FRIDAY THE 13TH
Nintendo Entertainment System
Genre: Action Platformer
It almost seems laughable to review this given the reputation that this game has already, but you have to hear me out. Growing up, this game was a game that scared the hell out of me. I was five or so but bear with me. When I found it as I started my collecting, I figured shelling out a few bucks would be worth it, and it was definitely worth what I paid. It is well known for its unforgiving difficulty and repetitive nature, and it is certainly guilty of both of those things. If you have a couple of hours to kill, though, it’s not such a bad experience.
When ‘Friday the 13th’ was released, it was the year that ‘The New Blood’, the seventh in the series, was released. Riding the coattails of success of the series, this game was developed by LJN, a company that delved into other movie games like ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Back to the Future’, and unfortunately for the company, it put out yet another terrible movie adaptation for the NES. Looking down their list of games, it actually seems that most of those “TMAs”- that’s what I’ll call them now- that I remember came from them. The game features very classic themes from the movies. Taking place at Camp Crystal Lake, you play as one of six camp counselors spending three days at the camp. As usual, the counselors find themselves at the hands of Jason Voorhees, the famed killed of Camp Blood, and an epic battle of rocks, pitchforks, and severed heads comes to fruition. As you battle Jason, you upgrade your weapons and have to keep the kids safe who are attending the camp. Sounds a lot like the movies, right?
Unfortunately, this is all there is to do. In the midst of zombies, crows, and other things that go bump in the night, all you can do is run in circles and beef up to hopefully not die at the hands of the many dangers. This would be more interesting if half of your characters weren’t slow to the point of vegetative and can’t avoid being more than just fodder to protect those who are actually useful. As a helpful hint, keeping Crissy and Mark alive (and even Laura) is the only way you’ll win the game. Don’t expect to keep the other counselors much longer than day two if you decide to use them. The caves of Crystal Lake hide the secret of Jason’s mother, Pamela, and an ode to her fate in the original film, and the forest is appropriately a maze that will make you wonder how you got in there and how to get out. Another tip: There is a cabin with a great weapon out there… if you can find the damn thing.
The graphics and music are nothing to write home about. No one has a face, and when you run into him in the field, Jason looks like a garbage collector. The backgrounds and scenery, though, are nice and give a great mood to the game. Watch the sunset that shows up before night. It’s kind of a nice 8-bit painting. The music consists of three or four tracks recycled through the entire game. Again, it fits the mood, but you really get the sense that you’re watching the series. Just the same stuff over and over again.
Now, as I’m bashing the game through most of this review, I have to point out some up side to it. It does serve as a nice ode to the series. Everything from Pamela’s sweater to the weapons and locale are true to the series. My only issue with staying true to the series was the addition of every other enemy, but I could see how the game would be boring by only running away from and into Jason in this format. It had to be pepped up somehow. Even the names of the counselors are derived from others in the series. I admit, I’m steeped in a bit of nostalgia when I play this game. Also, the challenge of the game does amp up quite a bit throughout playing. A lot of general criticism goes to the impossible difficulty of the game, but I always felt it was too easy. Once you get the basic timing and ideas around the game, it’s not a difficult task to keep all of your counselors alive and most of the kids on the lake. The game served its purpose as a piece of fan service. Anyone looking for a classic is not going to find it here, but that’s not what the game is about.
Now, the main question is this game standing up to the test of time. I still enjoy it as much as I did when I played it when I first owned it. It’s not scary anymore, but it is a challenge. It is a frustrating challenge, though as daunting as it may be, it certainly isn’t the worst movie translation I’ve played. I would say that anyone who is a hardcore Friday fan should check it out. Anyone else? It’s a mindless platformer. There’s no two ways around it. If you want to play a game that isn’t needlessly complicated or full of plot, it’s a time waster. This game, in my eyes, is a personal favorite. It is not, though, anywhere near the pinnacle of the Nintendo’s game library.