BillyTime! Games recently released a hack for Ghostbusters on Sega Genesis to fix a significant mistake in the original version, the complete lack of Winston Zeddemore.
If you’ve never experienced the game, Ghostbusters for Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was co-developed by Compile and Sega and then initially released in the US in 1990. It is an action platformer where you move and jump around a maze-like level filled with traps and various ghost-like enemies. As one of the Ghostbusters, you’ll blast your proton pack around until you find and capture each sub-boss that unlocks the room with the level’s main boss.
It’s loosely connected to the movie, its sequel, and The Real Ghostbusters cartoon. Outside of missing Winston, the game hints that other people do similar research; you buy equipment from another scientist, and Stay Puft even shows up in a level while just called Marshmallow Man. No one knows why Winston is not a playable character; maybe it is because Sega licensed the rights to produce the game from Activision, or perhaps it was some other not-so-innocent reason. But the fact remains that it was a shame not to see the character as part of the team, and it is fantastic that BillyTime! Games, Linkuei, and Danilo Dias worked to correct this.
You select Winston by hovering over Egon’s portrait and then pushing right again. Winston has normal stamina and speed but has a massively increased jump. This jump helps with level traversal and a few bosses but also makes some stages more challenging and some bosses more tedious. Winston is now part of the cutscenes. Though he hides in the back, seeing his avatar pop up during dialogue is nice.
But their work didn’t stop there. They also threw in Louis Tully for fun; you can see him in the cutscenes sporting what looks like ear muffs, a nod to his character in Ghostbusters 2. Louis is an added layer of difficulty; he is slow and weak. Coffee cups that float around each level initially took an insane amount of hits to destroy and are now destroyed in just a few hits like everything else. You can also change the color of their uniforms, and some cheat codes are restored from the Japanese version. But the best addition outside of adding Winston is an auto-save function; the game now saves every time you exit a level back to Ghostbusters HQ, either from leaving manually or by beating the boss, the game saves, and you can reload that game later.
They also included a secondary version called the Ectoplasmic edition. This one has a bunch of bonuses that can be activated by inputting the correct string of button presses at the title screen. You can trigger a director’s cut mode that gives extra perks to Egon and Ray while Winston gets maxed out health and stamina. Or you can give yourself infinite supplies, extra starting money, or turn on nightmare mode if you’re a masochist.
Overall, it is an excellent homebrew that corrects one of the most significant flaws of the original version and adds many bonuses. If you’ve never played the original, I highly suggest you play that one first to get an extra level of appreciation for the work done here, but if you have played it, you need to download this version now. It is a challenging game, so you might want to try easy mode first no matter which version you start with. I played it on my Twitch channel for the past two days and had a blast doing so! You can find it on romhacking.net; you’ll need to patch a ROM of the US/Europe version of Ghostbusters.