David Crane‘s 1984 adaptation of the hit film Ghostsbusters was also a big hit on the video game scene too. It hit number one on the sales charts for most home systems and is still talked about to this day.
The Commodore 64 version was the first one released.
The C64 version of Ghostbusters does have arguably the best musical rendition of Ray Parker Jr.‘s famous hit single, plus the clearest digitised speech out of all the versions. It also arguably has the best gameplay out of all the versions of Ghostbusters available.
The aim of the game is to make more money than you start out with, and you do that by catching ghosts. You buy your car and ghost-busting kit before driving out to vacuum up “Roamers” as they make their way to the Temple of Zuul, and “Slimers” who haunt individual buildings. If you haven’t seen the film then you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about… Go and watch the film if you’re confused. You’re unlikely to be disappointed.
On the city map, if a building flashes red that means it’s being haunted and you have to drive there as quickly as possible to catch the ghost that’s doing the haunting. Making sure you have some traps equipped, the idea is to arrive on the scene; place a trap underneath the ghost, then fire your twin beams to shepherd the ghost into the ‘catch zone’, before finally springing the trap. If you do it right you’ll catch the ghost and load it into the car. If you do it wrong, one of your men get slimed.
When the car is full you must then return to base to offload your caught ghosts, then go back out looking for more trouble.
Every roamer that makes it to the centre of the screen (Zuul’s temple) bumps up the city’s PK (Psycho-Kinetic energy) level, and haunted buildings that are not dealt with also do the same. When the PK level reaches a certain point the Stay Puft monster appears and trashes a building. The cost of the damage being deducted from your cash totals. When the city’s PK level reaches 9999 the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster meet and then one of two things happen: either you enter the building in the centre of the screen for a showdown with Zuul, or the game ends in failure. The bank then decides your fate.
In the C64 version, after beating the game once, you are given an account number that allows you to restart a new game with the same amount of cash that you finished the previous game with, allowing you to buy a more expensive car at the beginning. This was one of the first examples of passwords being used as a save game system in a video game. It’s almost like a “New Game Plus” mode…
Ghostbusters is a very simple game overall, but if you know what you’re doing you can keep it going for quite a while. It’s all about earning money, keeping those ghosts in check, and not getting bored in the process. 🙂