I’ve mentioned in previous articles that Ghostbusters is my favorite film of all time. And to be honest, I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Ghostbusters II as well. Sure, it pales in comparison to the original, but c’mon… it’s Ghostbusters.
And of course, there were plenty of Ghostbusters video games. You’d think the series would translate well to gaming… but instead, we got screwed over and over. Ghostbusters on the NES was one of the worst games of all time, and Ghostbusters II was hardly better. This, plus two tepid Real Ghostbusters games for the arcade and Game Boy, made us wonder if we would ever get a decent Ghostbusters game.
Little did we know that the answer lied overseas.
New Ghostbusters II was released on the NES in 1990… but only in Japan and Europe. Developed by HAL Laboratory, also known for the Kirby franchise among others, New Ghostbusters II is the game we all hoped for.
The game is drastically different from any Ghostbusters game before or since. For one thing, you can actually choose your Ghostbuster, including Winston, who was strangely absent in many other games. You can even play as Louis Tully! All characters play the same, so just pick your favorite. Even if you’re playing solo, you have to pick a second ‘buster as well.
The first stage is the courthouse. The control is simple: A button for proton pack, and B button for ghost trap. The first ‘buster you picked is the main one you control, and the one who fires the proton beam. The second uses the ghost trap, and moves into the proper position automatically. You can also play with a friend, who will take up the trapper role. The controls are tight and quick to get the hang of, and overall it’s quite fun to play.
Though the graphics are fairly simplistic, the game looks undeniably good for its time… certainly better than the Activision games, at least. The top-down perspective and overall graphical style reminds me a bit of Pokemon.
Your goal is to make your way through the stage and capture all the ghosts. There’s a few different kinds of ghosts, from Slimers to the runner ghost, and each behave differently. One hit kills you, so you need to stay on your toes… the game can be pretty challenging if you’re new to it.
They did a pretty good job recreating key scenes from the movie, or at least adapting them to video game form… for example, the finale of the tunnels takes place aboard the ghost train, where you bust severed heads. Pretty gruesome for NES.
The true stage boss is Slimer, dressed as a conductor. It is a little odd how Slimer’s a villain in this game, since he was more of a heroic character in the movie. Once you bust him, the train disappears and the stage ends.
Overall, New Ghostbusters II is a pretty damn good game. So this raises the question: why the hell did it never come to America? Well, sadly, Activision held the rights to Ghostbusters games in the US at the time, leaving us with this crap instead. A similar fate befell the solid Super Back to the Future II game, never released in America due to other companies holding the american rights. Assholes.
If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, I recommend you give New Ghostbusters II a try. If you happen to have a top-loader NES, European games will play just fine. If not, you can buy a gorgeous reproduction cart from Timewalk Games.
That’s all for New Ghostbusters II, but there’s still another great Ghostbusters game to talk about…