Retro Review: Ghostbusters (Megadrive)

MDGB_5Time once again to delve into the vaults for a Friday retro review. This week: The Megadrive is 25 years old this week, so I head out bustin’ — because it makes me feel good.
If you’re a child of the 80s, this is probably going through your head right now. So let’s get it out of the way now, shall we?

If you find that mystifying, then no amount of explanation is going to cover it.
That out of the way, there have been some fine Ghostbusters games over the years. I have a special fondness for the David Crane-designed 8-bit classic, which I personally first encountered on the Sega Master System.

The Megadrive game, though, is one that I’ve oddly only owned for a few years. It reviewed moderately well back in 1990 when it first came out, but escaped my attention until I randomly came across a copy while wandering around Akihabara. It’s easier to spot games if you don’t read Japanese when the cover is in English, after all.

Squint really hard and you might make it out on the shelf

Ghostbusters (Megadrive): On the plus side

If there’s one thing that Ghostbusters gets right, it’s the look and feel of the Ghostbusters world, and the ‘Busters themselves in particular. They’re super deformed, but instantly recognisable with it, which isn’t always the case.

This is what happens when you inflate Bill Murray's head with helium.
This is what happens when you inflate Bill Murray’s head with helium.

The music is right. Everything is in place for a classic run and gun experience, even though that doesn’t feel very ghostbuster-esque. I can definitely see the appeal in pitching a Ghostbusters shoot-em-up, because those proton packs do fire out a lot of energy.

Ghostbusters (Megadrive): On the minus side

Sadly, Ghostbusters has dated, and I’m not talking here of the on-again/off-again romance between Venkman and Barrett.
(kids, ask your parents).
Coming at it with a 2013 perspective, and, I’ll admit, only having owned it for a short period of time, its shortcomings become quickly apparent. Jumping is exceptionally floaty, collision detection is overly broad and level design tends towards the mundane. The deformed characters are cute but terribly over-exaggerated, and somewhere along the way Winston Zeddemore has gone missing as well.

It was the 90s. Busting into an MC Hammer dance routine was a thing that happened all the time
It was the 90s. Busting into an MC Hammer dance routine was a thing that happened all the time

You do buy powerups as you go, but there’s little in the way of skill progression to go along with it. Compared to the many run and gun style games of the era, Ghostbusters is terribly generic. It’s the kind of thing I’d expect to see as a free Flash game somewhere, and that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Ghostbusters (Megadrive): Pricing

As a licensed property — and one that’s changed hands in the meantime — Ghostbusters is, like many of the games of its era — a game that you can only get in cartridge form.
It shouldn’t cost you all that much to own a copy; my own cost, if I recall correctly, around 50 yen, although a very quick trawl of eBay suggests that there are plenty of opportunists looking for around $50 for a copy.

Ghostbusters (Megadrive): Fat Duck verdict

Bustin’, as you might have gathered by now, makes me feel good.
Ghostbusters for the Megadrive just leaves me feeling slimed.

About the author

Alex Kidman is a multi-award winning Australian technology writer, former editor at Gizmodo, CNET, GameSpot, ZDNet, PC Mag, APC, Finder and as a contributor to the ABC, SMH, AFR, Courier Mail, GadgetGuy, PC & Tech Authority, Atomic and many more. He's been writing professionally since 1998, and his passions include technology, social issues, education, retro gaming and professional wrestling.

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