We’ve gotten very mixed results of Nintendo games based on popular movies. They’ve ranged from fantastic (The Goonies II) to mediocre (Top Gun and Jaws) to dreadful (Rambo). Ghostbusters has been one of the most popular and loved movies of the decade, so naturally a Nintendo game based on the license would follow. If you’ve played the Commodore 64 version released four years ago, this game will seem eerily familiar, but in many ways it’s worse and even more expensive.
The premise of the game is you have started your own Ghostbusters franchise, which helps explain why none of the likenesses from the movie are present. You must earn enough money to pay back your $10,000 loan, and save New York City from Gozer and his platoon of ghosts. The objective within the game isn’t made clear and without the aid of the instructions (we’re starting to sound like Computer Entertainer) you’ll likely make little progress. Fortunately the manual is actually very helpful and lays out all of the information you need, but unfortunately the game is still a steaming pile of crap.
Much of the early parts of the game simply take place on the map screen. You control the Ghostbusters logo and you float around the city map looking for a place to enter. Playing as the logo sounds pretty exhilarating, right? Most areas are inaccessible right away. The screen also features ghosts floating towards the center building, raising the PK meter. You are given a hint, telling you that you need a Beam, which you can find in the shop where you can purchase items such as traps, ghost food, and other goodies.
However, you must drive there first. The driving sequence, like every other part of the game is long, repetitious and painstakingly dull. If other cars hit you you lose money, and if you run out of fuel, you have to get out and push the car. After making some purchases, you’ll be able to do more and eventually start catching ghosts. Trapping ghosts is not much more fun than the driving sequence, but at least you get to finally control the Ghostbusters, rather than the logo and their car.
If you’ve powered though and put enough time into this dreadful game eventually you’ll be able to enter the center building, the Temple of Zuul. Before you reach the boss Gozer, you must first climb 22 flights of stairs. This part of the game is nearly impossible, and beyond monotonous, as all 22 floors look identical. It was at this point I determined that Ghostbusters is the worst game I’ve ever played, and I’ve played a lot.
The graphics look only slightly better than the 4-year old Commodore version, but that’s not saying much. The backgrounds, ghosts, cars, and characters all animate poorly, which is inexcusable when compared to today’s NES competition. They look they belong on an Atari system, not the Nintendo. The music is a rendition of the well-known Ghostbusters theme song. The music itself is slightly below average, but the killing blow is that this one song plays over and over throughout the entire game. There are no other tracks, so you may want to mute the TV and put on some of your own music. Even if the music was catchy and the visuals looked amazing, the wretched gameplay would still sink this one.
I hardly expect every game out there to be great. Occasionally there’s going to be bad games that disappoint you. However, there is zero reason this game should have been released on the Nintendo. There’s not a single worthy component. The game is outdated, has ghastly visuals, and features only one song. The gameplay is bizarre, confusing, and not even remotely fun. Even last month’s dud, Milon’s Secret Castle, which I trashed with a score of 3, blows Ghostbusters away in every category.
Creating even a mediocre game out of the Ghostbusters license shouldn’t have been that hard. We are talking about a movie filled with action, great characters, and exciting settings. The laziness of simply redesigning the 4-year old, and already bad Commodore 64 version is pathetic. What makes me the most upset is that parents and grandparents will no doubt purchase this game for Christmas based on the name recognition alone. Playing this game will only result in anger, frustration, and tears. I just hope in the future Konami or Capcom gets a chance to make a new Ghostbusters game, because I believe a strong team of game designers could make a wonderful game based on this terrific movie.
Final Thoughts: Avoid At All Costs
Just say no to Ghostbusters! Avoid this one unless you enjoy playing the very worst of the worst. This Game Pak should be buried in the desert next to all of the Atari 2600 E.T. games. Literally buy any other game than this one.
Aaron got his NES in 1991 and has loved and collected video games ever since. In addition to gaming, he enjoys Stephen King novels, Twins Baseball, and his cats.