Ghostbusters (1984 video game)

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Gb box cover.jpg
Designer(s)David Crane
Platform(s)Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, MSX, NES, IBM PCjr, Sega Master System, ZX Spectrum
Genre(s)Action adventure game
Mode(s)Single player

Ghostbusters is a licensed game by Activision based on the movie of the same name. It was designed by David Crane, produced by Brad Fregger, and released for several home computer platforms in 1984, and later for video game console systems, including the Atari 2600, Sega Master System and NES. The primary target platform was the Commodore 64 and the programmer for the initial version of the game was Adam Bellin.

In early 1984, while the Ghostbusters movie was nearing completion, Tom Lopez, vice president of Activision's Product Development, contacted Columbia Pictures to obtain a license for a Ghostbusters video game. Columbia gave Activision no specific rules or requests for the design or content of the game, only stipulating that it was to be finished as quickly as possible in order to be released while the movie was at peak popularity. Activision were forced to complete the programming work in only six weeks in contrast to their usual several months of development time for a game. Activision had at the time a rough concept for a driving/maze game to be called "Car Wars", and it was decided to build the Ghostbusters game from it. The effort paid off as both the movie and the game proved to be huge successes.[1]


Ghostbusters (Activision) on the Commodore 64 (1984).

The player sets up a ghost busting franchise in a city with a rising Psychokinetic (PK) Energy level and has the ability to purchase equipment such as traps, or to upgrade their vehicle. The player then negotiates a grid representing the city. They need to stop the "roamers" from reaching the temple of Zuul (which causes the PK Energy level to jump). When the player moves to a city block that is flashing red, the game mode switches to an overhead view of the player's vehicle driving to the location. The player must move left and right to vacuum up the stray ghosts and avoid cars. The player then moves to a screen in which a Slimer ghost must be guided with two proton streams over a ghost trap.

If the ghost is successfully captured, the player's income increases. The aim is to have $10,000 by the time the city's PK level reaches 9999, wherein the Stay-Puff Marshmellow Man will appear and wreak havoc on the city, thereby ending the game. In some versions (e.g. the Commodore 64 version), after the first successful game, the player is given an account number, which stores the amount of money the player had at the end of the game. This allowed for purchasing more expensive items for use (faster cars, more traps etc.). In order to win at these games the player was required to have earned more money than their initial account balance. This is one of the earliest uses of passwords being used as a 'save game' feature on home computers.

Speech samples[edit]

Most versions of the game feature a sampled rendition of the "Ghostbusters!" cry at the start of the movie's theme song; on the C64 version, this was produced via a Currah Speech Cartridge. The PCjr/Tandy port does not have this feature.


Review scores
Sinclair User7/10[4]
Your Sinclair8/10[5]
Home Computing Weekly5/5 stars[6]
ZX Computing6/10[7]
Sinclair Programs40%[8]

Antic in May 1985 called Ghostbusters "the first adaptation to capture both the feel and the theme of the movie on which it is based ... most enjoyable to play".[9] Edge in 2007 called Ghostbusters "dauntingly good", noting that despite the action sequences expected of a licensed title, the game was a "polished, intelligently-paced", strategic business simulation.[10] Ernie Hudson said, "My kids really hated [the Commodore 64 game]. They thought it sucked."[11] In 1985 it and The Print Shop were reportedly the two most widely pirated Commodore 64 programs.[12] II Computing listed Ghostbusters eighth on the magazine's list of top Apple II games as of late 1985, based on sales and market-share data,[13] and it was Activision's best-selling Commodore game as of late 1987.[14]

The Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum versions of the game was included on the 1986 compilation They Sold a Million 3,[15][16] along with Fighter Pilot, Rambo and Kung-Fu Master. The game was also released on The Story So Far Volume IV in December 1989, and Hollywood Collection in December 1990. It knocked Daley Thompson's Decathlon from the top of the UK Spectrum sales chart.[17]

Ghostbusters was ported to the IBM PCjr and Tandy 1000 in 1985. Due to timing-sensitive raster effects the game uses, it is incompatible with Tandy machines other than the 1000/1000A, 1000HX, and 1000EX, all of which use a 4.77Mhz 8088 CPU.[18]

The NES version was created in association with Works (later changed their name to Bits Laboratory).[19] This version was panned by critics, gamers and fans alike for its monotonous gameplay, sloppy controls, and lack of connection to the original film. An enhanced remake of the Spectrum version was released as freeware for the PC in 2006.[20]

Nintendo Entertainment System version[edit]

Ghostbusters (Activision) on the Sega Master System (1987).

The game was also released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988, (1986 in Japan) and the Sega Master System in 1987. These versions featured added gameplay after the Ghostbusters sneak by the Marshmallow Man. It played more like a conventional vertical scrolling platform game, where they were to actually climb the stairs to get to the roof. However, in the NES version, the Ghostbusters could not fire their weapons nor trap any of the ghosts and had to instead sneak by all the floors. In contrast, in the Master System version, the Ghostbusters are able to shoot the ghosts with their proton streams to temporarily make them go away. The NES version is considered more difficult for this reason.

At the end of the NES version, the final screen states: "Conglaturation!!! [sic] You have completed a great game. And prooved [sic] the justice of our culture. Now go and rest our heroes!".


An enhanced remake of the Spectrum version was released as freeware for PCs in 2006.[21]


  1. ^ "Richard Camfield - Retro Gamer". Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  2. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  3. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  4. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Ghostbusters". Archived from the original on 1 January 2016. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  6. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  7. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  8. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  9. ^ Bernstein, Harvey (May 1985). "Ghostbusters". Antic. p. 81. Retrieved 8 January 2015.
  10. ^ Edge (2007-05-04). "The Making of Ghostbusters". Next Generation. Archived from the original on 28 October 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2007.
  11. ^ Ellie Gibson (10 July 2008). "Eurogamer: Ghostbusters' Ernie Hudson Interview". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  12. ^ Peterson, Cheryl (August 1985). "Editorial". Ahoy!. p. 5. Retrieved 27 June 2014.
  13. ^ Ciraolo, Michael (Oct–Nov 1985). "Top Software / A List of Favorites". II Computing. p. 51. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  14. ^ Ferrell, Keith (December 1987). "The Commodore Games That Live On And On". Compute's Gazette. pp. 18–22. Retrieved 24 January 2015.
  15. ^ "They Sold a Million 3 - World of Spectrum". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  16. ^ "They Sold a Million 3 for Amstrad CPC (1986) - MobyGames". MobyGames. Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  17. ^ "World of Spectrum - Archive - Magazine viewer". Retrieved 30 October 2014.
  18. ^ "VOGONS • View topic - Ghostbusters". Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  19. ^ GDRI - Workss/Bits Laboratory Archived 2007-11-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Ghostbusters". Classic Retro Games. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 22 May 2009.
  21. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]