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Ghostbusters – The 8-bit Videogame

Posted by Big Boo on July 15th, 2009

ghostbusters-c64The original Ghostbusters videogame was created by David Crane (creator of legendary Atari 2600 game Pitfall) for the Commodore 64, although versions also appeared for the Spectrum and Amstrad home computers too.

The game had several sections to it and took most of the main elements of the original film as inspiration, although it added a few new ideas of its own.  You were starting up your own Ghostbusters franchise and the idea was to make as much money catching ghosts as possible.

You started with limited funds with which to equip your business, and had to buy a car and ghost busting equipment to begin with.  A choice of four cars ranging from a Volkswagen Beetle to a sports car are available, as well as good old ECTO-1, although you could only afford the Beetle the first time you played.  Ghost equipment included the obvious stuff such as ghost traps but also add ons for the car including a rather odd vacuum cleaner that sat on the bonnet to suck up ghosts!

Once kitted out you were presented with an overhead view of the city.  Buildings start to attract ghosts so you must guide your little Ghostbusters sign to the haunted houses to do battle.  Once a building is selected you then get to drive your car, catching ghosts with the ghost vacuum if you have it.

At the end of your journey its time to catch the ghost, which meant deploying a trap and then controlling two Ghostbusters with their proton packs firing.  This was done by edging them closer together until the ghost, which was bouncing wildly around the screen, got stuck in your proton streams above the trap.  Care had to be taken, of course, not to cross the streams, as nobody wants to have all life as they know it stop instantaneously and have every molecule in their body explode at the speed of light, do they?

Once all your traps were used you needed to return to Ghostbusters HQ to empty them, then it was back to the city map.  As the game progressed the PK energy rating of the city was displayed at the bottom of the screen.  This was really just a timer, and as it climbed upwards towards the maximum value of 9999 the city would slowly be destroyed by the Marshmallow Man, who would appear and stomp on some of the buildings if you didn’t catch the ghosts quickly enough.

One the PK energy of the city peaked the game was almost over.  You were taken to a building with the Marshmallow Man jumping from side to side over the entrance.  You had to get two of your Ghostbusters into the entrance in order to get to the top of the building and close down Gozer’s entrance.  You were then told how much money you had made, and given a code (presented as a bank account number!) which allowed you to play again starting with more funds.

The game featured some sampled speech, which was very unusual for that time given the limited processing power and audio chips of the computers available.  The game yelled “Ghostbusters!” at you on the title screen, and also featured a number of chilling laughs and the classic phrase “He slimed me!” for when you took too long to catch a ghost.

But the thing I liked most about the game was the title screen, which played the Ghostbusters theme tune and displayed the lyrics to it, complete with a little bouncy ball telling you when to sing the words.  Relive it below in all its glorious SID chip glory below!