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Ghostbusters (8 bit)


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First computer game I ever saw ... I think ... May have seen a couple of arcade games first, but don't remember them. But I watched my cousin play it on his c64 at Christmas '84 have been a gamer ever since. 

Got the Spectrum version myself when it was re-released around 88 or 89 and was pretty disappointed that it wasn't nearly as much fun and, I think, didn't even have the tune. 

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On 02/08/2020 at 17:07, Camel said:

Yeah I disagree, sorry. It was a big game and it was popular. I don't think it had any impact beyond that. Film licences existed before and would have happened after. 

I agree with your disagreement. It was a notable and very popular game - one of the best in 1984. However, games players mostly looked down their noses at a lot of other film licenses as they were cheap cash ins. If anything was likely to be a cheap knockoff game it would be a film license :) Usually you had to be on your guard in case they were  selling a crap game with a license plastered on top :D It may be apocryphal but the rumour was Ocean spent more on the license than the game dev in a few instances.

 

So I don't believe Ghostbusters (as good as it was)  had anything to do with the popularity (or legitimacy) of the 8 bit micros. The legitimacy of those platforms came from the slew of quality games that grew rapidly in number in the mid 80s when the programmers got to grips with them - Ghostbusters was one of that number. In the same year you had another film license in Alien ( a tense low graphics affair), Boulderdash was a smash, Bruce Lee was massively popular, Ancipital from llamasoft, Daley Thompson licensed on the Speccy and that is just a handful.

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God damn, I used to love this game... in fact to be totally honest, I still do. I was introduced to it on a mate's C64 back when I was at school, then in '89, when my parents bought me a Master System, Ghostbusters was the first actual cartridge I had for it - and it's a glorious port. The only thing I didn't like as a child back then was that now your Ghostbusters fired their proton streams straight upwards, so there was no chance of crossing the streams like you could on the C64, but I see now how it made for a tighter game. The extra two sections inside Zuul and battling Gozer (or Gorza, as the game calls her) were excellent additions.

 

I've definitely played the Amstrad CPC version at some point back in the day and seemed to remember it being pretty poor compared to the C64 one. I've definitely played the NES game and it's absolutely horrible. If you're playing this today, the C64 and Master System versions are the only ones really worth bothering with.

 

Arguably the whole thing had a bit too much of an impact for me considering I now own a full replica Ghostbusters uniform and equipment, and my number one stop when I finally got to go to New York for the first time last year was the Hook & Ladder 8 Firehouse.

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Argh, I bought Ghostbusters 2 with my own birthday money, a full price game. Utter steaming pile of shit. I think we got past the first level about twice, and then the multiload fucked up. Still angry.

 

I love the original, though. Used to play it on my neighbours' Amstrad 6128, then later found the Speccy version on a random copied C180 full of games, and played it a lot. Pressing B to stop the Marshmallow Man was a bit of a breakthrough.

 

Later I discovered the Master System Port, which is my preferred way to play these days. Looks sensational, and the bouncing-ball kareoke theme tune is such a good touch. Got to admit I never noticed the beam angle thing mentioned above.

 

I used to like driving really inefficient routes to the call-outs, just to enjoy the driving bits more (and suck up ghosts with the ghost vac).

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19 hours ago, Clipper said:

So I don't believe Ghostbusters (as good as it was)  had anything to do with the popularity (or legitimacy) of the 8 bit micros. The legitimacy of those platforms came from the slew of quality games that grew rapidly in number in the mid 80s when the programmers got to grips with them - Ghostbusters was one of that number. In the same year you had another film license in Alien ( a tense low graphics affair), Boulderdash was a smash, Bruce Lee was massively popular, Ancipital from llamasoft, Daley Thompson licensed on the Speccy and that is just a handful.

 

Yes, I think that there was a leap around the end of 84 / start of 85 where some real quality was coming in on the C64, especially from the US.  Beach Head,  Raid Over Moscow, Boulderdash, Ghostbusters, Summer Games, Impossible Mission were all coming over the Atlantic.  The actual Ghostbusters gameplay is basic, but the sampled speech and the singalong tune were a leap forward in game presentation.

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19 hours ago, Parappa said:

Atari XE version for me and played this a lot.  I rememeber it been very tought to work out what was going on but I think we go there in the end and catching ghosts was amazing.

Good conversion on the Atari micro. Very close to the C64 one.

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4 hours ago, RipePlums said:

The sequel can piss off though.

 

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God knows how many times I loaned this from the library, thinking it'd be better this time, somehow.

This must be one of the hardest games of all time. Also didn't it require a reload every time you failed?!

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New Ghostbusters 2 on the NES is fantastic though! A really fun game, well worth checking out if you haven't already. It's essentially a much better port of the GameBoy Ghostbusters 2 - you pick two Ghostbusters (Winston and even Louis Tully are selectable) and then go around a top-down view action game stunning ghosts with your first 'buster's Proton stream and then finishing them off with the second Ghostbuster's trap.

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22 hours ago, Darhkwing said:

Never get get past the marshmellow man in the c64 version. Just annoying to do so well and die everytime at that point.

 

The 2nd game was dog awful.

 

I used to slide in from the right from memory. Move right up to the building and walk left, the collision detection was a bit dodgy that side.

 

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Gave this a spin on the SMS the other night, had quite a good time. It looks fantastic, classic SMS aesthetic - black outlines, enough colour depth to make everything the right colour, but not enough to attempt shading/dithering etc. The music is well synthesised (great bouncy bassline), but a little wonky at times. Drives the game along, though.

 

I'd forgotten how frantic the game could feel when the ghosts are coming thick and fast. Got all the way to the Marshmallow Man at Zuul, but only managed to get one man through - presumably I needed at least two? After I failed I was given an account number to continue - contrary with that article linked above, which says the SMS version never gives you this.

 

The only real problem I had was remembering which button switched men and which button fired the trap. I got this wrong probably half a dozen times, and it just completely failed to be intuitive. I think it's because when you're first positioning your men, you press a button to say "I've finished positioning this man, give me the next", and that same button later becomes the fire trap rather than switch man button.

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Looking back at the context of the times, Ghostbusters (especially the C64 version) was a landmark game and rightly lauded as a classic.

 

Before it, there had been very few successful tie-in games that really captured the flavour of the license.

The Atari 2600 Aliens game is a prime example, a reskinned Pac-Man that only bore a vague resemblance to the film.

(The two C64 Aliens games - Activision's US version with multiple game-styles, and the U.K. Electric Dreams version with its claustrophobic first-person view - are great examples of different approaches that can be successful.)

 

But by not being a DIRECT adaptation of the film, Ghostbusters the C64 game is really grounded in the setting and feels like its own story running alongside the film. That was magical for the time, and still holds up. The later Mega Drive title shows how the focus shifted to graphical likenesses of the film stars but a more generic game-style.

 

When you watched the film, you wanted to be a Ghostbuster. David Crane's game let you start your own franchise, be slimed by the ghosts and deal with Mr. Stay Puft the Marshmallow Man. What's not to like?

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On 8 August 2020 at 18:22, Camel said:

How about Tron, the arcade game? Or Star Wars? Or are we only talking about consoles/home computers? If we're talking tie-ins and not just film licences, how about The Hobbit? 

 

 I was talking more about home consoles/computers.

Tron is a very fine game but incomplete (hence the later Deadly Discs arcade title). Star Wars you need that huge cabinet to get the full effect. The Hobbit was impressive for the time, building on what was happening with text adventures.

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It's a pretty easy game once you get used to the structure of it.

 

-Setup. Make sure you have one of everything except traps (have at least three) and the portable confinement system (not really needed.)

 

-PK level from 0 to 4999, go out there and trap as many ghosts as possible to consolidate your business. This is where the bulk of your money making takes place.

 

-PK level 5000 and up. Use this period to take out the Stay Puft with your ghost bait. As soon as he starts to form use your bait. Failure here can lead to massive fines from the mayor. After each successful bait go back and replenish your stock. He'll usually form once every 1000 PK points.

 

-End game. My trick on the C64 version was to approach from the right hugging the building and "sliding" in.

 

Edit, there's a great illustrated faq here https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/Ghostbusters

 

Ghostbusters_Animation.gif

 

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I have a soft spot for this game... Didn't play it until the Ricochet re-release on the Speccy, when the game design was already looking rather dated. And to be honest, my parents played it much more than I did, as my child brain didn't really 'get' how the game worked and navigate its (admittedly crude by later standards) strategy elements. However, I can appreciate what the developers were going for; like with ET on the Atari VCS, they wanted to portray a blockbuster film in games form without just copy-and-pasting the IP over a clone of a popular arcade game. And this worked better. There's some basic elements that suggest the later strategy genre and its countless sub-genres, and there's certainly a feeling of Ghostbustery-ness about the whole thing. So while the game isn't something I'd be motivated to play today on my retro gaming escapades, it's definitely one worth remembering.

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