With The Real Ghostbusters, Data East manages to cross up the Ghostbusters license with games like Alien Syndrome, Ikari Warriors and Commando, coming out with an overhead-view shooter that isn't terrible but suffers greatly from over-difficulty.

The game was available in two- or three-player cabinets. The Ghostbusters are surprisingly heavily armed in this one - you get some sort of small rocket launcher that fires infinite shots, and can be upgraded as you go by picking up icons lying around and carried by some of the ghosts. You also have the beams, which appear to be safe to cross in this one. In spite of all this heavy weaponry, however, the Ghostbusties still topple over at the slightest touch of any baddie, or even any road obstacle that looks halfway menacing.

The beams are far and away the best weapons, easily annihilating anything they touch, but you only have a finite amount of "juice" and limited opportunities to refill. Of course, this game favored the rich kids by letting them plug in an extra quarter at any time to buy 1/3 of their beam juice back. The game bears only the most cursory resemblance to the movie, with most of the enemies consisting of demon and goblin enemies who literally give up the ghost when they die. Capture 100 of these spirits with the beam and you get a free life.

The Real Ghostbusters is one of those irritating early arcade shooters where you can't fix your fire in a direction and then move in other directions simultaneously, but have to be pointing at what you want to shoot at. This means clumsily turning to dodge attacks and then trying to awkwardly round about on your enemies is the order of the day. This combined with the absolute swarm of beasties, and the fact that you take only one hit before keeling over, makes the game just a little too tough and too quarter-draining to be really appealing. It's not particularly graphically or aurally impressive even for the time period, and even die-hard Ghostbusters fans here might not find enough in common with the movie to appreciate, but it is a fairly solid shoot-em-up and may end up entertaining you anyway, providing you've got either MAME or deep pockets.

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* Gameplay Video