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.
Credits (Commodore 64 version)
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.
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).
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
Related Sites +
<moby developer="Dave Crane">David Crane</moby> presents the C64 version on the TV show <i>Computer Chronicles</i> in January 1985. (Youtube)
for ZX Spectrum: downloadable release; additional material; online emulation of game
Legends of the C64
Dedicated to legendary pioneering companies and programmers, includes an original article with additional reproduced articles from classic gaming magazines - featuring David Crane and Ghostbusters.
Lemon, a C64 game database
for C64: games, reviews and music
MSX Generation, a MSX game catalogue
for MSX: catalogue; cover art; additional material
Retro Remakes 2006 Competition
A complete windows remake of Ghostbusters was one of the entries.
Sega8bit, a Master System fan site
for SEGA Master System: artwork; releases; additional material
World of Spectrum
for ZX Spectrum: additional material; player reviews; magazine references; magazine adverts
- MobyGames ID: 2619
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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. 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.
Last modified February 27th, 2023.