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Video Game / Ghostbusters (1990)

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A side-scrolling action game developed by Compile for the Sega Genesis, based on the Ghostbusters franchise.

Taking place after the movie, work has dried up for the Ghostbusters after defeating Gozer. However, a rash of earthquakes has started a new wave of ghost activity, and customers are lining up outside the Ghostbusters HQ desperate to get the spooks out of their homes. The Ghostbusters, eager to earn some money, get back to work. But what is the source of all these ghosts? And what are these strange tablet fragments they keep finding at every job? Can they decipher the script and stop the haunting of New York?

The game itself is a side-scrolling platformer where you explore each stage, blasting ghosts and navigating hazards. You need to find and bust the 'Middle ghost' midbosses before the boss ghost will reveal themselves. You get paid for each stage cleared, plus bonuses for each ghost destroyed and a sizeable bonus for each middle ghost successfully captured. This money is used to buy food to heal yourself and upgrades to your equipment.

In 2023 the game received a fan-made update called Ghostbusters: Special Edition. It adds various features like new difficulty settings, along with Winston as a playable character.

Not to be confused with the earlier 1984 video game released by Activision.

This game has examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Winston Zeddemore is nowhere to be seen in the game and isn't even acknowledged.
  • The Artifact: Buying items and pack upgrades and "driving" to haunted locations are holdovers from the original game.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The "Barrier" upgrade, which makes you invincible but drains energy fast.
  • Bandage Mummy: Every time your character loses all his health, he will become covered in bandages.
  • Beat the Curse Out of Him: You must battle your possessed teammates in the Castle level. In order to dispossess them, you must get behind them and damage the very visible possessor.
  • Bedsheet Ghost: Appears in the form of white tablecloth ghosts. As in: the tablecloth floats off the table, comes toward you, and "ties you up" if you don't shoot it down in time.
  • Bizarrchitecture: Most of the levels. Especially considering that they’re supposed to be homes. The game attempts to justify it by claiming an earthquake struck the day before.
  • Blackout Basement: The burning building level, which for some reason is bathed in pitch-black darkness note . Luckily, you CAN buy an Infrared Scope (read: Paragoggles) at the Item Shop. They're only useful on that one level, and the batteries wear out.
  • Boss Rush: In the final level, the player has a rematch with every previous level's boss, minus Stay-Puft, before the final boss fight against Janna.
  • Bubble Gun: The bubble projectile, which can carry ghosts away to somewhere else. Depending on how good your jumping skills are, this may become useful in the Woody House, as there is one type of ghost (a blue fire porcupine) which isn't affected by any of the other weapons.
  • Cartoon Bomb: Smart bombs, which can destroy all ghosts in the immediate area...until they respawn behind your back.
  • Competitive Balance: Peter, Egon and Ray all have their own atributes. As the select screen will point out.
  • Continuity Nod: The Banshee in the Apartment bears a passing resemblance to the Dream Ghost from the first movie.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: The inferno in the Woody House doesn't seem to hurt the player character unless he touches the fire itself...then again, the fire is the work of ghosts. Charmingly, the Boss Areas seem not to be on fire at all.
  • Counterpart Artifacts: The "Eye of the Flame" is a red jewel that, when placed in the assembled tablet, opens a deep hole that's a portal to the World of Evil. The "Storm's Calm" is a blue jewel held by the final boss that closes the portal when placed in the tablet.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: Four Boss Ghosts hold the pieces of a stone tablet. The fifth holds a red gem that, when placed in the center of the tablet, causes a gigantic hole to open right in the middle of New York City. The final boss holds a blue gem that, when placed in the center of the tablet, undoes the damage.
  • Dueling Player Characters: The player is given a choice between Peter, Ray, and Egon at the beginning. The two that are not picked will later be fought as bosses with the in-story justification of being possessed.
  • Elemental Embodiment: The Woody House level is full of fire-based ghosts, including a fast-moving "Fire Giant" and a dragon made of fire. The Apartment level is ice and snow based with falling icicle hazards and a demonic snowman as the level boss.
  • Evil Former Friend: "Arthur" to the Weapons Shop owner.
    "Did Arthur die? Once he was my friend. After he found the stone tablet he changed, but a long time ago he was a good man. To restore his good name, I'll repay you for your costs."
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: The 100-Eyed Centipede in the High-Rise and the Broccoli Worm in the Castle.
  • Ghastly Ghost: As is to be expected, all of the enemies are ghosts, with only one (The Bouncing Buddy) being helpful and harmless. Even the green ghost, who appears and gives you HP/Mana power ups, hurts the Busters on contact.
  • Giving Up the Ghost: The minibosses do this, and you have to catch the ghost with the Proton Stream and trap. It's most evident in the Castle level, when you have to exorcise your possessed teammates: the Green Ghost comes out of their mouths.
  • Goomba Springboard: There's a helpful ghost called Bouncing Buddy, who could get you out of a tight spot by bouncing you back up to where you fell.
  • Graphics-Induced Super-Deformed: The game uses super-deformed sprites, but characters are normally proportioned in portraits and cutscenes.
  • The Grim Reaper: One of the minibosses has taken a Grim Reaper-like form, complete with scythe.
  • Haunted Castle: The fifth stage is a vine-filled castle, inexplicably located just on the outskirts of New York.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: You purchase gyoza from the item store to heal up between missions, and Peking Duck can be bought and held in your inventory to heal in the middle of a job.
  • Mana Meter: Your special weapons run on an energy bar. It can be refilled or made longer at the weapon store.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The group reassembles the tablet and inserts the "Eye of the Flame" jewel in the center before decoding the tablet, opening a Hellgate in the center of the city that leads to the World of Evil. The Mayor begs the Ghostbusters to solve the problem, and they accept, while quietly agreeing to not mention how they were the reason the hole appeared in the first place.
  • Nightmare Face: Janna. Good luck trying to go to sleep once you see it for yourself in the cutscene right before the Final Boss battle.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The 100-Eyed Centipede has considerably less than one hundred eyes.
  • One-Winged Angel: Janna's final form has her become a green-skinned monster in armor throwing blades.
  • Planimal: Scalon, the boss in "Home Sweet Home," and the Broccoli Worm, a miniboss in the Castle.
  • Post-Defeat Explosion Chain: All of the minibosses and bosses, bar the Possessors in the Castle level disintegrate in a series of "ghost vanishes" flashes.
  • Pull a Rabbit out of My Hat: You encounter the Silk Hatton, who can pull a deranged, chihuahua-looking ghost rabbit out of his hat.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Venus Flytrap ghost in the Castle level is one for Audrey II. Where, oh where, is Rick Moranis when you need him?
    • The manual implies that Janna's final form is called "Bazoozoo"(a reference to "Pazuzu"?).
    • In the Apartment level, the Ghostbusters have to face a horde of small orange creatures which don't seem to fit in with the surroundings. They may be a more demonic version of the Sno-Bees, from Sega's arcade game Pengo.
    • The 100-Eyed Centipede in the High-Rise, and the way to defeat it, most likely derives from Centipede.
    • Look at the computer in the Ghostbusters' office. Someone's playing a game of Tetris!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The tablet you assemble is a gate to the World of Evil, holding Janna, the lord of death and destruction.
  • Skewed Priorities: Most of your clients want you to defeat the ghosts attacking their homes so they can sleep/not worry about being harmed. The client for the High-Rise Building level is only concerned with her building's property value plummeting if the ghosts aren't dealt with.
  • Smart Bomb: You can carry up to eight cartoon bombs, which destroy all ghosts within the immediate vicinity. The more expensive but cooler "Explosive" weapon has the same effect, but at the cost of precious energy.
  • Snowlems: The "Apartment" level, which is a frozen tundra and filled with water, has these all over. There are small ones throughout the level, an Ice Golem named Crysta-Robo, and a snowman-themed final boss.
  • Spinning Paper: There's a variant of this: the newspaper simply fades in, but the effect is the same. The headline is always "GHOST COPS BUST ___ STREET SPOOK." Which is just based on a headline from the montage near the middle of the movie, anyway.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Janna, the final boss, is essentially a Palette Swap version of Gozer. Additionally, the "Banshee" found in the Apartment level looks like the ghost in Ray's dream.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Mr. Stay-Puft can now fire lasers and fireballs from his eyes. Also, his arms can apparently detach from his body and fight independently.
  • Was Once a Man: This game has this as an origin for the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man. He was once a fellow who gorged on Marshmallows and became Mr. Stay Puft (Or he over-ate himself to death and his ghost became Mr. Stay Puft, it isn't clear).