Ghostbusters Head to Head – Review

Ghostbusters for the NES

1989 – Activision

Ghostbusters for the SEGA Genesis

1990 – SEGA

Ghostbusters 2 for the NES

1990 – Activision

New Ghostbusters 2 for the Famicom

1990 – HAL Laboratory

Ghostbusters isn’t just a movie, it’s a fixture of pop culture. Two cartoon series, a breakfast cereal, seemingly endless merchandise, a movie sequel and reboot (of which we do not talk about), and yes…video games. In this article we’ll be taking a look at the video game adaptations of Ghostbusters from the 8 bit and 16 bit eras and see if any of them aren’t just pure ectoplasm!

The Story:

Since virtually everyone is familiar with the story of these ethereal exterminators we’ll forego this section in favor of a brief explanation of what specific games will be covered. While there are several versions of the first Ghostbusters game (with slightly varying qualities), I will only be covering the more widely known NES port. Ghostbusters 2 and New Ghostbusters 2 (PAL and JP region exclusive) will also be covered as well as the SEGA Genesis entry.

 

Ghostbusters – NES

Ghostbusters 2 – NES

New Ghostbusters 2 – FAMICOM

Ghostbusters – Genesis

The Gameplay:

All of these retro Ghostbusters titles feature the obvious busting of ghosts, but they all approach it very differently. The NES original is the most ambitious with several modes of play including driving, ghost hunting, and….ugghhh….stairclimbing. None of these modes of play are executed well, nor are they any fun.

GB2 is much more straightforward. Straightforward side-scrolling without much emphasis on ghostbusting that has you mostly dodging floating obstacles and some levels featuring a more space shooter style of play.

New GB2 is level based as well and lacks very much variety, but is the most faithful to the source material and is what you would really expect a Ghostbusters game to be. It features a top-down perspective with some intuitive busting and trapping mechanics that’s actually enjoyable.

Finally the SEGA Genesis/Megadrive has an open level style that has you exploring various maze-like stages, busting the boss ghosts, and earning money to buy new gear. It also gives you the choice to play levels in whatever order you please similar to the Megaman series. Combat is typical fare of a 16 bit era game but is well done. 

 

Ghostbusters – NES

Ghostbusters 2 – NES

New Ghostbusters 2 – FAMICOM

Ghostbusters – Genesis

The Controls:

The NES Ghostbuster games are of course limited to two face buttons and are therefore very simple in design. One button either fires a weapon and one either jumps or traps a ghost. In terms of how they feel New Ghostbusters 2 wins with tight design of your partner characters trapping actions with the B button and can even be controlled by a second player!

Genesis Ghostbusters could be equated to something like the metal slug serious with multi-directional shooting and platforming. Items can also be accessed from the pause menu. Everything is tight and responsive here.

 

 

Ghostbusters – NES

Ghostbusters 2 – NES

New Ghostbusters 2 – FAMICOM

Ghostbusters – Genesis

The Graphics:

Original NES Ghostbusters isn’t anything to write home about in the graphical department. All the Ghostbusters appear identical and the ghosts are all yellow blobs with no variety.

GB2 is slightly better with the characters looking more like their movie counterparts. Nothing in particular really stands out though. New GB2 has some cute chibi style characters and some decent level graphics if only a bit bland.

Without a doubt the big twinkie here is the Genesis Ghostbusters. Detailed exaggerated characters, imaginative boss design, and nice diversity in level backdrops including a burning building!

Ghostbusters – NES

Ghostbusters 2 – NES

New Ghostbusters 2 – FAMICOM

Ghostbusters – Genesis

The Sound:

NES Ghostbusters literally just has the theme song playing on an endless loop. Incredibly lazy! The other two NES titles have much better soundtracks with chiptune versions of songs used in the actual Ghostbusters 2 film (sadly no On Our Own by Bobby Brown though). Genesis Ghostbusters has a few spooky tunes and is plenty serviceable.

 

The Difficulty:

The original NES Ghostbuster has what has been referred to as an unfair difficulty level. The final staircase section is next to impossible to complete, especially without a turbo controller to rapidly spam A and B fast enough. Any death will result in a game over and return you to the very beginning of the game.

Ghostbusters 2 is much more manageable but the final level requires you finish it several times over as each Ghostbuster with no actual final boss to be had.

New Ghostbusters 2 has a fairly balanced difficulty and allows you to respawn after falling in battle in the same spot much like an arcade game.

Genesis Ghostbusters is surprisingly challenging but gives you 10 continues and mini-bosses remain defeated after dying.

 

Ghostbusters – NES

Ghostbusters 2 – NES

New Ghostbusters 2 – FAMICOM

Ghostbusters – Genesis

The Verdict:

By now it should be obvious the 16 bit era was kind to the Ghostbusters property. For some the original game on NES is among the poorest of all titles on the console. As much nostalgia as I have for this one I have to agree. I would strongly recommend giving the 16 bit Ghostbusters game a play as well as New Ghostbusters 2 if you can get your hands on a cart or of course via emulation. Also as a side note, if you have yet to play the Ghostbusters game released for modern consoles featuring the full cast from the movies, i very much recommend that as well. It’s far and away the best Ghostbusters game ever made and has recently been remastered. So thanks for reading and keep bustin!!

Ghostbusters – NES

1 out of 5 TROGS!

Ghostbusters 2 – NES

2 out of 5 TROGS!

NEW Ghostbusters 2 – Famicom

3.5 out of 5 TROGS!

Ghostbusters – SEGA Genesis

4 out of 5 TROGS!

Ghostbusters Games - Which is your favorite?

GameTrog Review By

Eringobrad

Eringobrad is a perler artist and game enthusiast. If you enjoy retro games and art inspired by them find him on instagram and facebook.

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