Any old port in a storm

The Real Ghostbusters logo

PRODUCERS never seem to be happy with resting on their laurels. They always feel the urge to produce a series of follow-ups, the sum of which is usually considerably less than the merit of the first. So when we got Ghostbusters and all the related paraphernalia, it would only be time until the spin-off series followed.

Instead of using people, the spin-off was a cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters; it's pretty amusing too, if you're not into overly cerebral stuff. So now Activision has got the conversion of the arcade game of the cartoon of the film.

The original arcade machine, by Data East - a company not renowned for its originality - is a mildly enjoyable affair which plays like a demented Alien Syndrome. In it, the city is about to be taken over by ghosts, so The Real Ghostbusters have to save the city by shooting them and then beaming them inot the containment backpack. The wholw thing is filmed in a semi-overhead view, with the first level taking place on top of skyscrapers.

Ghosts come in many shapes, colours and flavours. Werewolves and mummies are fairly innocuous, only being nasty when touched. Other spooks are a bit more unpleasant, with the large purple mutant wombles, who shoot projectiles in all directions, being the worst.

At the end of each level there is a big guardian which must be defeated to get the key to the next level. Yawn.
Oh, and before the lack of interest overtakes me, some ghosts leave bonuses which can help or hinder you. Zzzz.

OK, that's the plot over. Now for the whinges. The arcade machine sported very smooth, clear graphics and killer sound, which is the minimum requirement for a coin-op to keep its head above the water in today's arcade. Well, someone at Activision must have thought, "It's only a conversion, and since we've written an ST version let's use that".

So instead of neatly defined graphics we have grey fuzz. It's hard to tell whether the little Ghostbuster is on top of or underneath the buildings because the perspective is so bad.

All the fonts are bog standard ST ones and the screen is 56 lines too short. OK, so maybe the retort is that not all machines can do the 256 line PAL screen - but there have been documented methods for telling whether a machine is PAL or not for at least two years, so that doesn't wash.

Scrolling is fairly slow and none too smooth, and the sprites are badly defined and flicker. When your person cops it - maybe twice in the first three seconds, if you're good - all it does is put its hands on its head. No noise, nothing. I used to wonder why I got "Game Over" so often until I realised it was meant to be a death sequence.

The tune is not bad - a kind of Bustin' the House, Frantic Remix - nor is the two player gameplay if you're used to a CPC. Discerning Amigans, which of course you are, should avoid. Don't touch this even with something bargepolesque.

The Real Ghostbusters logo

Activision, Amiga £24.99

New York city is under siege from paranormal pests and once more it's the decidedly low-rent Real Ghostbusters who come to rescue in their converted ambulance. First stop is the rooftops of the famous Manhattan skyline, after that it's nine more levels of ghoulish mayhem in increasing bizarre environments. Either one or two players can take on the hideous ghosts, and scrolling is multi-directional. You can choose one of several, ghost infested routes to the end-of-level guardian which must be defeated to complete the level.

Your armament is a gun and proton beam. Both can be used to destroy ghosts but only the proton beam can collect the harmless white ghosts which appear when their physical forms are destroyed. If you have 50 ghosts at the end of the level you get an extra life. You can also collect various special objects to give a shield, super bullets and Slimer - the friendly green ghost which will circle around you killing enemy ghosts.

Robin Hogg The Data East coin-op has proved an elusive beast on the UK shores. I wouldn't be surprised if it's hiding in an attempt to disown itself from what must be the worst Amiga coin-op conversion yet (and this from the makers of Elite). The graphics are disappointing and very poorly animated. Sound is adequate, but the collision detection is appalling - tempting you to throw your Amiga out the nearest window. Don't! It's just this game. Avoid it and know true happiness.
Stuart Wynne The basic gameplay is potentially good, but spoilt by terrible execution. The graphics are embarrassingly bad, the sound mediocre, and the collision detection decidedly dodgy. In two-player mode the size of the characters, and the fact that they can only move in about half of the screen, makes for even more irritation. I'd hoped for an arcade perfect conversion on the Amiga, sadly this most definitely isn't it.