Friday, May 23, 2014

Who you gonna call? HAL Laboratory's Ghostbusters 2 for GameBoy

I can't say I've ever been much of a fan of the second Ghostbusters film--which of course was given the imaginative title of Ghostbusters 2--despite the fact that I've long loved the original.

The (Japanese) game version of that 1989 comedy, though, is a completely different story. Granted, it was made by the always able folks at HAL Laboratory--you know, the ones responsible for the Adventures of Lolo series, most of Nintendo's Kirby games and a bunch of other intriguing titles--so that really shouldn't come as too much of a surprise.

HAL's involvement wasn't what originally drew me to this pixelated take on the Ghostbusters 2 story, though. That honor goes to the adorable sprites the company's designers and programmers created for the Famicom (known as New Ghostbusters 2, oddly enough) and GameBoy titles they released in the early 1990s.

A couple of the sprites in question can be seen in the photo that follows the one below--although, honestly, these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this game's spritework. (I'm especially fond of the enemy that looks like a Dragon Quest slime, of course.)

Don't worry, the gameplay in Ghostbusters 2 is nice, too. I'm not sure what I would compare it to, though. The only game that's coming to mind at the moment is Gauntlet and, believe me, that's pretty darn far off the mark. 

That said, the two games--HAL's Ghostbusters 2 (not to be confused with Activision's Ghostbusters 2--and Gauntlet--do share a few similarities. Both are viewed from a top-down, overhead perspective. Also, both task players with removing a slew of enemies from a particular stage before they can advance to the next one. 

In Gauntlet, though, players aren't required to kill a certain, specific number of baddies before the door they can be whisked off to the next level, whereas that is the case in Ghostbusters 2. Also, there are far fewer baddies to be found in each Ghostbusters 2 level than there are in a corresponding Gauntlet level.

And then, of course, there's the way in which players dispose of said enemies. In Gauntlet, you control a single character and shoot them using various weapons and implements, while in Ghostbusters 2, you control a pair of characters--one of whom zaps them with a proton pack and one of whom catches them with a trap.

The latter action is a bit awkward, I have to admit, but it's not so awkward as to be off-putting--or at least it hasn't proven to be in my case. 

One thing that has been proven to be a bit off-putting is learning that the GameBoy version of Ghostbusters 2 contains just three stages compared to the Famicom version's six. (Not that I've seen all of the ones that are featured in either version, mind you.)

Even with that shortcoming, though, I think both of HAL's Ghostbusters 2 releases are worth checking out if you're into cute 8-bit titles with somewhat-unique gameplay.

Neither of them is going to amaze you like some of the other gems that were created for Nintendo's first console and handheld, respectively, but they're interesting and fun enough that you hopefully won't regret spending time with them should you decide to do so. (Especially if you spend time with them via an emulator and a ROM.)

See also: previous 'Year of the GameBoy' posts


Bodo said...

Flashback to the 80s :-) I'm still loving the Ghostbusters logo. Great cover as well. said...

Yep, it's Flashback Friday on The Gay Gamer--or something like that ;)

I was surprised to find out the film sequel came out in 1989, by the way. I thought it was out in the early 1990s! Oh, well.

It's strange how few good games came from the Ghostbusters franchise, IMO. Kind of like the Alien/Aliens situation, actually...

TheGameroomBlitz said...

Kind of amazing how they were able to capture the widow's peak of Bill Murray, the Cro-Magnon forehead of Dan Ackroyd, and the extreme nerdiness of Harold Ramis in those tiny little sprites.

I'd like to say that one of the Ghostbusters was missing, but of course Ernie Hudson didn't have much of a presence in the first film. Now the cartoon, on the other hand, was a different story... said...

Actually, Jess, Ernie *is* in this game! I think he must me shown/mentioned on the next page? I'll be scanning the manual this weekend, so I guess we'll find out for sure shortly :)

Justin Difazzio said...

Wow. I'm a sucker for good spritework. Also for Ghostbusters. Win! said...

Yeah, you'd probably like this game, Justin--although you might like the Famicom version a bit more! Check both of them out via emulation, I say :)