Sega Master System / Mark III / Game Gear
Every thirteen years, a place known as Ghost City appears. This ghastly town is inhabited by all manner of evil and grotesque creatures who take great pleasure in committing any number of vile and horrifying acts on the populace of nearby towns. Worst of all however, is the tendency of these monsters to kidnap a child, steal its soul and then sacrifice it.
This is where you come in. You are a good ghost, committed to being nice, and you have decided to save the kidnapped child with the aid of your laser rifle. This is by no means an easy task, as the child's soul has already been stolen. As a result of this, she cannot act of her own accord and needs you to direct her out of Ghost Manor to Ghost Headquarters, whilst blasting all the evil ghosts that bar your way.
Laser Ghost is another of Sega's not-quite conversions insofar that although the Operation Wolf-esque gameplay has been retained, a new element has been thrown in, that being the child you must protect. This adds a new angle to the gameplay, as you must remember to guide her around obstacles whilst all the time checking the ceaseless efforts of the ghosts as they try to keep hold of their captive.
Laser Ghost wouldn't be the same without a variety of gruesome ghoulies to destroy, so it's fortunate that there are plenty in this version. Among the spooky targets are bats, skeletons, haunted paintings, zombie tomatoes, animated suits of armour and even flying tables! But these are nothing when compared to the end-of-level guardians, which include mud zombies, fire-spitting portraits and possessed cars! Eeek!
Guiding the girl around is simple. It's just a case of shooting the ground at her feet to make her turn around. She will then take the first passage she faces, making it possible to direct her into tunnels to her left or right. Guiding the gun sights around is slightly more difficult, as they are automatically attracted to the centre of the screen, and therefore always drift that way when the control pad is released. Firing steadies the weapon, but this means it is impossible to move the gun and fire at the same time.
There are two modes of play open to would-be Laser Ghosts: one-player where the joypad is used to control the gun sights, trigger and special weapon, and simultaneous two-player in which the light phaser controls the gun sights and trigger, and the joypad controls the special weapon. This means that if you've got a mate who's a complete crip but wants to join in, you can give him the joypad and put him in control of when to use the smart bombs, where he can't do too much damage!
Should you mistakenly blast the girlie you're supposed to be protecting, this is what happens. Pretty Spooky, eh?
This story screen tells the savage tale of Ghost City's arrival in our plane of existance.
Laser Ghost was a fun coin-op, a sort of Beast Busters with infinite ammo, so I was pleased to see it being converted to the Master System. I shouldn't really have been surprised by the changes after having seen Line of Fire, but I still was. Luckily, this time, the gameplay has not been utterly mangled by the alterations, and indeed, it's quite a fun game. The graphics are certainly nothing inspiring, the sound is awful to say the least and to begin with, the control system is unnecessarily fiddly. But there's something about it which makes Laser Ghost quite enjoyable, especially with the light phaser. Phaser fans should be pleased with this, although anyone else would be advised to give it a go first.
A stunning-looking super-sounding ground-breaking game this isn't. But it's a good laugh, and that's what's important. The ever-moving cursor seems a bit of a pain at first, but once you get used to it the game soon becomes addictive and you start to enjoy yourself. There are loads of baddies to shoot, and I like the idea that you've got to keep one eye on the girlie, which adds a new dimension to the game and really keeps you on your toes. If you're looking for a fun light phaser game, or are just after a shoot 'em up that’s a bit different, check this out.