Monday, 14 April 2014

Ghostbusters (C64)

You too can sing alone, in 3...2..1.."Repetitive Music.... repetitive music"

It's odd, but there's a lot of conflicting views around this particular game, more specifically based around which port of the game you happen to be playing. Some will slate and attack the Spectrum version, others will lambast the NES, some will applaud and love the Megadrive (.......genesis) version while I'm taking a look at the C64 version of Ghostbusters.

At least one of the cars lets you pretend you're in the film. It's shit too.

Let's start off. "GHOSTBUSTERS" and that's the digitised speech coming from the faithful old Commodore 64 (k of ram I'll have you know) and introduces us to the splendours and wonders that are voice synths. Followed by a slightly charming rendition in SID of the original theme tune with bouncy-dot lyric sing-a-long session for those thinking they bought a karaoke set instead of a game. And it might even work at first.

Whoo I caught it, only about 40 or so to go... for fucks sake.

The sad part is that this is the ONLY song in the entire game. On loop. You'll relish the start and end of the game where it's silent. At least, not at first. The novelty of humming along while singing "something strange...... in the hood.... call.... GHOSTBUSTERS!" while trying to recollect the full words and option just to belt out the chorus. While singing dee-duuh repeatedly in time with the music. Ray Parker Jr must be spinning in his grave... Or will be some day.

"He Slimed Me!" Sounds great, gives you a chuckle, you'll be ripping your hair out after the 5th time

The game itself is firmly based around the film (ignoring the library scene) where in the game takes place having bought and set up the company, you then get to decide upon which car you want to buy, which upgrades to install upon it and then set yourself off to playing the actual game. You've your traps to catch ghosts, a vacuum to suck up the ghosts on the street, marshmallow sensor to detect a Marshmallow Man attack, bait to stop him attacking building (which you WILL need and get a bonus few thousand on successful preventions), glasses to make the ghosts easier to see (instead of behind the backgrounds) and if you've the cash, a portable containment field to reset traps (you'll only need 1 and never need replace it).

Part of the driving experience, racing down the road and sucking up ghosts.

You start with 3 men and will have to drive to HQ if 2 of them get taken out (read: Slimed, with voice synth for it too) and have to visit the HQ if you fill all your traps (or not if you have the VERY expensive portable containment unit). Gameplay is broken down into 3 parts. Firstly, you have the map, which shows your logo, part of New York City including Zuul, the key master, the gatekeeper and 4 wandering ghosts. During the game these ghosts will make a straight line for Zuul and if they get there, they'll boost the PKE reading, which is your in-game timer. The higher it goes, the faster they move. They can be stopped by you running you logo into them but the further you go, the longer your next car drive will be as you're planning your next car trip.

Replenished. Notice the lack of Winston in the game. Racist developers.

This however, does not get the cash in. The money (to repay the bank loan at the start of 10,000) comes from visiting buildings and removing Slimers. A bit like in the film where you'll have to wait for a call, try to get there in time before it fucks off and/or slimes one of your people. Each Slimer will net you a few hundred dollars and then you're back to hunting more Slimers, stopping ghosts and baiting Marshmallow Men.

Me vs a big fat man. It's bed time all over again.

The game quickly devolves into getting to a red flashing house, dropping the trap, running a man to the left, running one to the right, launching the streams (don't cross them) and trapping the ghost (hopefully) in a long series of mini-games that don't really deviate aside from the backgrounds shown at each building. The map section becomes repetitive until the Marshmallow Man shows up and usually will catch you off guard unless you're fast enough to hit the bait button and net your few bonus thousand dollars, or it causes a building to break apart and you get stiffed with the fine for it.

Mwahahahahahaaa... Now you don't have to play this game. Incidentally, "spoilers"

Once the game picks up speed with the ghosts moving faster, more calls being registered and quickly enough, it becomes much more intense and worth playing, just a shame it has to start so slowly and leave you waiting quite a while for something to actually happen. The lack of difference between Slimers makes you feel like you're not really removing an issue but the spectral form of catch and release, in essence cheating people out of their hard earned cash as you become the slackers of the ghost catching community.

So... fucking... boring... Crossing the streams kills both men, let's do that!

IF (and it's not always going to happen) you raise enough cash by the endgame, you've seen the various Marshmallow Man attacks and been summoned to Zuul after the key master and gatekeeper have met (and they serve no real purpose on the map aside from just BEING THERE to show a sort of urgency that leaves you guessing "no really, what's the fucking point?"), you get to attempt to get into Zuul past the badly dancing Marshmallow Man. You've 3 lives and you need 2 to get into the building by running through his legs. Once 2 are in, you've done it. You kill Zuul, destroy the gateway and wreck up a building in the process while the game gives you more cash to play over with better equipment and cars. (Since you can't buy car #4 at the start)

It's nice at least to see a huge sprite like this adorned with all the items you ACTUALLY bought.

But would you want to? Not likely. You might save the state or write down the code and MAYBE give the purple car a go to see it race through the streets quickly, which then leaves you waiting even longer periods of time between ghost calls, a curse as much as it is a blessing. Beat it once and you'll likely never look back again.