If there is one saving grace to The Real Ghostbusters, it's the inclusion of the proton packs as a weapon. The 'Busters have access to a more traditional gun which shoots small energy bullets, too, and in fact this is the weapon you'll use most of the time. When a larger baddie arrives, you can use the proton pack to suck down it's health. Though the proton beam is far more fun to use, it only has a limited amount of ammo. This means that you are usually saving the proton pack for tough situations, like a big swarm of opponents, or the bosses at the end of each level. It’s shame, since its far more Ghostbusters-like to zap bad guys with lightning than with little glowing shots.
One strong thematic link to the movies happens after every level. The Ghostbusters unload their proton packs into a ghost storage vault, and score points for each ghost captured. This of course closely mirrors the actual vault from the film. Slimer makes an appearance, which adds some more Ghostbusters flavor, though he oddly appears as a power up that acts as a sort of shield.
As I said before, the game doesn’t really feel much like a Ghostbusters game. I strongly suspect that it began life as something else, and then was altered quickly to work with the Ghostbusters license. In fact, the Japanese version of the game, Meikyuu Hunter G, doesn’t feature Ghostbusters at all, and replaces the proton packs with different weapons. Apart from a few screens between levels, the player graphics, and the introduction animation, there really wasn’t too much Ghostbusters stuff to replace.
All in all, I found The Real Ghostbusters to be fairly disappointing. There’s a sense when playing that it could have been a lot better than it was. It is only moderately successful from a gameplay standpoint when compared to contemporary video games, though the three-player co-op was a bit ahead of its time. As an interpretation of the Ghostbusters franchise, though, it’s not nearly as good. It would be more than twenty years before a great Ghostbusters game came along, and that, classic gaming fans, is a disaster of Biblical proportions.