GHOSTBUSTERS / Activision / NES
 
 
Man. The first Ghostbusters for NES is like a clinic on what NOT to do in game design.

The game starts you on this crappy map. You're represented by the Ghostbusters logo and these ghosts are coming from all corners to the Zuul building ("Zuul" building?) at the center. But you can't seem to interact with them in any way. Sometimes other buildings on the map flash red, but if you try to go in them, the game just says "You need a beam!"

Alright, so we'll hit the local Wal-Mart or whatever for a capture beam. Going to the store (or anywhere else) requires this driving scene where you dodge drunk drivers and try to pick up gas canisters to replenish your amazingly rapidly dwindling fuel. Be careful in the store though, because if you buy a beam then accidentally push the cancel button to sell it back, you end up with too little money to buy it again and I guess have to reset the game and start over.

Eventually you notice that your gas depletes over time rather than with how fast you're going, so being a sensible driver and slowing down to grab gas canisters is actually a terrible move that will have you running out of gas constantly. The best thing to do is position the car in the top-middle of the screen (where relatively few drunk drivers spawn) and just go balls-out full-speed everywhere. It's nearly impossible to grab most gas canisters anyway unless you're going really slow, and even then they're covered up by a drunk driver half the time anyway.

Once you actually have equipment, you drive around pressing up against buildings on the map, and some of them will flash red. That means there's a ghost you can capture (after yet another driving sequence.) You then get a little action sequence where your pest control-lookin' Busters throw a trap down and try to drag ghosts into it. Usually you can grab at least two or three, but if they decide to troll you and just hang out in a spot where you can't reach them, there's nothing you can do about it and have to pack up and go home. You automatically get money for each ghost captured, but until you upgrade to the "Super Trap" you also have to go back to Ghosbuster HQ (driving yet again!) and empty the traps before going to another building.

Eventually the game's internal rules start to actually make sense, once you experiment around for like 20 minutes and sort them all out. But there's just so much inexplicable, contrived, player-unfriendly shit going on. Why do the Ghostbusters start out with no equipment, and have to buy it from some random store? Why do we have to do so much driving? Why does gas run out so fast? Why can't you just pick up and reposition the trap when catching ghosts? Why are the controls such that it's so easy to accidentally "cross the beams" when you're trying to drag a ghost back to the ghost trap? Why in god's name is there only one song (a chiptunes rendition of the theme song) that plays the ENTIRE time? And why the hell am I grinding for money in a 1980s NES action game?

You can't really seem to die - if you run out of gas, the game just wastes your time making you watch the Busters push the car to the gas station, and if you hit drunk drivers with no money it doesnt seem to matter, and if you "cross the streams" your guys just collapse and have to retreat from that building back to the map. But if you let enough ghosts on the map drift into the Zuul building, they summon the Stay Puft man somehow, which I guess is game over. I guess the objective before that is to catch enough ghosts or buy all the equipment or something, and the game lets you into the Zuul building for the final showdown, but hell if I'm playing this peice of crap for that long.
 
 
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