HEY, ANYONE SEEN A GHOST?
What better way to guarantee a successful software package than to wait until the film, book and T-shirt have all 'gone down a storm', before wading in with your own product while the market's still eager. When Ghostbusters - the movie - began it's successful sweep of this country, Activision launced a version of the eponymous computer game for the CBM 64. Now, after the 'Ghostbusting' thrill has died down a bit, the Spectrum version of the game has appeared - but, as Ross Holman and Dave Nichools are unhappy to report, it just hasn't got the panache of the CMB version. Messrs Holman and Nicholls draw their paranormal conclusions...
You're shown an area of New York on-screen, that seems to be positively teaming with ghosts... and their fate's in your hands. Buildings on the map that flash red denote the presence of a Slimer; at this point, it's your task to steer the Ghostbuster's symbol to the scene of the psychic disturbance. The longer you take to reach your destination, the longer you spend driving the car in the next sequence of the game. If all goes quiet in the buildings, you can opt to do a bit of spring-cleaning and vacuum up a few of the ghosts floating around. However, you must stay alert for the 'Marshmallow Man' warning and quickly drop some Ghost Bait; if you manage to avert the danger, the Mayor will give you that S2,000 reward.
There's no way you can stop the Keymaster and Gatemaster on their relentless journey to Zuul - just make sure that your bank account is healthy to the tune of S10,000 when they meet. Otherwise, you lose!
All the floaters, as well as the Gatemaster and Keymaster, are heading towards the Temple of Zuul. It's also where you'll end up for the final confrontation.The ghosts, or 'floaters', fly in from each corner of the map. Don't let their slowness tool you as they first enter the map - they speed up and, pretty soon, all hell's let loose!If you run out of traps, your busters have all been 'slimed' or your backpack's run out of energy, you'll need to head back to Ghostbusters Headquarters (GHQ).This familiar-looking symbol is you... the dots that follow it trace the path to your next location. Look out for floaters on your travels, as you'll score extra cash for hoovering them up in your Ghost Vacuum.As you pass by a building, it may begin to flash a lavender colour - which means that, although there might not be a ghost on the premises yet, you won't have long to wait!This is where you really get down to the Ghostbuster business. As soon as a building starts flashing red, you can be sure there's a Slimer causing some trouble...In the later stages of the game, you'll be wishing you'd bought a Marshmallow Detector to warn you that the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man's in town! Once you've got him in your sights, you've got to lay a trap with Ghost Bait to catch this lovable fiend.
"Professional paranormal investigations and eliminations..."
That's the aim of the game. You're given a S10,000 loan to start your franchise, and the first thing you need is a decent set of wheels. The vehicle and equipment selection stages of the game are done well, although they do lack the variety of colours available on the Spcctrum... and the tele-typewriter style of printing text gets extremely tedious after a while.
The VW Beetle
This vehicle's cheap, but it only carries five items and chugs along at a mere 75mph It's not really that good a buy as it won't hold all the items you can afford to purchase and it's so slow that you'll be reaching for those abort keys quicker than you can say Gremlins. Of all the monitoring equipment on offer, the Image Intensifier is the most useful, allowing you to keep a constant watch out for those Slimers.
The Hearse/Station Wagon
Both of these vehicles are good buys, but the extra speed offered by the station wagon could be considered by some to be worth the inflated price tag. The capture equipment on offer is all too important - be sure and purchase some Ghost Bait, and a Ghost Trap is pretty essential as well. The Ghost Vacuum will allow you to suck up the spooks when you're out roaming the streets.
The High Performance Sports Car
The high-performance sports car offers a 160mph top speed and allows you to carry up to seven items . This, and the Portable Laser Confinement System (an expensive alternative to individual Ghost Traps) is only for experienced busters with a very healthy bank balance. (I found that the Ionizer Backpacks ran out of power after five or so captures, thus makng a trip back to Base a necessity anyway. It might be worth investigating whether carrying plenty of Ghost Traps is a cheap and effective viable alternative to owning a PLCS.)
"I ain't 'fraid of no ghost!"
Ghostbusters Headquarters is the base for all 'busting' operations and a building that'll become all too familiar as you play the game. Whenever you need new back-up busters, fresh backpacks or traps, a message scrolls across the bottom of the screen telling you to return to GHQ. On arrival, three new Ghostbusters - raring for action - trot out of the door and into the "buster-mobile'. It's a shame that the Ghostb jsters look so stick-like, especially when the majority of graphics are fairly good
"Gotta run, gotta date with a ghost."
Once you've guided the Ghostbusters symbol to the building that's being haunted you have to drive your vehicle along the streets sucking up any Roamers you may come across on the way, there's not much else to do at this stage of the game - I recommend you buy a Ghost Vacuum, if only to prevent you falling asleep at the wheel! It grieves me to say it, but the musical element that make the game so good on the CBM 64 is well below par even for the Spectrum. Oh, to be tone-deaf! Don't look too closely at the graphics at this stage either!
"Try to imagine all lite as you know It stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Total protonic reversal."
That's what happens if your 'busting team manage to cross the ionizer streams while trying to trap a spook, so be careful! To avoid such accidents, remember to walk your 'busters right up to the building (or the streams won't reach very high up) and drop the trap in the middle of the screen. Now manoeuvre one of the team to the far right and one stage right, and face them both inwards - you're now n a position to bust a ghost'
"He's an ugly little spud, isn't he."
And he's difficult to catch too! The Slimers flit about most unco-operatively and you ofter have to wait quite a while for the right moment to start blasting. Two techniques can be employed to trap the Slimers. First off, you can advance both 'busters and trap the foul Slimer under the canopy of the streams; watch out, though, that it doesn't escape between the streams. The second, and recommended method is to wait for the Slimer to be just on the inner-side of one of the busters, then turn on the beam and advance towards the trap.
"We came, we saw. we kicked its a*s!"
If you spring the trap just as the Slimer moves over it then - Hey Presto! - one less 'Class 5. Full-Roaming Vapour', and up goes the cry (and it's bad enough to bring tears to the eyes) GHOSTBUSTERS! If, however, something didn't quite go as planned, then prepare to be 'slimed'. With a bit of practise, though you'll soon manage to avoid this unpleasant experience and the cash will come rolling in. Then if you've got more cash than you started with when the city's PK level reaches '9999', you'll have to start the final journey to Zuul.
"Oh sh*t! It's the Stay-Putt Marshmallow Man"
Yes, guarding Zuul is the great Marshmallow Man himself, and obviously a very funny character if you live in America! However, in the game as in the film, this character's no joke... he can stamp on you! The idea of this part of the game is to sneak two of your 'busters past his bouncing mass; if you mis-time things slightly, don't be surprised it they're squashed underfoot. But, if they make it, then it's congratulations all round and you're given a unique account number which you can use next time you want to play the game. For some reason, you never get to see the summit of Zuul - but maybe that's being saved for the sequel. As a game, Ghostbusters is about average, and I'm sure the film will generate a large market for it. I'd like to be able to say it's better than the CBM 64 version ... but it's not, and that's a great shame as it'll be a great disappointment to a lot of people.