodore 64, Atari 2600, Apple II 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 17, 2000. Last modified January 3, 2024.