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

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Critic Reviews add missing review

Average score: 58% (based on 38 ratings)

Player Reviews

Average score: 3.3 out of 5 (based on 214 ratings with 8 reviews)

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

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 (1748) · 2004

Surprisingly playable, considering the limitations of the system.

The Good
Ghostbusters for the Atari 2600 was one of the last games published for the system, right around the same time the Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America, ushering the next generation of video game consoles. So, this game has a sizable advantage over other games on the system, since Atari programmers would have discovered many tricks to maximize performance on the system. But this game also was at a big disadvantage compared to other systems, especially what would become the third-generation console champion, the NES.

The graphics on the Atari 2600 version are much simpler than what you'd get on other consoles, but they are still recognizable for what they are supposed to be. You can tell a roamer from a slimer, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is as intimidating as it should be, and the plasma guns and traps are decent. You can recognize the Ecto-1 for what it should look like, although allowances must still be made due to the limitations of the system.

The music is particularly good for the Atari. It even had me bopping in my seat along with the music while I was playing, and the gameplay is smooth. The instructions booklet gives you all the information you need to play the game in only a few pages.

The Bad
There are still a few problems with the game that take some getting used to. The first issue is that you can't always tell when the round is finished right away. It would have helped if there was an audio cue, or a round finished screen, to let you know it's time to start a new game or buy more equipment for the next round.

It would help to have an indicator on the screen for how many traps you have remaining, or how many men you have left before you need to go back to the headquarters.

As I said earlier, the graphics are decent, but they pale in comparison to other ports of this game, so the fact that it was available on other systems guaranteed that they were going to be the better buy than this one.

And while the gameplay is smooth, it does get repetitive because you're only ever doing the exact same thing over and over. And finally, it's too easy for the slimers to escape over the reach of your plasma guns, so half the time you don't have a chance to catch them.

The Bottom Line
Overall, it's a fun game on a limited system. Even more fun to keep track of your best scores and try to beat it next time or compare with your friends. If your only gaming system was an Atari 2600, then this game would definitely be worth buying, but if you had any other system with a port of this game, that one would be more worth it.

Atari 2600 · by NixieLake (28) · 2022

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

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

You want to be a Ghostbuster?

The Good
This game was just plain fun. You got to blast the ghosts, and the sounds were impressive. I'd never before (and never since) had the PC speaker used to play clips like this game did. Most samples were directly from the movie, and they didn't even sound bad! This was the dawn of the sound card, but they still bothered to make the PC speaker folks feel welcome. I'm still impressed.

The Bad
It was short and pretty simplistic, but, that can sometimes be a good thing. :)

The Bottom Line
A nice quick dive into the life of a Ghostbuster.

PC Booter · by Kees Cook (26) · 2001

A cool little game, especially if your a fan of the movie...

The Good
Pretty entertaining. It'll keep you busy for a while trying to master the gameplay.

The Bad
Especially on the last level when your making your way to the boss, learning curve. So many old NES games were a lot more challenging to play, and you always hate it when you dump a few hours of work into something and lose it all to learning curve. Also, this game does have an ultimate time limit.

The Bottom Line
Kinda neat, a little challenging, but, all in all, pretty fun.

NES · by Cormana6868 (12) · 2004

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

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Tim Janssen, Patrick Bregger, Stelios Kanitsakis, Riemann80, Alsy, Jo ST, chirinea, Skippy_Chipskunk, S Olafsson, McTom, coenak, SlyDante, Scaryfun, ryanbus84, Ritchardo, Ryan DiGiorgi, Alaka, Martin Smith, sayewonn wisseh, Big John WV, Игги Друге, RhYnoECfnW.