Activision licensed the rights to develop a game based on the massively successful Ghostbusters film. David Crane was given the Ghostbusters project and as the lead programmer he went about designing the game. Unfortunately a lot of movie related games tended to be hugely disappointing with a very bad track record. I suppose its fair to say that most critics did not expect anything special. But everyone was in for a shock as David worked away producing probably the best film licensed game ever released on an 8-bit computer. Activision and David also made the clever decision at the time to use the speech software technology of Electronic Speech Systems Inc, the same company that did the unique speech for the game Impossible Mission (see Speech Box for more information). This was a wonderful idea which added a realism touch to the game that otherwise would have been missing and the one feature that Ghostbuster gamers would always remember.

The film had a chart topping song by Ray Parker Junior and the game also featured a terrific rendition of this song. Although some people at the time thought the music was done by David, apparently it was actually done by Adam Bellin who also worked for Activision.

The introduction to the game was great, first you had the Ghostbuster’s logo appearing then the immortal words Ghostbusters, followed by the unforgettable evil laugh! Then the music kicked in – with a unique and clever touch – a small bouncing ball – moving to the actual words of the song as the music progressed! I remember actually seeing the game for the first time at a friends house - and we commented on what a neat idea it was to have the song lyrics scrolling on screen to the music!
Ghostbusters Activision
Ghostbusters by Activision

Ghostbusters Activision
Ghostbusters Advert

As the game was based on the film – all the familiar features you would expect were present – first you entered your name to start up a new Ghostbusters franchise and then you purchased a car to travel around the city. You could then kit out the car with various Ghostbusting items like the ghost bait and vacumn! Then it was off Ghostbusting – a small map of New York city appeared on screen, and just like the film the city experienced increased PK energy created from the numerous Ghost hot spots occurring all over the city. An area on screen would glow red - then you would drive your car to that destination. Although the car part of the game was the weakest as you were not really driving – although if you happened to come across a yellow ghost zipping around the screen – you could use your vacumn to suck up the ghost! Once you arrived at your destination you would position your men, lay the trap bait and launch your streams – but don’t cross them! If you were unsuccessful in trapping a ghost then the ghost would slime you and the speech “he slimed me” would cry out from your character!

Although the game was criticised for being a bit limited even repetitive and I suppose you could argue this. The fact is David Crane created a very faithful adaptation of the original film and one of the better computer games of the time.

Due to the success of David’s game and the callaboration between Activision and the film company Paramount. If you happened to be one of the many gamers who wrote to Activision about how good you thought the game was – you would be sent memorabilia of the film, this could be a book, ti-shirt or something else. You would at the very least of received a thank you letter from Activision. Very few companies actually did anything like this – certainly not on this scale – its something that other companies especially British ones even today could learn from. The consumer is king never forget it!