Saturday, June 8, 2013

VGR New Ghostbusters II

If there's something bad in your videogame. Who You Gonna Call?

Another game!

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VGR: New Ghostbusters II     
From HAL Laboratory
Played on NES
Also available on Game Boy

Type Top-down action game
Year 1990

After a pretty disastrous Ghostbusters 2 videogame you have to thank Kemco and Activision, HAL Laboratory the creators of Kirby gave us another take on the same movie. A New Ghostbusters II if you will.

Entirely created and published by the small Japanese developer, the game offered a fresh new take on Ivan Reitman's film.

Forgotten was the experiment from the past game. Instead this was to be a top-down action game, a genre very much familiar with movie-inspired franchises on the NES. Simple as that.

This time they would get it right... right?

The game roughly follows the plot from the film to the letter. More or less.

In this game you get to pick your own pair of Ghostbusters from any of the guys, that means Peter, Ray, Egon, Winston and for the very first time - Louis Tully (Rick Moranis)!

Vigo the Carpathian is planning is resurrection. He has conjured lots of psychomagnotheric slime beneath the city of New York to cause a disturbance amongst the supernatural entities lying dormant usually. Now the city is overrun by ghosts!

The guys will have to explore 6 stages taken from the film, starting from the courthouse, an abandoned subway tunnel, Dana's apartment building , the underground rivers of slime, to the art museum and finally Vigo's altar.

At the end of each stage, you will fight a different and unique boss fight. To mix things a lot, not all of these fights plays the same.

First of all, it's great to have Winston playable, once in a while. (albeit blue-skinned, due to the limited color palette)

Sadly you don't get to pick your characters each stage, but only at the beginning of the game. (I tend to change the team a lot each playthrough)

The game is played from a top-view perspective.

You pick one main busters. This one is the character you play. He will be able to use his proton pack to catch ghosts momentarily. And it can also be used to "damage" the more resilient bosses until they change color...

...then you will have to trap the ghosts for good. The second Ghostbusters is the sidekick partner. He simply follows you around. He is in charge of the ghost traps. Via the second button. You don't control him, the AI takes care of the rest. As soon as you capture a ghosts, the computer will have him moved around and he will place automatically nearby the ghosts then you simply press the trap button.

And another ghost bites the dust!

It's that simple!

When you clear the area, an arrow will show you the nearby possessed zone, move onto the next room and repeat!

In this way, the game is sort of similar to more arcade games such as Bomberman.

The idea is to clear all zones, explore the areas and reach the boss on each level.

Thankfully, the game tries its best to distract you from its very linear gameplay.

Every level's different in its own way. And the bosses get more and more difficult. This game requires some precision and concentration.

It starts with a pretty simple courthouse. It's a small place but it will have you go back and forth the rooms until you face the Scoleri brothers. The second stage ends on the ghost train the guys only briefly met in the film and a boss that will leave open a very small window to be captured. The building is the longest part, you will go through the same rooms for 5 floors and facing more and more slime creatures (where baby Oscar is kidnapped at the end). Then some difficult slime-infested undergrounds, with the slime slowing your path down.

Thankfully, after the previous game's awful attempt at recreating the Statue of Liberty scene, New Ghostbusters II simply ditches that part altogether.

Finally the Ghostbusters reach the art museum, a fairly straightforward last stage with hordes of ghosts and a huge possessed Janosz as the really difficult penulimate boss. This is without a doubt the trickier scene of the whole game. After that it's just a fight with Vigo that while not completely easy shouldn't be much of a problem.

Such as Super Back To The Future II, New Ghostbusters II is a very good Japanese take on a Western big budget movie.

The game also uses a slight "anime-esque" SD* art-style. All the characters are rendered in with huge heads and very small cartoon bodies (think Zelda 1).

It looks great. You can really recognize the scenery from the film through the limited 8 bits graphic.

And on the musical front, it's just as good.

The music is really great this time. HAL Laboratory's very own Jun Ishikawa composed the music for this title. This time, the game isn't saturated by the Ghostbusters theme song, the soundtrack actually recreates several music pieces from the film, reimagined for the NES. A rap number - "We're Back" by Bobby Brown -digitalized in glorious 8-bit for the sewers level. Some cues sound very similar to Kirby's music.

The game is not really that long, but thanks to the more difficult bits it feels just right. 

The only downside? No 2-players mode, despite looking like the perfect kind of game for it. 

Overall, easily the best Ghostbusters game ever made!

I only discovered it many years after loving and playing the Megadrive Ghostbusters game the most. But even as such, I gotta recognize it has the very best arcade-style gameplay that is a perfect fit for the series. 

Really fun and the best videogame translation of the Ghostbusters-concept into a gameplay.

Despite all its good, and surprising enough, New Ghostbusters II was actually never released in the US. Due to licensing issues with Activision, who was the owner of the IP in the states at the time.

The game was also made available on the Game Boy in 1992. Though it's not entirely a port but more of a recreation. Louis is not playable on the GB, the level design uses completely redone layouts, in fact the game is only three stages long and the music is also radically different.
I give it:
3 / 3 Invaders!

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