When Ghostbusters arrived on Sega Genesis in 1990, it did so with one major caveat: Winston Zeddemore wasn’t playable. Now, a group of fans are looking to right that wrong with a ROM hack over 30 years in the making. (h/t Ghostbusters News)
The development team of BillyTime! Games, Danilo Diaz, and Master Lunkeui recently shared the first in-game look at the work they’ve done adding Zeddemore to Ghostbusters. The sprite work is impressive on its own, but they’ve also gone the distance in giving Zeddemore his own attributes (each character in the original game has different stats that govern speed, health, and damage).
The project isn’t quite ready for the public, but you can see it in action below.
Zeddemore was first introduced in the original Ghostbusters movie. A fresh-faced recruit portrayed by Ernie Hudson, he acted as the audience surrogate, allowing veterans Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (the late Harold Ramis) to casually drop exposition on viewers.
Despite appearing in the 1989 movie sequel and a bunch of the franchise’s cartoon and comic book spin-offs, however, Zeddemore wasn’t featured as a playable character in Ghostbusters for Sega Genesis.
According to fansite Ghostbusters News, this was a common issue in those days, as Zeddemore was often left off promotional material like posters and DVD covers. Ernie Hudson’s name wasn’t even included in the headlining credits on some physical releases.
“I think the studio probably worked overtime to try and make sure that the Ghostbusters were always thought of as three guys,” Hudson told the Inside of You podcast last year. “I really appreciate the fans, who really embraced the character. At one point, Winston was one of the best-selling dolls they had, and they were surprised. I think that’s because fans really loved the character.”
It’s great that ROM hackers can now correct the Genesis game’s glaring omission. Preserving the medium’s classics, such as by dumping their data, is important for its historical and entertainment value, but archiving also allows new creators to mess around with a game’s content. And while, for the most part, this is only useful for, say, making ultra-hard Super Mario Bros. levels, in the case of Ghostbusters, it’s also allowed folks to give a beloved character the spotlight he deserves.