Friday the 13th (NES)

Friday the 13th Box Art

Friday the 13th

System: NES

Release Date: February 1989

Developer: Atlus

Publisher: LJN

Genre: Action

Jason Voorhees is out to terrorize the counselors and campers of Camp Crystal Lake with his own special brand of murder in Friday the 13th! In fact, Jason has murdered seven films worth of children and teens by the time this title was released. You play the role of six camp counselors and it’s up to you to stop Jason before he kills all the campers or the players. The counselors have their own attributes when it comes to strength, speed, and jumping. Mark is the MVP of the group, being able to run, row, and jump the best of everyone. Crissy is a close second. Everyone else kind of sucks.

You begin the game on the map screen where you can choose one of the six counselors to take control of. They will each be occupying different cabins, where they stay when they are not the active character. Each counselor has their own inventory that must be built independently. They also can collect ever strengthening weapons. Items don’t start appearing for a counselor until they kill a certain number of zombies. Then a lighter appears and you can unlock hidden knives, keys, vitamins, and more by jumping. The first goal the game gives you is to light all the fireplaces in the large cabin. You supposedly unlock a flashlight by doing this, but I was unable to get it to work.

Jason makes a loop around the camp, attacking the cabins the counselors are in. You have to either run there really fast or get to another small cabin and switch to the counselor under attack and fight the Sultan of Slash himself. He is found on one of the walls of the cabin and moves around in a left and right pattern, stopping to take a swing at you. Once you understand the pattern, it’s not convoluted, you can duck, dodge, and counter attack. Hitting him seven times causes him to run off. If you leave the cabin, he’ll be waiting outside and you’ll fight him in the sidescrolling portion. Again, hit him seven times while dodging his attacks and he runs off. The most annoying thing in the game occurs when Jason is in the lake and he motors through you for unavoidable damage.

The game starts in the day time and zombies start popping up from the ground. The counselors begin equipped with weak-sauce rocks, but can upgrade to knives, machetes, axes, torches, and the pitchfork. I didn’t ever find the pitchfork, but I didn’t need it. As you enter cabins, you may find a note on the ground. Seeing the notes with the counselors allows them to find items hidden around the camp. You can game this pretty easily to get torches fast on the first day. While entering cabins, the time begins to tick by and night descends. Zombies seem to move and spawn a little more quickly at night and crows begin to appear, as well. Strong wolves appear in the woods at night and will take away a lot of health if you don’t dodge.

In order to survive the night, you have to defeat Jason. This is easy on the first night, but he speeds up and throws punches more rapidly in the next nights. Showing a bit of mercy, the surviving counselors are healed between nights. The severed zombified head of Mrs. Voorhees is hidden in the cave and defeating her gives an item. The final battle against Jason took me about a dozen tries, because it requires pixel perfect dodging.

Graphics: 2.0

The graphics are fine. There’s a lot of yellow and green, but there are plenty of details.

Sound: 2.0

The sound is also fine. It’s not bad, but does get repetitive.

Gameplay: 2.0

The controls fight with you until you get the quirks down.

Difficulty: 3.0

Guess what, this game is mostly fair. Jason attacks for unavoidable damage at some points, which is stupid, but I guess he is nearly immortal. The instruction manual also gives you a pretty detailed explanation of the game.

Fun Factor: 2.5

I found myself enjoying the game once I understood what I was supposed to do. I suffered a few party wipes until I got to that point and I was about to quit before giving it one more shot.

Overall Grade: 2.3

Friday the 13th earns a C+. This game isn’t nearly as bad as young me remembers or the internet has made it out to be. Give it a shot, don’t give up right away, and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Friday the 13th Video Review on YouTube