With the new Ghostbusters game to be released this coming month, there’s no better time to run the rule over its original predecessor released some 25-years ago. Back in 1984, everybody’s job of choice was that of a Ghostbuster, thanks to the multi-million grossing smash film starring Bill Murray – spin-off merchandise sales went, as expected, through the roof, and the obligatory video game tie-in was, ‘shock, horror!’, actually quite good.
Because of the films popularity, any subsequent licensed videogame was going to sell stacks no matter what the quality (a problem that is never more true than with the current machines), fortunately Activision did a pretty decent job to bring it to our small screens – and what seems laughably poor now, I recall being pretty darn exciting ‘back in the day’. To be fair, Activision didn’t exactly help themselves out, with full page adverts claiming it to “follow the film with incredible accuracy”, but they did their best to bring the spirit and humour of the film to us wannabe Venkman’s.
The premise is basic, after equipping your vehicle with all kinds of gadgets (and all being loaded on by a little forklift truck being driven by an even tinier little man) you move around an overhead map of the city to the flashing building that’s about to be spooked good and proper, and then once you’ve arrived it’s time to try and trap the ghosts in your erm, traps. Of course it gets trickier and tricker as you progress around the city with more and more ghouls doing their best to make your life a misery. Unbelievably, tedium does begin to set after ooh, around five minutes but it’s all so gloriously simple and well nurtured you can’t help but love it to bits.
No film license from 1984 could possibly be without its moments of comedy though, its attempts to reproduce Ray Parker Jnr’s theme tune are admirable but inevitably ear-bleedingly poor, and the frequent self-congratulatory shouts of “GHOSTBUSTERS!” when you trap your ghouls are akin to someone with tourette’s bellowing down a cheaply manufactured megaphone. Play it or watch it online – I defy you not to crack a smile.
With so many film tie-ins being released with alarming regularity, so many fall by the wayside and get forgotten. The fact that Ghostbusters is so fondly remembered some 25-years on must count for something, it may be frustratingly basic and with less depth than a kiddy-pool, but it has undeniable charm and that certain something which makes it very much a cult game in my eyes. Mr Parker Jnr claimed regularly that he “aint afraid of no ghost”, well I may not be either Ray, but I’m certainly a bit scared by the garish collision detection, laugh-out-loud audio and the fact that it cost me £9.99 for the privelidge. But like the film itself, it remains something of a guilty pleasure that provides nostalgic glee in spades when its lighting up your TV screen. Superb stuff.