The Real Ghostbusters

by John May, John White
Activision Inc
Crash Issue 64, May 1989   page(s) 12,13

Mr. Micro

Hi, we're the Real Ghostbusters, stars of TV, video, bendy toys (if you make any remarks here, Phil, I will hit you) etc, and now the latest computer game from Activision. In this ten level, action-packed game you too can become a Ghostbuster, joining us as we shoulder our proton beams and guns and set about saving the day (again).

As with the original game collecting ghosts is the objective. Unlike the original most of the ghosts start off as big and very aggressive monsters. Shooting them with your gun reduces the creatures to harmless ghosts, which can be collected with your proton beam (hold down fire). While bullets are unlimited, proton energy isn't and more can be collected via bonus items concealed in various obstructions - like oil drums and wheelbarrows (!?). Bonus items include shield, super bullets, increased beam energy and Slimer! Fans of the TV show will know Slimer's the ghostbuster's pet ghost with a ravenous appetite for 'foody!'. In the game the cute, green ghost circles around your character, sticking out his tongue and killing anything that touches him.

At the end of each level lurks a super baddie who makes all of the horrible denizens so far encountered look like beauty queens. These loathsome rejects from the lowest pits of hell are very tough and take many shots to dispatch. But once they're sent back to their master, a key appears which allows you on to the next multiloaded level.

Unlike the original game this is something of a masterpiece of programming. Graphics are extremely colourful, highly detailed and there's hardly any colour clash at all. Scrolling is relatively smooth in all directions and sound is effective, with a good title tune. Each level has at least two routes to the end-of-level monster and finding the best one is all part of the game. Other tactics involve use of the proton beam which not only collects ghosts, but also quickly destroys monsters. Making good use of the proton beam, without running out of power, is critical. And collecting ghosts isn't important only for points - some of them carry bonus items and if you collect 50 ghosts you get a life. This means when you're playing the game you're always torn between rushing to the end - to beat the timer - or staying around to collect more ghosts (which isn't easy). Once good at the game you can follow one route to the end of level, destroy the super monster, then go down route two to get more ghosts.

The only real flaw in gameplay is the two-player option. With such relatively big characters there's not far you can move without hitting the edge of the screen unless your fellow player keeps up, allowing the screen to scroll with you. Since there's such a lot of monsters waiting to ambush you the two player game is, on the whole, more irritating than fun. In addition the control keys for the second Interface 2 joystick have been messed up so you can't use two joysticks, and the key layout is poor as well. But still, if you really do want a two-player game, it is there - but all the marks are for the excellent one-player game.

In conclusion The Real Ghostbusters is an addictive and highly enjoyable trip into the cartoon world of everyone's favourite paranormal investigators.

MARK [90%]

The good thing about having a game based on a cartoon series in the office is you have an excuse to watch the cartoons on children's TV! But when the cartoons have finished you can carry on the story with this excellent conversion from Activision. Graphically the game couldn't be better, ghosts, backgrounds, characters - they are all beautifully drawn and animated. Do you remember the way the colour was done in Karnov? Well The Real Ghostbusters has been coloured the same way and it works a treat! There is tons of colour on the screen and hardly any clash at all - fantastic. Since the levels are all quite different there's a real incentive to see what the next one's like. Of course, all those wonderful levels mean a lot of multiloads but the code for them is all on one side of the tape, so at least there's no fiddling about trying to find level one when you die. You all must remember how well the first Ghostbusters sold and it wasn't really that good, so watch this game go right to the top!
NICK [90%]

There's this interesting tendency around the CRASH office for work to stop on a Monday afternoon, a tendency which owes more than a little to a certain cartoon TV programme! On a comparison with the original Ghostbusters game, this is absolutely brilliant. The graphics are very good, and sound is okay, but the reason I'd play Real Ghostbusters would undoubtedly be the playability; there's loads and loads of it! This is a compulsory purchase for all fans of the series (like me) and recommended for anyone else who likes a spectactular blast as well.
MIKE [89%]

Presentation: 88%
Graphics: 91%
Sound: 84%
Playability: 91%
Addictive Qualities: 90%
Overall: 90%

Summary: Ten big levels and spectacular graphics make for a brilliantly playable game.

Award: Crash Smash

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Crash Issue 87, Apr 1991   page(s) 50

The Hit Squad

Graphically, this is over the top with colours and shading, but is surprisingly playable and a fun sort of game. Basically, an arcade adventure with ghost shooting larks guaranteed!

Overall: 73%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 42, Jun 1989   page(s) 63

Reviewer: David McCandless

Ghostsbusters was the best selling computer game of all time. It sold endlessly in disgustingly large amounts to a population gone Ghostbusters gaga. Now, eager to reincarnate this spooky succes, Activision has tied itself up (honk) with the spin-off cartoon - The Real Ghostbustets, no less.

The cartoon follows the plot of the film fairly closely. The only big difference is that the four main Ghostbuster characters have been jazzed up with teenage appeal features, like oily quiffs and dry remarks about parents and puberty. The plain secretary in the story has suffered likewise, becoming instantly voluptuous and socially-aware. Also, that fat green 'disgusting little slob" ghost from the film has somehow become an ally to the Ghostbusters, and even pops up in the game...

The game? Well, it has practically nothing to do with the cartoon, just the odd ghost and occasional proton beam here and there make the connection. The tie-in sort of acts as a weak veneer to cover up the essential idea of the game shoot 'em up.

You play a member (members if in two player mode) of the Ghostbuster team, isolated from your chums, trapped in an eerie landscape populated by the gooiest, ugliest and moistest creatures you've ever seen or would ever want to see. Luckily, you're armed with a gun (plus infinite ammo) and a proton particle accelerator (laser gun to you) which has a limited charge.

The idea is to swan about each level, gun en garde (that's French), disintegrating demons, splattering spooks, massacring monsters, frying fiends... (That's enough alliteration Ed). Once shot, the creatures obligingly die, and then try to shuffle off this mortal coil in the form of ghosts. This is a cue for you to engage your proton accelerator and suck them into your backpack for the extra points.

At the end of each of the ten levels is the customary huge great gibbering monster. It requires a liberal dose of lead before its mortal ticket is punched. Once expired, it leaves behind a key, which unlocks the portal to the next level to be loaded in.

Bonuses can be found along the way. These are found inside objects like oil-drums, vases and wheel-barrows. They provide you with shields, extra shot power, proton energy and - most annoyingly - the appearance of Slimer, the spud-like spectre, who circles you, killing any creatures it comes into contact with.

The game uses the same graphic system as Karnov with big, brassy, multi-coloured sprites which move a character block at a time. The system worked in Karnov, but in this game the jerky four-way scrolling and movement seem painfully noticeable. Also, only a handful of the large range of monsters are well defined and animated, the rest are just depressingly mediocre.

This game had great potential, but is marred by the poor graphics which look, feel and taste bad. There's no real incentive for extensive playing. If the two player option adds anything, the unwieldy controls take it away. And the music is AWFUL.

Life Expectancy: 70%
Instant Appeal: 60%
Graphics: 65%
Addictiveness: 60%
Overall: 62%

Summary: Poor shoot 'em up that looks good in some places but plays bad in most.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Your Sinclair Issue 65, May 1991   page(s) 71


It's damp and it's dark
But it's always quite merry
When you're locked down the cellar

Hit Squad
Reviewer: Jon Pillar

About as real as Gordon the Gopher. The spooksome foursome lend their name to this one- or 2-player re-released shoot-'em- up which pits you against the biggest collection of ghastly 'Things'seen outside The Evil Dead. Memorable the first time round for the fast full-colour graphics (which, being well-designed and thankfully clear, still look good) the basic idea is to progress through the 4-way scrolling landscape, zapping the Things with your proton gun, then for extra points capturing the resultant ghosts with the proton beam attachment.

Naturally, some of the Things are too powerful for the gun, and equally naturally, the proton beam has only limited energy, so sniffing out the hidden power-up icons has a rather high priority. Battle through to the giant end-of-level nasty and then it's onto the next (multiloaded) level. For one player it's good but not great, as rushing around blasting everything in sight can get pretty repetitive. What saves TRG is the sheer variety of Things - there is nothing quite like legging it away from a couple of demons cos your gun is empty, rounding a corner and running into 20 or 30 slobbering zombies. For 2 players, let's ask our sample second player, my sister Rachel. "In 2-player mode the game is 17 times better, with the best co-operation-or-competition element since Gauntlet. The program can get a bit confused at times though, jamming player one when player 2 hits an obstacle, and the multiload's more annoying than the music from an ice-cream van. Oh, and it wouldn't load in 128 mode and the control keys on the inlay are wrong." Thank you, Rachel. So it's a big thumbs-up for TRG there (the 2- player part at least). "Can I have my money now?" No. (Slap.) Ouch!

Overall: 80%

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 86, May 1989   page(s) 18

Label: Activision
Author: In-house
Price: £8.99
Memory: 48K/128K
Joystick: various
Reviewer: Jim Douglas

Who ya gonna call? Well, not the Ghostbusters. The Real Ghostbusters in fact. It has to be said that I don't really understand the link or difference between Ghostbusters and The Real Ghostbusters. The most important difference between the games is that the first one which Activision brought out about three years ago was released was deemed to be pretty good though over-hyped, whereas TRGB has hardly had any exposure so far and isn't as good.

The ghosts are playing up again. It's up to the Busters to give them a good seeing to. Well, a good sucking to be precise (Fyak fnurk etc). Once you've got them in your sights you whack then with your plasma beam and suck them into your back pack. Once you've got enough ghosts in your pack, you've got to despatch them before moving to the next level.

All pretty straightforward on two fronts. While some of the ghosts are in "ghosty" form and just waiting to be sucked up, most of them are half way between ghostdom and monster-state. They'll attack you, slime you and otherwise resist capture. The other problem is that there are simply too many ghosts to handle at once. While you're holding down the fire button for a second or so in order to activate the Proton Beam, enabling you to capture incapacitated ghouls, you can't shoot the other monsters which will be attacking you. Some pretty shrewd strategy needed here.

Real Ghostbusters wins and loses on the presentation front. The graphics for the monster/ghosts are fab. They're colourful, and really look like the characters in the cartoon. Unfortunately, they all carry black mask-lines and suffer from attribute clash. I also feel that the nature of the screen layout, half plan-view with a side on presentation of the characters, could well have been improved. Even isometric 3D would have been better than this.

The animation is shaky to say the least. From time to time the guy you control simply appears in another position. I think there's a lag in the motion control and the machine registers your moves without updating the position of the character.

The further into the game you get, the tougher life becomes. You become even more heavily outnumbered and you'll have to start working out where the ghosts will and won't go, and try to herd them into trap areas.

Amongst the oil barrels and wheel barrows scattered throughout the play area are these vital objects which make your life just that little bit more bearable (Scotch, fags, etc. AS) like a super-shot rifle and even a friendly ghost which acts as a slimey guardian, fending off some of the bad guys while you do your work.

So what's the verdict? There are nice touches, but for every plus there seems to be a flaw.

Graphics: 65%
Sound: 70%
Playability: 60%
Lastability: 64%
Overall: 65%

Summary: Adequate conversion of TV cartoon. One for the fans only.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

Sinclair User Issue 110, Apr 1991   page(s) 36,37

Label: Hit Squad
Memory: 48K/128K
Price: £2.99 Tape
Reviewer: Phillip Fisch

When you see comments like "a brilliantly playable game... graphically it couldn't be better... this is a compulsory purchase", you sit up and take notice.

The packaging says that it got a Cr**h Sm**h - I can only believe that the game must've given their staff the willies in order to score such a mark.

The Real Ghostbusters, was arguably of the biggest loads of slime ever to be put out by Activision, who have since ceased trading and in retrospect SU was too generous in our original review, when we awarded it 65 and decided this coin-op conversion featured a combination of nicely designed monsters, absorbing action, shaky animation, loads of attribute clash, and lousy screen layout.

Basically it follows the format of the coin op, as you steer your Ghostbusters through ten levels of haunted buildings presented in a cak-handed sort of top-down perspective. You shoot the ghosties with your plasma beam and suck them into your ghoulie pack, which has to be emptied at regular intervals.

It's all a bit too frantic unless you're in two player mode, when each player can protect the other's back. But basically I wouldn't bother with it at all - this is a half-hearted effort and even Real Ghostbusters fans will find that it really puts the willies up them, as it's only a shadow of game.

Who you gonna call? No-one, that's who 'cos no-one's the only person who'll want to play this.

Ahhh! EEeeeek! Nooo, it's horrible, take it away - I'm scared, really scared!

Graphics: 45%
Sound: 57%
Playability: 45%
Lastability: 46%
Overall: 46%

Summary: Even hardened Real Ghostbusters fans will be hard-put to enjoy this spiritless offering.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

ACE (Advanced Computer Entertainment) Issue 21, Jun 1989   page(s) 61

Get slimed with Activision.

Who were the other impostors? The wised-up (or under-tens) amongst us will need no explanation, but for the rest, the story goes something like this. Ghostbusters the film became an Activision computer game (full price, then budget). Then in America a TV cartoon and comic appeared, featuring the GBs team and called The Real Ghostbusters, which arcade giants Data East decided would make a jolly coin-op machine, (see ACE issue Four). Now, Activision have too, so here we have it: the computer game of the coin-op of the comic-cartoon film spin-off.

You, and possibly a friend too (because it supports simultaneous two player action), have to fight your way through some ten levels of ghost-infested mayhem, collecting the nasty things with your Proton beam zapper. Before collecting the ghosts you have to shoot them first with your normal gun (a quick tap on the fire button) to turn them into nice, cuddly, fluffy white ghosts, before holding your finger on the fire button to trap them in the beam and draw them into your backpack.

There are benefits to be collected - from either ghosts or shooting parts of the scenery, such as oil drums - including a circling Slimer who acts a shield. If things weren't tough enough already, then remember you've got to complete each level within a time limit.

The collision detection is poor and the gameplay is bad: it's nothing more than an average shoot-em-up and is certainly not as much fun as the original Ghostbusters game.

Reviewer: Andy Smith

Atari ST, £19.99dk, Out Now
Amiga, £24.99dk, Imminent
Spec 128, £9.99cs , Imminent
Amstrad, £9.99cs, £14.99dk, Imminent
C64/128, £9.99cs. £14.99dk, Imminent

Predicted Interest Curve

1 min: 52/100
1 hour: 50/100
1 day: 60/100
1 week: 59/100
1 month: 20/100
1 year: 10/100

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Graphics: 6/10
Audio: 5/10
IQ Factor: 2/10
Fun Factor: 6/10
Ace Rating: 574/1000

Summary: Frequent deaths cause initial frustration, but one the levels are learnt progress becomes altogether easier.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

C&VG (Computer & Video Games) Issue 92, Jun 1989   page(s) 44

C64 £9.99, Amiga £24.99, Spectrum £9.99, ST £19.99

Activision, all those years ago, produced a game based on the movie phenomenon of the eighties - Ghostbusters. It did good.

Meanwhile, somewhere over in California. Data East brought out a coin-op based on the movie and called it The Real Ghostbusters. It didn't do astonishingly well and only a couple of units made it over here to Blighty - but that hasn't stopped Activision from producing a home computer version on every format they could think of.

Now the trouble with taking a mediocre coin-op licence onto home formats is obvious - faithfully convert it and all you get is a mediocre home computer game. Hardly surprising then that The Real Ghostbusters is highly unlikely to create a frenzy of excitement among the gameplayers of Britain. On all formats you get a jolly loading screen and the Ghostbusters theme we have all come to know and love - then you choose the one or two-player game.

The battle takes place on the top of a maze of high buildings - all with flat roofs. You leap from roof to roof via little ramps, taking out assorted ghosts goblins, etc as you go. You've got two types of fire - bullets that disrupt the physical manifestations of the supernatural and the old traditional plasma jobbie that draws the disrupted ghosties (now looking like traditional spooks), into the backpack. There are also rudimentary weapon power-ups that give your bullets some extra punch.

To complete each level, you saunter from rooftop to rooftop, blowing away and sucking up all the spooks while trying not to get killed - the aim being to get the big end-of-level nastie, therefore the key to the next level, before your time runs out.

This kind of simple stuff always works or not on the basis of the quality of the implementation; you know, the quality of the graphics, the speed and feel of the game, etc. Unfortunately, much of the implementation in this case, is sloppy, and the gameplay is poor. Strange things stand out - like the inexplicably blank bit of screen on the top right of the screen. Like (on the 64) the game automatically starting after the new load for each level - instead of waiting for you to press a key.

Even on the ST, which Activision considers to be the lead version, The Real Ghostbusters just doesn't sparkle, although the graphics start to approach the quality you'd expect of a full-price game.

Ardent collectors of Ghostbusters memorabilia won't be disappointed and anyone looking for a simplistic blast in conjunction with a boppy tune could be interested, but the discerning will hang on and wait for goodies like Power Drift and Ghostbusters II coming later this year.

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Overall: 56%

Summary: Where the Real Ghostbusters meet their greatest foe to date... the attrirbute clash!

Transcript by Chris Bourne

The Games Machine Issue 18, May 1989   page(s) 56

Spectrum 48/128 Cassette: £9.99


The cartoon gained the 'Real' prefix because it's supposedly based upon real people. And they're a strange bunch, too. The leader, Peter Venkman, is a bit of a slob and a fool, but enthusiastic idealist Ray Stantz makes up for this with his extensive scientific knowledge. In the particular field of electronics, Egon Spengler is a genius - but he's also a complete nerd.

Winston Zeddmore is the most down-to-earth of the 'Busters but is also the overly kind soul who got Slimer - a greedy green ghost - onto the team. The secretary, Janine Melnitz, tries to keep order amongst this wacky bunch. A build-up of psychic and paranormal energy has resulted in an outbreak of ghostly manifestations throughout New York. The terrorised public need the kind of specialised help that only Ray, Winston, Peter, and Slimer can give them.

One or two players guide the Ghostbusters upwards through ten multi-directional push-scrolling levels, armed with both guns and proton beams. Shooting turns creatures encountered into ghosts, which can then be gathered into the Ghostbusters' back-packs with judicious use of the limited-charge proton beam.

Some creatures or obstacles give bonuses: increased beam energy, increased shot power, aura power (temporary shield), or Slimer. At the end of each level a particularly nasty abomination (or worse, a number of them) has to be neutralised. In return, the key to the next level is given. It's interesting to see which weird monsters occupy the next level, particularly as some are so imaginatively designed. The home computer versions are sure to be - and deserve to be - more successful than the obscure 1987 Data East coin-op on which this vertically scrolling shoot-'em-up is based.

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Overall: 86%

Summary: The main sprite is outlined thickly and unattractively in black. On the other hand, some of the creatures are very well defined and animated, and use colour cleverly - almost as near to cartoon graphics as you can get on the Spectrum.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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