The original 1984 Ghostbusters movie is one of the all-time great action comedies of all time, spawning merchandise, music, toys, sequels, cartoon series and – of course – video games.
Since David Crane's 1985 classic on the C64, we've seen Ghostbusters video games on pretty much every popular platform, including the NES, Sega Genesis / Mega Drive, Commodore Amiga, Wii and, most recently, PSVR2 and Meta Quest.
There's clearly something instantly appealing about the concept of tracking down spooks and ghouls for profit, and the result has been a steady stream of interactive adaptations on the topic – some much better than others, it has to be said.
But which one of these games is best? We've ranked the major Ghostbusters titles in order of merit below, but don't forget that you can impact the running order by giving each game your own personal rating.
There was definitely a feeling back in the NES days that some publishers and developers were content to simply snap up a lucrative license and pump out a terrible, low-budget video game in order to maximise their profits, and that seems to have been the case with this initial NES version of Ghostbusters II.
Saddled with awful visuals, poor sound and a punishingly unfair difficulty level, this is one of the worst games to feature our paranormal heroes. Avoid. (This is not to be confused with New Ghostbusters II, which was developed by HAL and is far superior).
Based on the Extreme Ghostbusters cartoon, this massively derivative Puzzle Bobble clone was sold at a low price point and is only available on PC.
While the core gameplay can mildly entertaining, it's ultimately a lazy, unimpressive puzzle title that honestly has very little to do with the source material. Lazy.
Roger Ebert once famously opined that video games are not art, and Ghostbusters is Exhibit A for his case. This is not art. It barely qualifies as a game. Sure, it's not broken like some games are. It's functional. It works. But there's no risk, no ambition, and not a trace of anything resembling the personality of the Ghostbusters movies or cartoons.
This is a game that seems like it was made with the specific purpose of tricking parents who don't know any better into buying it for their kids.
Who ya gonna call? The Samaritans, probably.
A light-gun game based on Ghostbusters? Surely that's akin to a license to print money, right? You'd certainly assume so, but based on the evidence of this abysmal PS1 outing, perhaps it's harder than you think.
Showcasing some of the laziest visuals you'll see in any first-gen PlayStation title (the backgrounds are 3D, but the ghosts are flat 2D sprites), Extreme Ghostbusters: Ultimate Invasion is yet another waste of the legendary IP. The inclusion of clips from the cartoon might be enough to entice fans, but this is otherwise one to avoid.
Released in 1997, Extreme Ghostbusters was an attempt to resurrect the brand via an animated TV series, and while we'd never claim it was up to the standard of The Real Ghostbusters, it certainly has its fans.
It was also the obvious choice for a video game tie-in, and that came in the form of this 2D action platformer for the Game Boy Color. While the visuals are somewhat pretty given the humble nature of the hardware, the gameplay is rather insipid.
Don't lose any sleep over tracking this one down – its value has risen on the secondary market due to its late release in the GBC's lifetime. Save your money.
Given the blockbuster status of the second Ghostbusters movie, it's not all that shocking that we got so many video games based on it. While NES owners had to endure Activision's terrible title (a situation that would eventually be fixed with HAL's New Ghostbusters II), home computer users had a series of thematically similar titles created by Dynamix (DOS), Foursfield (Amiga, Commodore 64, Atari ST, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum) and New Frontier (MSX).
Like the botched NES game, Ghostbusters II recreates scenes from the movie, even going as far as to include stills and sampled music from the film. Sadly, this particular title hasn't stood the test of time all that well and is only going to be of interest to those who have a nostalgic connection to it.
The Amiga version – which we've featured here – is cursed by an insane amount of disc-swapping.
While Extreme Ghostbusters: Code Ecto-1 is certainly a step up from the Game Boy Color Extreme Ghostbusters game and boasts some nice visuals with transparency effects and parallax scrolling, it still ultimately boils down to being a relatively straightforward action platformer.
Team members Roland and Garett aren't playable due to the fact they've been kidnapped, so you have to make do with Eduardo and Kylie.
A Ghostbusters game in name only, this entry in Kemco's convoluted Crazy Castle series starred Mickey Mouse in Japan and Garfield in Europe, but US players got to control Peter Venkman as he negotiated its puzzle-platforming with yet another 8-bit rendition Ghostbusters theme blasting out of the handheld's tinny speaker.
The biggest problem with Sanctum Of Slime is that it all feels unnecessarily drawn out. It runs out of ideas after the second or third level, and if Behaviour Interactive had put some more effort into refining the mechanics and making the gameplay feel more satisfying, it could have gotten away with stuffing the package with more and more of the same content.
Co-op games maintain their longevity from replayability, and with Sanctum Of Slime constantly recycling assets and entire stages, this is a digital release you won't want to touch after experiencing it once.
Hardcore Ghostbusters fans may find merit in the comic-book cut-scenes and general premise, but don't expect the package to keep you hooked beyond its opening sixty minutes.
Developed by Japanese company Data East at the point when the Real Ghostbusters cartoon show was at its height, this coin-op title is a top-down shooter which, in Japan, was released without the Ghostbusters licence as Meikyūu Hunter G.
There are considerable differences between the 'World' and Japanese versions of the game – the latter is incredibly frustrating. While the addition of the busters will have led many people to play this back in the day (and pick up the home computer ports on Amiga, ST, Amstrad CPC, C64 and ZX Spectrum), it's a pretty average experience overall.
A loose, cartoon-y adaptation of the game that appeared on home console platforms, Ghostbusters: The Video Game on DS has more of an action RPG flavour and is the only version where you actually play as one of the four original Ghostbusters and not the rookie recruit.
Played from a top-down perspective, you command the other three 'busters you're not directly controlling and wander around NYC upgrading the team and generally doing what makes 'busters feel good.
Driving sections have you negotiating the foggy streets of Manhattan and offer some variety, but the DS game starts to grate after a while. It's passable paranormal fare, but certainly not a patch on its home console brethren.
Available on Meta Quest and PlayStation VR2, Ghostbusters: Rise of the Ghost Lord is a Virtual Reality game set within the Ghostbusters world – a setup which got many fans excited when it was first announced.
Sadly, it comprehensively fails to live up to that potential, with weak visuals and an overall lack of cohesion, resulting in an experience which runs out of steam far too quickly. Chalk this one up as another Ghostbusters-related disappointment.
For this home computer classic, renowned developer David Crane took elements of a prototype game (Car Wars) and produced a unique twist; you are running your own Ghostbusters franchise, rather than directly portraying the film’s characters.
With the bank loaning money, you buy equipment and a vehicle then respond to ghost alerts as the city’s PK energy rises. Reaching a building, you set down a ghost trap and then use the proton beams to guide the roaming ghost over it. There is also the Marshmallow Man to capture and then dodge past to reach the Temple of Zuul and a brief but brilliant end sequence.
Originally released on the C64, Crane's title would be ported to several other platforms, including the Master System and NES (the latter of which is pretty terrible).
While Activision would do a great amount of damage to the Ghostbusters name with the NES title Ghostbusters II, it would also publish HAL's excellent Game Boy title, based on the same movie.
Featuring top-down visuals and cute characters, it's not exactly faithful to the source material, but is much more enjoyable.
HAL would also produce a NES version, which was released in Japan and Europe as New Ghostbusters II.
With Ghostbusters: Afterlife reviving the franchise, it didn't take long for a related game to appear. Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed is set directly after the events of the 2021 movie, with Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore reestablishing the spook-slaying company and enlisting you as a new recruit.
Spirits Unleased's hook is online, asymmetrical multiplayer, with one player assuming the role of the ghost while the others try to hunt them down and trap them. Despite the obvious promise behind the concept, Spirts Unleashed never quite attains true greatness – but it's still worth a look if you're a fan of the movies.
The Switch port, Ghostbusters: Spirits Unleashed – Ecto Edition, ties the events of the game into the 2024 movie Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire.
It must have been a confusing time for parents back in the early '90s, with there being not one but two Ghostbusters II titles on the NES. Activision's original attempt was terrible, but this version – only released in Japan and Europe – is much better, thanks to the fact that HAL (famous for the Kirby series) was on development duties.
While it looks very much like the Game Boy Ghostbusters II, the two games are, in fact, very different. The level designs are totally unique, as is the soundtrack. Both are worth a look, however.
Co-developed by Japanese studio Compile – famous for its shmups – the Mega Drive / Genesis version of Ghostbusters stands out from the other games by offering the player a side-scrolling world to explore, as well as cute, 'super-deformed' versions of the busters themselves.
While, at times, it feels like the property has been grafted onto a totally separate game, this is still a whole lot of fun and boasts some excellent visuals. More recently, a fan-made patch has been released which improves the game massively and adds Winston Zeddemore as a playable character; for some unknown reason, he was not included in the original version.
Released alongside Terminal Reality's PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, the Wii, PS2 and PSP iterations were all roughly the same, with Wii owners getting the added bonus of motion controls. Putting aside a few jumps in difficulty and a rather disappointing multiplayer mode, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is without a doubt the best attempt at capturing the thrill of the movies in digital form to date and a real service to fans who grew up watching the films and cartoons.
Developer Red Fly has put a lot of work and effort into making this a great experience and in making the Wii version a lot more than just a simple port with waggle. If you’re a fan of the Ghostbusters, you will certainly love this game - just be careful to not cross the streams.
From almost every angle you look at it, Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a perfect extension to the franchise. With a plot contributed by original writers Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis, as well as a majority of the original cast on-board for vocal talent - the story will raise many a smile from fans. It's not just the delivery that's been nailed though; the look is also perfect. From the facial animations to the behaviour of the proton packs - the game is a real labour of love, and it shows.