Halloween RetroSpective – Friday the 13th
If I were to ask you for your opinions on Friday the 13th, I might get a response like “thats a good film” or “it scared the s**t out of me”. Neither of those statements can be used for the survival horror game of the same name on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Created by the infamous studio LJN, the game certainly does not live up to the movie’s quality.
Unfortunately the game gets of to a very bad start, when having been given no instructions you are immediately thrown into a large map of Crystal Lake, the game’s setting, alongside a character selection screen. Here you can pick one of six camp councillors to start as, each having different characteristics that will aid you in certain situations.
Throughout the game you can change which character you are, but doing so will require you to find them in one of the many, many, cabins around the camp. These characters also act as your lives. So, if they fall to an untimely demise, you’ll no longer be able to use their skills.
As for the gameplay itself, well the game has a fair few confusing elements to say the least. For one, the game rather randomly requires you to light fireplaces within the cabins. In fact, it took me a long time to work out this was what was needed as the game gives you zero instruction. To add to the misery the fireplaces aren’t in all of the cabins and there are 21 of them!
What’s more, navigating around the map is also no easy task. You see, with the game being on a 2D plain, you would think that going left on the screen would relate to left on the map. However, this is not always the case, leading to large frustration (This will become more apparent later on).
On top of this, when you enter the forest or cave, there is literally no way to know where within them you actually are. Repetitive screens mean that trying to back track is also not an option, which leads to aimless wandering around until you somehow stumble out of the area. The cherry on top of all this is the ear wrenching audio which repeats on a very short loop. Unfortunately this cant be turned off, as the audio plays a key part in the Jason element.
The weapons in the game act in a similar way to the Castlevania series. Which to say the least is frustrating. You start with just throwing rocks, which for some baffling reason, arc in such a way that they fly over the top of most ground enemies, and require the accuracy of a sniper to hit the flying enemies. New items are found through killing enemies or by randomly jumping around. Yes, you read that right, just randomly jumping around. A few of the nest items are hidden in specific areas, but be careful not to jump into a worse weapon after you have found it.
In terms of enemies, well there is obviously Jason, but we will get to that disaster shortly. Before even seeing Jason you will encounter a number of enemies. There is a selection from your generic NES bad guys, including zombies, crows, wolves and bats. All of which have nothing to do with the Friday the 13th movie franchise. There is a neat day night cycle which increases enemy spawns at night, but other than this they simply serve as obstacles for when Jason isn’t around.
And so, here is where we come to the biggest problem in the game, Jason. Your quest is to defeat him by challenging him in the cabins. Every 90 seconds or so an alarm will sound (see why you cant turn the audio off) saying that Jason is about to murder one of your 6 councillors in one of the cabins. Flick up your map and you can see where he is, but good look trying to get there in the 60 seconds allotted. Is it left or right? are you stuck in the woods? Are you on the wrong side of the map? Do you have a good weapon? Have you accidentally picked up a worse weapon trying to run there?
These are all issues as they make the game a chore and not fun! If by some miracle you get there in time you will engage in a punch out style fight with Jason. Each time you defeat him he becomes a little bit stronger until he is finally defeated for good.
From you can see I am not a fan. There are aspects that I haven’t touched upon, such as the insane difficulty and the quite frankly woeful graphics. However, I really don’t think I need to say much more. Simply the game is repetitive, generic, and worst of all, not fun! It’d be more fun to meet Jason in a dark alley than play this game.