Your Spectrum
Issue 12, March 1985 - Ghostbusters
Home Contents KwikPik

"Professional paranormal investigations and eliminations ..."
That's the aim of the game. You're given a $10,000 loan to start your franchise. and the first thing you need is a decent set of wheels. The vehicle and equipment selection stages of the game are done well, although they do lack the variety of colours available on the Spectrum ... and the tele-typewriter style of printing text gets extremely tedious after a while.
H E Y ,   A N Y O N E   S E E N   A   G H O S T ?
What better way to guarantee a successful software package than to wait until the film, book and T-shirt have all 'gone down a storm', before wading in with your own product while the market's still eager. When Ghostbusters - the movie - began its successful sweep of this country, Activision launched a version of the eponymous computer game for the CBM 64. Now, after the 'Ghostbusting' thrill has died down a bit, the Spectrum version of the game has appeared - but, as Ross Holman and Dave Nicholls are unhappy to report, it just hasn't got the panache of the CBM version. Messrs Holman and Nicholls draw their paranormal conclusions ...
movie still

The VW Beetle
This vehicle's cheap, but it only carries five items and chugs along at a mere 75mph. It's not really that good a buy as it won't hold all the items you can afford to purchase and it's so slow that you'll be reaching for those abort keys quicker than you can say 'Gremlins'. Of all the monitoring equipment on offer, the Image Intensifier is the most useful, allowing you to keep a constant watch out for those Slimers.
There's no way you can stop the Keymaster and Gatemaster on their relentless journey to Zuul - just make sure that your bank account is healthy to the tune of $10,000 when they meet. Otherwise, you lose! map In the later stages of the game, you'll be wishing you'd bought a Marshmallow Detector to warn you that the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man's in town! Once you've got him in your sights, you've got to lay a trap with Ghost Bait to catch this lovable fiend.
All the floaters, as well as the Gatemaster and Keymaster, are heading towards the Temple of Zuul. It's also where you'll end up for the final confrontation. This is where you really get down to Ghostbuster business. As soon as a building starts flashing red, you can be sure there's a Slimer causing some trouble ...
The ghosts, or 'floaters', fly in from each corner of the map. Don't let their slowness fool you as they first enter the map - they speed up an, pretty soon, all Hell's let loose! As you pass by a building, it may begin to flash a lavender colour - which means that, although there might not be a ghost on the premises yet, you won't have long to wait!
  If you run out of traps, your 'busters have all been 'slimed', or your backpack's run out of energy, you'll need to head back to Ghostbuster's Headquarters (GHQ).   The familiar-looking symbol is you ... the dots that follow it trace the path to your next location. Look out for floaters on your travels, as you'll score extra cash for hoovering them up in your Ghost Vacuum.  
You're shown an area of New York on-screen, that seems to be positively teeming with ghosts ... and their fate's in your hands. Buildings on the map that flash red denote the presence of a Slimer; at this point, it's your task to steer the Ghostbuster's symbol to the scene of the psychic disturbance. The longer you take to reach your destination, the longer you spend driving the car in the next sequence of the game. If all goes quiet in the buildings, you can opt to do a bit of spring-cleaning and vacuum up a few of the ghosts floating around. However, you must stay alert for the 'Marshmallow Man' warning and quickly drop some Ghost Bait; if you manage to avert the danger, the Mayor will give you that $2,000 reward.

The Hearse/Station Wagon
Both of these vehicles are good buys, but the extra speed offered by the station wagon could he considered by some to be worth the inflated price tag.The capture equipment on offer is all too important - be sure and purchase some Ghost Bait, and a Ghost Trap is pretty essential as well. The Ghost Vacuum will allow you to suck up the spooks when you're out roaming the streets.

"Oh shit! It's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man."
Yes, guarding Zuul is the great Marshmallow Man himself, and obviously a very funny character if you live in America! However, in the game as in the film, this character's no joke ... he can stamp on you! The idea of this part of the game is to sneak two of your 'busters past his bouncing mass; if you mis-time things slightly, don't be surprised if they're squashed underfoot. But, if they make it, then it's congratulations all round and you're given a unique account number which you can use next time you want to play the game. For some reason, you never get to see the summit of Zuul - but maybe that's being saved for the sequel. As a game, Ghostbusters is about average, and I'm sure the film will generate a large market for it. I'd like to be able to say it's better than the CBM 64 version ... but it's not, and that's a great shame as it'll be a great disappointment to a lot of people.

The High Performance Sports Car
The high-performance sports car offers a 160mph top speed and allows you to carry up to seven items. This, and the Portable Laser Confinement System (an expensive alternative to individual Ghost Traps), is only for experienced 'busters with a very healthy bank balance. (I found that the Ionizer Backpacks ran out of power after five or so captures, thus making a trip back to base a necessity anyway. It might be worth investigating whether carrying plenty of Ghost Traps is a cheap and effective viable alternative to owning a PLCS.)

"I ain't 'fraid of no ghost!"
Ghostbusters Headquarters is the base for all 'busting operations and a building that'll become all too familiar as you play the game. Whenever you need new back-up 'busters, fresh backpacks or traps, a message scrolls across the bottom of the screen telling you to return to GHQ. On arrival, three new Ghostbusters - raring for action - trot out of the door and into the 'buster-mobile'. It's a shame that the Ghostbusters look so stick-like, especially when the majority of graphics are fairly good.

"Gotta run, gotta date with a ghost."
Once you've guided the Ghostbusters symbol to the building that's being haunted. you have to drive your vehicle along the streets sucking up any Roamers you may come across on the way; there's not much else to do at this stage of the game - I recommend you buy a Ghost Vacuum, if only to prevent you falling asleep at the wheel! It grieves me to say it, but the musical element that makes the game so good on the CBM 64 is well below par ... even for the Spectrum. Oh, to be tone-deaf! Don't look too closely at the graphics at this stage either!

"Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed ot light. Total protonic reversal."
That's what happens if your 'busting team manage to cross the ionizer streams while trying to trap a spook, so be careful! To avoid such accidents, remember to walk your 'busters right up to the building (or the streams won't reach very high up) and drop the trap in the middle of the screen. Now manoeuvre one of the team to the far right and one stage right, and face them both inwards - you're now in a position to bust a ghost!

"He's an ugly little spud, isn't he?"
And he's difficult to catch too! The Slimers flit about most unco-operatively and you often have to wait quite a while for the right moment to start blasting. Two techniques can be employed to trap the Slimers. First off, you can advance both 'busters and trap the foul Slimer under the canopy of the streams; watch out, though, that it doesn't escape between the Streams. The second, and recommended, method is to wait for the Slimer to be just on the inner-side of one of the 'busters, then turn on the beam and advance towards the trap.

"We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!"
If you spring the trap just as the Slimer moves over if then - Hey Presto! - one less 'Class 5, Full-Roaming Vapour', and up goes the cry (and it's bad enough to bring tears to the eyes) 'GHOSTBUSTERS!'. If, however, something didn't quite go as planned, then prepare to be 'slimed'. With a bit of practise, though, you'll soon manage to avoid this unpleasant experience and the cash will come rolling in. Then, if you've got more cash than you started with when the city's PK level reaches '9999', you'll have to start the final journey to Zuul.
Some of the screenshots in the magazine did not match the captions; they have been arranged correctly here.

Codebusting makes Dave Nicholls feel good ... especially on Activision's Ghostbusters.

By and large, there are really only a couple of reasons why people become hackers, and they tend to divide the hacking community into two distinct groups. There are the practical hackers who go in search of infinitive lives POKEs and new programming techniques. And then there are the hard core lunatic hackers who do it for fun!
I have to admit that I fall into the latter of these two groups and I'm proud of it! For me, hacking's akin to an adventure game, in which I'm pitting my wits against the programmers. To this end, I usually work my way methodically through most of the game to find out what's going on - but I get the most of my kicks out of 'reading between the instructions' and trying to work out how the program was developed. And Ghostbusters? Well, let's just say I had a lot of fun with that one!

movie still

Luckily, the first thing I noticed was that Ghostbusters uses one of the Ultimate software protection techniques; by this I don't mean that it's the best, it's simply the same one that Ultimate used for Underwurlde. There could be several reasons for this - either Activision has 'borrowed' it from Ultimate (or vice versa), or a third party may be going round selling the same idea to everyone. And if someone is getting into the 'protection racket', then software houses had better realise that if they all use the same method - no matter how good it is - the result can be counter productive. To qualify this statement, let me say that when I first hacked into Underwurlde the protection employed was new to me and it was a devil of a job to break into; Ghostbusters' protection, on the other hand, being so similar allowed me entry to the code within five minutes!
Once in, I did my usual run through the game and found that, although it's generally well-written, there are tell-tale signs that the package was thrown together in a hurry.
Some of the routines are not in the most logical positions and there are some rather surprising 'garbage' bytes floating around; for example, up near the top of memory there's some assembler source code! Meticulous hackers may also notice a 340 byte routine that reads in blocks of bytes from the Interface 1 RS232 port that's been left lying around. Quite why these lumps of code were saved off on to the master tape is anybody's guess!
Most of the rest of the code is quite boring - except, of course, for those routines containing the speech; this is an example of the simple 'recording' technique where a program samples the earphone socket and creates a 'bit stream' which, when played back out again, recreates the original sound (with a few crackles thrown in for good measure).
It takes around 3.5K of memory to reproduce the three spoken phrases in Ghostbusters!

Although it's by far the simplest way of generating speech, there's rather a heavy toll on memory; it takes around 3.5K of memory to reproduce the three spoken phrases in Ghostbusters!
Another routine I particularly like isn't at all revolutionary, but it does use some old theories very effectively. The map of New York is stored as a series of two byte pairs, the first number of which is normally a count for the second byte.
For example, if the first byte is '10' and the second '32', then the next ten screen locations are loaded with '32'; if, however, the first byte is a zero then the next byte is a count of the number of times the next block is repeated (a block is delimited by two zero bytes at the end). It may sound complex, but Activision's managed to squish the whole screen with all of its attributes into just 1370 bytes - a compression ratio that even
Level 9 would be proud of!
By the way, before we move on to the tricky bits, watch out for a bug when you go to catch a Slimer - if you drop the trap too low down on-screen, when you catch the ghost, your Ghostbusters won't be able to retrieve the trap; at this point, the game gets stuck until you relieve the boredom by returning to the main menu for a new game. I'm working on a fix at the moment which will hopefully appear in a future Hacking Away column.
And, here's your chance to play YS Bingo! Next time you're asked for your name, enter 'CODEBUSTERS' and use account number 00166605 - it's the easiest way I know of starting off with $1,000,000 (minus V.A.T., of course!).
To add POKEs to Ghostbusters, you have to create a new header to stop it from auto-RUNning. First of all, type in the fake header given, RUN it and save it on to a blank tape. Now, listen to the Ghostbusters master tape and stop it just after the initial header (the first screech you hear on the tape). Remove the master tape (without rewinding it!) and replace it with the cassette containing the false header. Type 'LOAD ""' and, as soon as the header's loaded, swop the tapes around again and start the master up again. Then, when the 'OK' message appears, stop the tape (don't re-wind it) and type the following as a direct command:

POKE 24578,251: POKE 24579,207: RANDOMIZE USR 24527

Now press the Enter key, and ignoring the message on- screen, type:

CLEAR 40000: NEW

Enter the second program given and RUN it. Start up the master tape for the last time and, once loaded, you'll find that you never lose a 'buster once slimed, a single trap will be sufficient because it never fills up, and your backpacks will never discharge unless you cross the beams. Not bad, eh?
100 CLEAR 32000
110 FOR x=35000 TO 35028
120 READ a: POKE x,a
130 NEXT x
140 PRINT "Start Tape and press any key"
145 STOP
150 IF INKEY$="" THEN GO TO 150
170 DATA 221, 33, 196, 136, 17, 17, 0, 175, 205, 194, 4, 201, 0, 66, 85, 83
180 DATA 84, 72, 69, 65, 68, 69, 82, 66, 3, 0, 128, 4, 3
This program will create the fake header required to get around the Ghostbusters' Ultimate-style loader.
100 FOR x=56490 TO 56510 110 READ a: POKE x,a
120 NEXT x
130 DATA 175, 50, 141, 159, 50, 255, 156, 50, 177, 158, 50, 189, 164, 62, 167
140 DATA 50, 0, 157, 195, 0, 131
Our second program gives you unlimited 'busters, bottomless Ghost Traps and backpacks that never discharge!
Home Contents KwikPik