Your Sinclair1st January 1990
Published in Your Sinclair #49
I've said it before and no doubt I'll say it again - multiloads, they're bloomin' murder!! I hate 'em! Half the time you only get them because the programmers want to show off with a flashy intro sequence or something! But even worse (much worse!) than your average 'load up each level as you come to it' multiload is your 'each time you use up your three lives you have to rewind the tape and load the level in again before you can take another shot at it' multiload! And they really ARE murder!
And guess what sort Activision has saddled poor old Ghostbusters II with? That's right, the really, really crap sort! Aargh! I'm sorry, but that more or less ruins the game for me from the start. I mean, there's no way I'm going to spend half my playing time loading the flippin' thing in again and again. It's ludicrous! However, in the interests of good reviewing practices, I'm going to take a deep breath (ahhhh), sit down and persevere. (Just remember, as you read this review, what excrutiating torture I'm going through to bring you it.)
Right then, the first level. As you load the thing in you get a series of digitised stills from the movie explaining the plot, the setting, the characters, and why you're dangling down a manhole on a rope at the start of Level One. Actually. I can't complain about these bits at all. They set the scene, put you 'in the mood' and look quite tasty to boot. There you are then, hanging from a rope down a monochrome red subway access shaft, swinging from side to side, twizzling around through all angles, and generally looking a right ol' lemon. Then along come the ghosts - little flying slimy ones, great big hand jobs (oo-er) that slice through your line, and so on. You've got to swing from side to side, dodging all the ghosts you can, blasting the ones you can't and collecting various doobries from the sides of the shaft. These include different anti-ghost weapons, courage boosters (the more the ghosts touch you, the more frightened you get until you're literally scared to death) and, most importantly, the three parts of a slime scoop, which you're going to use to collect a sample of ectoplasm from the pool at the bottom.
What's good about this level (and, in fact, the game in general) is its graphics. The sprites are big, nicely animated, and capture the look and feel of the film very well. What's not so good is the gameplay. This is a bit hard, a bit samey, and the shaft is quite short so there isn't all that much of it. Couple this with the constant multiloading and you've got something that's not actually bad, just very difficult to get excited about.
Level Two is slightly more complicated, and makes no sense whatsoever outside the context of the film (and probably very little in it either!). It's a horizontal scroller of sorts, with the Ghostbusters lodged inside the Statue Of Liberty, which they've animated using ghostly slime. You shoot oncoming ghosts with fireballs from the statue's torch, get little blokes running around your feet to collect slime to power the statue and, um, that's it. This level is at least as pretty as the one before but the gameplay just plods on and on repetitively rather than going anywhere. Ho hum.
Then there's the last bit. I can't really be bothered to explain how it all works - it follows the action of the film very closely and, as such is rather bitty, a bit stilted, and may make a suitably dramatic film climax but as far as the game is concerned just tails off to a rather flat conclusion.
I've always wondered why the first Ghostbusters game was so incredibly popular. It always looked crude and a bit crap to me. Now Ghostbusters II has shown me why. It was obviously partly to do with the success of the original movie, but also because it took the novel idea behind the Ghostbusters and made it work in game terms. Ghostbusters II is different. It's far better programmed, far more faithful to the look of the film... and far less playable. It plays as a series of short rather uninvolving sequences, each totally divorced from the other (so there's no real feeling of progression) and each further hampered by the ridiculous multiload.
It's not really a bad game, but it's about as user friendly as a frisky stoat (ie not very) which would be merely annoying if the end results were worth all the trouble. But as you might have guessed by now, I can't really say that they are.
Stilted, repetitive gameplay and the world's most ridiculous multiload conspire to scupper an exceptionally faithful and pretty film conversion.