Review by Tom Clark

Reviewed: 12/02/01 | Updated: 12/02/01

Because the old one sucked, basically...

The ghostbusters ruled. The films were cool, the cartoon show (the original version that is, not that new 'Extreme' version) was my favourite show when I was younger, even the song was kinda catchy. When it came to videogames, however, the Ghostbusters didn't fare so well. The Spectrum game based on the first film was fun, but then things went wrong. Ghostbusters 2 on the NES was, if rumour is to be believed, absolutely terrible. Thankfully, we PAL gamers got the better end of the deal for once (!) - instead of the side scrolling Ghostbusters 2, we got the overhead view and innovative gameplay that came with New Ghostbusters 2. Hoorah! Yes my friends, this is what happens when movie tie-ins go right....

This game is actually pretty original, even today. Viewed from a Zelda perspective, it involves you guiding two 'busters around various locations from the film, and... well... busting ghosts. What makes it cool though, is that one button fires the zapper, held by the first member of your crew, while the other button throws the trap, held by the second member of your crew. To make progress slightly easier the trapper is impervious to harm, and just tags along behind the first ghostbuster, and basically that is about as complex as the game gets. That isn't a bad thing, though: it's quite often the simple ideas that are the most effective - look at Donkey Kong or Tetris, and while NGB2 is far from being in the same league as those classics, it is still good fun to play.

The plot follows that of the movie quite closely. Basically, an evil painting has gone up in the art gallery where Peter's girlfriend works, and it's trying to take over the world using her newborn son. Like a group of maniacally unforgiving art critics, the team reunite to destroy the painting, and save the world. In the game this plot is spread across six stages featuring locations from the film (although the final stage is almost entirely based around the battle with Vigo, the dude in the painting). While the stages are pretty varied, and pleasantly large, only the most patient of gamers will make it as far as level four. This is not because of the game's difficulty (in fact the game is far too easy), it's because level three is one of the most tedious pieces of gaming I've encountered. It's set in Dana's apartment block, and your intrepid heroes start on the ground floor,trap the ghosts there, face a mini-boss, and go up to the next floor, where they do the same. There are loads of floors (this is probably the largest level in the game), and while this should be welcome, criminally it gets no harder as the level progresses, and after the second or third floor there aren't even any new kinds of ghosts to bust. To cap it all off, you arrive on the roof only to see a cutscene and go to level four - there isn't even a boss! Like I said, you have to be really patient, or really have nothing better to do to have the stamina to get beyond this stage, which is a pity, as the rest of the game is very well designed.

Aside from level three, the boss battles in the game are a real joy. They are probably about as varied as they can be considering it's just a case of ''zap 'n' trap'', and the bosses themselves are pretty varied too: ghostly convicts, a ghost-train that still has passengers, and, most terrifying of all, the short bloke from Ally McBeal! Although they are far too easy(Ally Guy aside - no really!) they are quite good fun, and that's the main thing really.

The presentation of NGB2 is of a very high quality. The levels all look different to their fore-runner (with the exception of the last two stages, but they are set in the same place, so that's forgivable), and there are nice little touches included in the game - Louis' hair stands on end after a few ghost encounters, for example. Things are bright and colourful, which makes the game seem to be more of a companion to the cartoon than to the film, and gives the game a good tongue-in-cheek atmosphere, and the animation is among the smoothest I've seen in a NES game - while this game isn't visually impressive enough to pass as an early 16-bit offering, it does show the power of the NES quite close to it's maximum potential. The music, too, is outstanding. While it doesn't match the quality of Mega Man 2 (the pinnacle of NES music against which all others are judged), it is good enough to get me humming along, and it is fairly distinctive.

The only thing that stops NGB2 from being one of the greats of the NES era (level three aside) is it's lack of difficulty. If you have the endurance, and are old enough to remember when the movie came out, you'll finish it the first time you pick it up: the only thing that could possibly cause you problems is the fifth level boss. So this game isn't a classic, but it is still great fun, and well worth a look if you can find it.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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