Friday, October 29, 2010

Retro Game of the Day! Ghostbusters (Genesis)

Retro Game of the Day! Ghostbusters (Genesis)

Ghostbusters for the Sega Genesis, released in 1990 by Sega.

Here is a game I was very skeptical about piking up. After being very excited for (and then disappointed by) the flawed NES title of the same name 2 years earlier, I had my guard up somewhat. However, Ghostbusters for the Genesis had a couple of very good things working in its favor; it was released quite early into the lifecycle of the system (there weren't too many character-action titles released by that point) and the screenshots made the game look like it could be quite fun (and it definitely didn't look anything at all like the Nintendo title). Starving for some new excitement on my Genesis, I rushed down to Toys R Us and scooped the game up.

Happily, I was surprised. Ghostbusters was not only decent, but quite good for it's time. The subject matter lent itself quite well to videogaming, and was done complete justice in this game (even if it wasn't quite 1:1 faithful to the actual license - but that didn't really matter, so long as the gameplay was solid!) The game is basically a run, jump and shoot action/adventure title, where you explore differently-themed buildings (the typical "worlds" of the day.. fire level, ice level, etc). Different minibosses must be sought out and defeated, and then the stronger level boss would have to be taken down as well.

It was a very early Genesis title, and so the screens look rather drab now; but at the time, this was a graphically very clean, impressive-looking game to witness. Creatures were well-designed and animated, the main characters were somewhat of the super-deformed style (which was still novel, and therefore looked rather strange). Bouncy, sometimes haunting music accompanied the action, and there were plenty of cool weapons/pickups and associated effects. It was a very nice package, and bode well for what was to come on the system.

Gameplay-wise, Ghostbusters had a little bit of a Mega Man vibe to it, between the way the game was laid out and the control of the character. It was also rather a difficult game, especially in the later levels: in this game you needed to be patient and skilled to take down your rivals. Perhaps worst of all was the lack of a save for password, in true old-school style you had to make it through the whole game in a solid sitting.

Ghostbusters by Sega was a nice surprise, almost an apology for the NES version and really a precursor for what to expect in other character action games (such as the excellent Castle of Illusion). Most importantly, the game still holds up nicely today, even if it is a little old-looking. A very acceptable use of a prominent license.

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