Friday the 13th

      Video games and horror movies have a rather shaky relationship. Horror movies based on video games range from somewhat watchable films such as Resident Evil to terrible films such as Silent Hill to crimes against humanity such as House of the Dead and Alone in the Dark. Likewise, video games based on horror franchises aren't much better. From contemporary games like Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick to the Atari 2600's Texas Chainsaw Massacre, nearly every horror franchise has been butchered beyond recognition by game developers hoping to make a quick buck. In many ways, LJN's Friday the 13th NES game is not the exception to this rule. The game blatantly ignores canon to the point where one wonders if the designers ever even saw a Friday the 13th movie. But despite its disregard for the property it's based on, Friday the 13th is pretty competent video game that could be considered an early entry into the now-popular survival horror genre. But don't take my word for it. Instead, you should read my needlessly long analysis of the game and then make up your own mind. That, or hit the "Home" button on your browser. It's your call. But I'm doing this review whether it interests you or not. Here it comes...


      When I was nine, I was strictly forbidden from watching movies intended for people considerably older than I. As such, I was not allowed to see Predator, Halloween 4, Child's Play, Friday the 13th Part VI, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Hellraiser, or any of the the other violently awesome movies that came out in the late 80s and early 90s. Despite this, I was given free reign over video game rentals. So while I didn't see Total Recall until I was in high school, I was allowed to play its craptastic NES game to my heart's content. The only game I was expressly forbidden from renting was Taboo: The Sixth Sense, because the store owner had put a warning on the box saying that it was not intended for persons under the age of 18. In actuality, the cartridge was not intended for use by persons under the age of FOURTEEN, but that's doesn't really matter. Taboo was a piece of crap, so it's not like I really missed out on anything. Renting games based on R movies became a minor form of rebellion for me, as well as a way to obtain information about movies my more worldly friends claimed to have seen so that I could try to bullshit them into thinking that I had seen grown-up movies too. This actually worked more often than not, because my friends were fucking liars. Bringing home a movie game was always exciting because I was getting a glimpse, however inaccurate, of an otherwise forbidden world. Most of these games turned out to be pretty disappointing, with Total Recall and Top Gun being the worst. Friday the 13th, on the other hand, was actually pretty good. From the moment I booted up the cartridge, the game had my attention. The opening scene shows Jason's mask lying in the middle of an otherwise empty black screen. Suddenly, a dagger fly across the screen and lands in one of eyeholes of the mask and the mask suddenly turns red. You know, like it's bloody or something. From that moment on, the game had my undivided attention.


      As with most of the better Friday the 13th movies, the game takes place in and around Crystal Lake, the cursed ground where Jason kills the stupid fucking teenagers who keep showing up there every few years despite all the previous murders that have occurred there. This time around, we have six camp counselors vying for the chance to be killed by Mr. Voorhees, as well as the unlucky kids who are stuck in their care. Your goal will be to keep as many counselors and children alive as you can for three days and three nights. And while the days are relatively short, the nights will not end until you manage to defeat Jason. But we'll get into that later. First, let's meet the cast...



      There are six counselors, three boys and three girls. The playable versions of the boys and girls are nearly indistinguishable save two minor differences: the girls have slightly longer hair and their monochrome outfits come in slightly gayer colors. The counselors in this game all appear to be original creations. Chrissy and Debbie sort of resemble their namesakes from Friday the 13th Part 3, but it's probably just a coincidence.


      Meet George. Don't let his friendly smile fool you, George sucks and he is not your friend. George is fucking slow. George is so slow, in fact, that he couldn't win against a race against the guy in the wheelchair from Friday the 13th Part 2. On top of that, his jumping skills are poor, and he can't row for shit. George is pretty much useless, but you might want to keep him near the lake so you can send him off to save the children from Jason attacks and keep the more important counselors healthy.


      This is Mark. Mark can run the fastest, jump really high, and row like nobody's business. Due to his speed and evasion skills, he will be one of the two counselors you use the most. He will be sent running all over camp looking for weapons, collecting vitamins, and lighting fireplaces.


      Meet Paul. As the token black guy, he has decent jumping ability, average speed, and horrible rowing skills. Use him if Mark's been killed or badly beaten, otherwise there's no real reason to bother with him.


      This is Laura. Laura has decent speed, average jumping, and the absolute worst rowing ability in the entire game. She's useable, but she shouldn't be your first choice. Still, she's better than...


      Debbie. Debbie can't jump or run, but she can row like nobody's business. Since she's only good for rowing, you should keep her close to the lake for when you need to row out and rescue the children from Jason. Also, her head looks like a Buzzy Beetle.


      This is Chrissy. Chrissy is the best female character. She's fast, she has solid rowing skills, and she can jump higher than anyone else. Chrissy rules. Along with Mark, she's the only character you should really be using.


      These are the unfortunate children who are stuck in your care. Although you will never see more than five of them at once, there are fifteen of them. You might wonder why you need six counselors to take care of fifteen kids or why you need female counselors when the children all appear to be boys, but don't; you're not going to get a satisfactory answer, so you might as well ignore it. While Jason generally preferred stalking irresponsible sex-crazed teenagers to slaughtering children, he is far less discerning in his NES game. He will attack the children to draw you to him, and if you fail to show up promptly, he will start killing the kids instead. If you fail to respond to the alarm when Jason attacks the lakeside cabins that house the children, he will kill five of the children and leave. This may not seem so bad, but it is. If you run out of children to counsel, you lose the game. To make matters worse, you won't even get paid.



      You might think that a legendary slasher like Jason could handle killing six counselors and a handful of kids all by himself... but you'd be wrong. Jason has recruited massive amounts of baddies to aid him in his pointless violent quest. Even if you can get past the idea of Voorhees having help, none of his servants are creatures that you'd really expect to align themselves with the unstoppable undead retard.


      First, Jason has enlisted the help of a flock of crows. Yes, long before Resident Evil sent zombie crows at you, Friday the 13th made you survive the sheer terror of regular crows. When crows appear along the camp roads, they do not pose much danger to you. Their swoop attacks are easily dodged by everyone except George or Debbie, and they can be killed in one hit with ANY weapon.


      Next, there are wolves. Wolves come in two colors, blue wolves are found in the cave and brown wolves dwell in the woods. Aside from the palette swap, there is no difference between the two types of wolves... they both are a fucking pain in the ass. Not only are wolves almost as fast as Mark and Chrissy, but they always take multiple hits to kill. You are better off trying to dodge these bastards than fighting them.


      Jason's other main allies in this game is this game are... ZOMBIES!? According to the instruction booklet, the zombies are "past victims of one of Jason's murderous rampages." You might think they'd be pissed at Jason, you know, for killing them, but they're not. Instead, they're more than willing to assist him in killing you. Aside from Jason, zombies will be your main enemy in the game. They will rise out of the ground and attack you no matter where you go and up to three of them can be on the screen at once. They will also attack you from the depths of the lake. Although zombies are plentiful, they're nothing to worry about. They're easy to kill and even easier to dodge, so long as you're not using a slow counselor. The game also rewards you for killing these undead bastards, so take out as many of them as possible.

      There are also bats in the game, but they don't pose any threat and don't deserve a screenshot.



      Just because you're busy trying not to get killed by Jason and his armies of zombies and birds, that doesn't mean you can't still have have some fun and explore the camp! With a positive mental attitude and some hard work, you can still make this the best summer EVER!


      There are small cabins scattered throughout the camp. When a counselor is not currently in use, they are hanging out in a small cabin. Thus, if you want to switch counselors, you have to bring your active counselor to a small cabin to do so. Be warned though, Jason is always on the prowl and he will often bust into the small cabins and attack inactive counselors. When this happens, you will either need to switch to the counselor that's under attack and fight Jason or bring another counselor to the cabin to fight Jason instead. Time stops in these cabins, so you can duck into one of these during Jason attack and figure out what you're going to do without worrying about running down the death clock.


      In addition to the small cabins, there are also seven large cabins around camp. Each large cabin has a fireplace in it. Lighting fireplaces will help you find the torch and lighting all of them will earn you the flashlight. Lighting the fireplace in a large cabin will also prevent Jason from entering it. This is not particularly useful though, because the fire will eventually burn out and your counselors cannot rest in the large cabins anyway. Large cabins can also hold clues as to where you'll find better weapons and the one of the two large cabins around the lake will be home to the torch when it becomes available.


      The counselors in the Friday the 13th franchise don't have a reputation for being particularly smart, and the ones in this game don't do anything to break that stereotype. Case in point: they thought they could keep the campers safer by hiding them in cabins on Crystal Lake. You know, the very lake where Jason drowned. The same lake that is often his resting place. Yeah, GREAT idea. Jason has no trouble finding the children on the lake, but YOU will have a bitch of a time getting there. The lake is filled with zombies of the drowned and crows will swoop and attack you as you row. These enemies are both fairly easy to dodge, but since you only have 60 seconds to rescue the children when the alarm sounds, you're usually forced to eat up the damage in the interest of time, especially if you send a mediocre rower.


      There are two optional areas of the game that you don't need to explore: the woods and the cave. There are two sections of woods, each with a hidden cabin. If you find one of these cabins and you have a key, you might find one of Jason's weapons inside. But since it's easy to get lost in the woods and since you can't find either of the game's two most powerful weapons in the secret cabins, there's no real reason to access them. The cave on the other hand, is quite useful. Jason's secret lair is inside the cave, and it holds powerful items that you can't obtain anywhere else.



      Below you will find all of the recurring items and weapons that appear in Friday the 13th. There are two super special items which can only be obtained once per game which we'll cover later. Until then, let's concentrate on these items:


Rocks. Rocks are the most basic weapon in the game, and each counselor starts equipped with an endless supply of them. If you are a fan of the movies, you probably know that Jason absolutely hates being pelted with rocks, they're like Kryptonite to him. OK, that's not true. Rocks barely damage the undead mama's boy; it takes six rocks to do one point of damage to Mr. Voorhees. It also takes three rocks to kill a zombie, so you'll want to upgrade as soon as possible. The slower counselors will not last long with this as their weapon.
The Lighter. As you set off exploring the camp, the lighter is usually the first item you'll find. It appears after you kill a few zombies, and if you somehow miss it, it will keep appearing until you pick it up. Once you have a lighter, you can start fires in large cabins.
The Knife. The knife is the second weakest item in the game, but it's considerably better than rocks. You get it randomly by jumping around and killing enemies on the camp trails.
Vitamins. As you travel down the camp trails, you will randomly find bottles of vitamins lying about. You can carry up to seven bottles and your active counselor can administer them to other counselors and heal their wounds. Unfortunately, the counselors can't use the medicine on themselves, nor can they pass them to other counselors. However, if you die while carrying medicine, you will automatically use a bottle and regain a small amount of health. Vitamins appear at random, but they appear much more frequently in the woods and the cave.
The Key. The hidden rooms in the cave and the woods are locked, so you will need a key to enter them. Keys appear at random, but if you keep jumping around and killing zombies, you'll eventually find one.
The Machete. The machete is the first really useful weapon, and it's the only weapon besides the knife that you can obtain on camp trails. But while the knife appears at random, you earn a machete for every 60 zombies you kill. The machete can also be found at random in the hidden cabins in the woods and it can be retrieved from the cave on the first day.
The Axe. Slightly more powerful than machete, but significantly slower, the axe is Jason's apparent weapon of choice in this game. The axe can only be obtained in hidden rooms, but it's not really worth your time to track it down because it's so fucking slow.
The Flashlight. Ah, the flashlight. A flashlight has never been of any use in a horror movie, so it shouldn't surprise you to learn that it's of little use in the video game. The flashlight is obtained by lighting all the fireplaces in camp and once you have it, you can see hidden paths in caves. Sounds useful, right? Wrong. You can find the hidden paths without it.
The Torch. The torch is one of the two most powerful weapons in the game. It is somewhat slow, but it will take off one full point of Jason's health. You will find it in one of the large cabins near Crystal Lake after you've lit most of the fireplaces. Finding it is usually preceded by finding a note somewhere telling you to search the cabins by the lake.



      Despite having died in the first movie, Pamela Voorhees appears in the game as an optional boss. Pam's severed head, which first appeared in Friday the 13th Part 2, makes a triumphant return in the video game. But unlike the movie, where it was exanimate, this time her head is very much alive. Mrs. Voorhees is found in the cave, and she is surprisingly simple to locate. The cave is supposed to be a maze, but her lair is ridiculously easy to find. From the entrance, go left and jump over the two small pits. Then go through the door on the second ledge. If you don't see a door, then clearly you didn't click this link from the flashlight description. You can only fight Mrs. Voorhees once each day, and each time you will be handsomely rewarded. Let's watch...


      On the first day, Mrs. Voorhees is rather slow. Her skin is blue and her hair is purple. She flies around in a predictable pattern, occasionally swooping down to attack. When she attacks, you need to get out of the way; ducking won't save you from her attacks. If you manage to defeat her, you will be awarded Jason's machete. If you already have a machete, you will get the axe instead. You can get the machete from killing zombies and the axe kinda sucks, so there's no real reason to visit Jason's mommy on this day. It's good for practice though.


      On the second day, Pam will be fast and she'll sometimes attack twice in a row. Also, her head has changed colors, possibly as the result of rapid decomposition. This time around her hair is yellow and her skin is hot pink. If you beat Mrs. Voorhees on this day, you will receive her sweater. The counselor who wears Mrs. Voorhees' sweater will take 50% less damage from Jason and will be less likely to run into him on the trails. This is probably the best item in the game and it's non-transferable, so make sure you give to a good counselor. And make sure that counselor doesn't die... you can't get another sweater.


      On the third day, Jason's mom will have changed colors yet again. This time she's got green skin and red hair. If you can beat her on this day, you will get the pitchfork, the most powerful weapon in the game. Like the torch, the pitchfork takes off one of Jason's life points per hit. The pitchfork is a better weapon because it's faster and it doesn't stop when it connects with an enemy. Thus, if there are two or three zombies marching towards you, you can take them all down with one toss of your trusty farming tool. However, Jason's mother is a total bitch on this day. She is faster than ever and she will double attack every time. Since the torch will do just as must damage to Jason, there's no real reason to pursue this weapon unless you're looking for something interesting to do.



      As the main villain in the Friday the 13th game, Jason is a vicious unrelenting killer. If you don't know what you're doing, Jason can wreck you in a matter of seconds. However, once you know how to fight him, he's really not so bad. So let's take a closer look at Jason and see if we can't discern the rather transparent methods to his madness...


      Jason fights occur in one or two places, in cabins or on the trail. Jason is much easier to fight in the cabins, particularly on the first day, because he moves in slow predictable patterns. When Jason attacks, duck. Dodging will do you no good. Whenever Jason gives you an opening, counterattack. After you've hit him several times, he'll leave you alone. The first time you encounter Jason on each day, he'll attack you with his fists. Although Jason isn't known for beating people to death with bare hands, he'll still do sick damage to your counselors if he hits with them. And if you recall the infamous sleeping bag scene in the seventh movie, you'll know this doesn't break canon.


      There are two things that Jason is not known for. One is his speed, the other is his swimming ability. And yet, he is unmatched in both areas in his video game. Jason will rush at you out of nowhere on the camp trails, hurl axes you, and then rush away just as quickly if you manage to fight back. This greatly contrasts with the movies, where he'd slowly lumber around and kill coeds. But hey, I can understand the need to speed up Video Game Jason. In the movies, Jason's slowness made him ominous and scary. His victims would run away from him at top speed and then suddenly find him in front of them. That doesn't work so well in a video game. If Video Game Jason was as slow as Movie Jason, he'd never hit you. He'd slowly swing his machete at you and you'd keep dodging and attacking until you had thoroughly owned his ass. It would be so stupidly easy that no one would play the game. So I can forgive the speed thing. However, I can't forgive the swimming. If you're at all familiar with Jason's backstory, you know he was a deformed child who drowned in Crystal Lake. Some mean kids threw him in the water, the counselors were too busy having sex to notice, and he couldn't swim. So Jason not being able to swim is kind of, I don't know, THE CORNERSTONE OF THE WHOLE FUCKING FRANCHISE. And yet, Video Game Jason loves to swim. When you row out to the cabins on the lake, Jason will often swim by at an ungodly speed and hit you for some cheap damage. And I do mean cheap: Jason's water attack cannot be dodged.


      Your first cabin encounter with Jason each day will never be your last. You will constantly find yourself being called to cabins to save the children or defend your counselors. The second time you fight Jason, he will use his trademark machete. If you beat him, he will abandon it and return with an axe. I'm not quite sure who decided that Jason's weapon progression should end with an axe, but I don't agree with it. Jason is most closely associated with the machete and the machete looks way more menacing anyway. Your strategy against Jason will be the same as it was when he was just using his fists but be careful; Jason inflicts far more damage when he has a weapon. Jason will start to get faster each time you encounter him, and he will occasionally attack twice in rapid succession. He generally sticks with the axe once he gets it, but he will randomly switch back to fists every once in a while just because he can. Once you perfect your ducking skills, fighting Jason just becomes a matter of patience. Slowly but surely, you'll bring his lifebar down. When it gets to zero, you'll enjoy a fleeting victory...


      If you beat Jason on the first day, you get a message telling you that he's back and even stronger. And they're not lying. In the cabins, Jason will double attack far more often than before and he will sometimes get massive speed boosts that make him harder to dodge. Things aren't all bad though. All your surviving counselors are back up to full health. Jason is too, but he has the same amount of health as before. Since you're starting the day with better weapons, you will be able to kill him faster than you did before. If you have the torch, you might even want to hunt Jason and take him out quickly. That's right, you can actually turn the tables on Jason. One of the coolest features of this game is that Jason is always SOMEWHERE in camp. Just as your counselors have to physically walk everywhere, so does Jason. If you leave a cabin immediately after fighting Jason, you will almost always encounter him right away on the trail outside. If you don't, start running in either direction; if you're fast, you have a 50/50 chance of finding him. Hunting Jason takes more than a little bit of luck. When you fight him on the trails, you will always see him exit the screen to the right. However, he doesn't always move to the right. He will sometimes go to the left instead, or up a nearby path. It's up to you to guess. Jason will also hide in cabins, and that includes the secret cabins in the woods. But if you're lucky and/or good, you can absolutely wreck Jason on the second day. Although his life total doesn't show up when you fight him on the trails, he takes the same amount of damage from your weapon that he would take in the cabins. At one life point per hit, the torch will down him pretty damn quick. Depending on how good your ducking skills are, you might prefer to fight Jason on the trails on the second and third day; his trail techniques don't change at all over the three days. If you manage to beat Jason on the second day, you'll get another message telling you that Jason is still alive and even stronger. This time around, Jason's cabin attacks will be insane. He will be super fast and he will always double attack. In order to successfully hit Jason during his cabin attacks on this day, you will need to duck left just before he throws the first blow. If you've timed it right, you will dodge both of his blows with one duck and you'll pop up just in time to hit him. Once again, it's easier to fight him on the trail, so do that as much as possible. If you manage to beat Jason on this day, you will get to see the game's super awesome ending...


      If you beat Jason for the third and final time, you get to see the same graphic you saw when you beat him on the second day accompanied by new text! Oh man, what an awesome reward. The congratulatory screen is a punctuation nightmare, complete with an ellipsis, a double exclamation point, and a double period. Apparently no one at LJN was privy to the existence of The AP Stylebook. Punctuation aside, the ending is still absolutely terrible. You have killed Jason... or have you? No, of course you haven't. He's freaking Jason, and he'll continue to resurface as long as horrible movies can be made so cheaply that they're guaranteed to make a profit. The only way the game's ending could be MORE cliche is if the words "DUN DUN DUN!" before "END". And why doesn't it say THE END? You know what, nevermind. I don't want to think about this bullshit ending anymore.

      Despite having a more poorly written ending than Super Mario Bros. 3, Friday the 13th is a pretty satisfactory game. Between this game and Jaws, LJN somehow managed to help pioneer the survival horror genre. This is quite a feat considering that LJN was just a subsidiary of Acclaim and that Acclaim sucks. Don't get me wrong, Friday the 13th is far from perfect. The game has little respect or understanding for the source material and the graphics are only mediocre at best, but the game has a way of sucking you in and keeping you so preoccupied that you almost don't notice those massive flaws. Almost.


Posted by: Syd Lexia