Ghostbusters 2 – Game Boy
Platform: Nintendo Game Boy
Developer: Hal Laboratory
Release Date (NA): December, 1990
Nerd Rating: 6/10
Reviewed by FrozenMallet
“There are some things in this world that go way beyond human understanding. Things that cannot be explained. Things that some don’t even want to know about! That is where we come in. Kitten, I think that what I’m saying is that: sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who ya gonna call?” -Peter Venkman, Ghostbusters 2
When I received Ghostbusters 2 on Game Boy for my birthday in January of 1991, I was beyond excited. Why wouldn’t I be? The Ghostbusters franchise was everywhere in the late eighties. I loved the movies and I watched the animated show, The Real Ghostbusters. I even had a bunch of the action figures based on the cartoon.
Up to this point in my life the only Ghostbusters game I had played was the one for Atari 2600 which was a watered down port of the first NES game. For Atari 2600 standards it was a reasonably decent game. These factors produced the perfect storm of enthusiasm in my young heart. So I got myself another Hi-C Ecto Cooler juice box and prepped myself to strap an unlicensed nuclear accelerator to my back.
Ghostbusters 2 starts out promising enough. As soon as you turn on the game you get a solid rendition of the iconic Ghostbusters theme and it sounds good… Well, as good as it can possibly sound on the Game Boy hardware. The graphics are well done for the time as well. All four Ghostbusters are represented and they are drawn in a chibi art style. They all use what the developers thought was their most distinctive visual trait to differentiate them from each other. Peter has a receding hair line, Ray wears his Ecto goggles, Egon wears glasses, and Winston… Well, Winston is black.
The first thing you do is select the two Ghostbusters you want to use. The first Ghostbuster will be completely under the player’s control and fire the proton beam to stun the ghosts while the second is controlled by the CPU and will follow behind with the trap to suck up the stunned ghost. For the most part this works pretty well, although occasionally the CPU controlled character will get trapped behind obstacles or not quite make it through doorways. When this happens it forces the player to backtrack to allow the CPU character to catch up. It’s not quite game-breaking as it is a common issue in games with this kind of control scheme, but it can be a distraction and does break the flow occasionally.
Even with this minor flaw the game flows very well. In addition to the joy of walking around busting ghosts, Ghostbusters 2 boasts environments taken from the actual film. There are stages that take place in the courthouse, subway, and museum. The only environment from the film noticeably missing from the game is a Statue of Liberty stage. I know this seems like a no-brainer, but back in the 8-bit days this obvious idea was not always a given. Batman on the NES is a prime example of this. It’s a great game, but absolutely nothing in the game aside from the cut scenes have anything to do with the 1989 Batman film.
One of shortcomings of Ghostbusters 2 is the enemy variety. There isn’t any. Most of the game is spent catching slimers, ghost joggers, and blobs of slime. Presumably these blobs are the ghosts of the Slime from the Dragon Warrior games. I could be wrong about that last part, but that’s what I hear.
Ghostbusters 2 uses a simplified plot from the film. Dana’s baby, Oscar, has been kidnapped by Vigo, and it is up to the Ghostbusters to rescue him. Vigo’s plan is to use the boy named after a hot dog as his vessel to reenter the world of the living despite the fact that Oscar is ugly. Well, he’s not Elephant Man ugly but he’s not attractive. Maybe his father was ugly.
Really there isn’t much more to it than that. That statement is not a complaint; in fact this is where the game excels. The developers knew what fans of the Ghostbusters franchise wanted. All we needed was a chance to control characters that resembled the guys from the movies we loved and have these same guys run around ending the afterlife of various free roaming vapors. Ghostbusters 2 on Game Boy might not be a masterpiece but it doesn’t try to be. This is a simple action game that focuses on fun. That is what makes this still playable today.
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