Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Review: Friday the 13th

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Console: Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Released: 1988
Developer: Pack-In-Video
Publisher: LJN (Acclaim)
Famicom? No
Instruction Manual: Helpful – Link
Difficulty: Hard
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $2.57 (pricecharting.com)
Price (eBay): $5-$10 (used) $100.00 (new/sealed)
Digital Release? No

What are you supposed to do?
Survive three day/night cycles while attempting to kill Jason.  You are given six camp counselors, three boys and three girls, each with one of three template play styles.  At random moments throughout the game Jason will attack another counselor, a group of the 15 children you are watching, or the counselor you’re currently playing as.  If he attacks another counselor or children, you have to find the cabin they are in and fight Jason.  If he attacks you, fight him and stay alive.  In order to eliminate Jason each day his life must be depleted, which requires the use of either the machete, torch or axe (technically you could probably do it with the rock or the knife, but it would take so long I wouldn’t recommend it).  To assist you on all three days you can find Jason’s hidden lair in the cave, fight his mother and receive a crucial item for the day.  On the first day you get a machete, on day 2 you get the sweater (which reduces damage from Jason by half) and on day 3 you get the pitchfork, which permanently kills him.  You will need to light fireplaces in big cabins with the lighter to move events forward.

Review
This game was doomed to suck for so many reasons, namely that it’s a game based on a movie and it’s published by LJN – Acclaim’s toy company that released licensed games.  Back in the day I thought this game sucked because I couldn’t figure out what you were supposed to do.  In typing this out I realize that this game was quite complex and possibly even mildly innovative for the time.  Day/night cycles, fetch quests and even legions of undead zombies are par for the course of bad license games of today and they’re all in Friday the 13th.  Unfortunately this game still fails to succeed because the cheap kills invalidate the concept of “challenge”.

Aside from figuring out what to do, many of the key factors of this game rely on random spawns, endless fetch quests that can be interrupted by untimely Jason attacks and a specific formula.  Perhaps you don’t know that the same counselor needs to collect the sweater and pitchfork in order to even have a chance on day 3.  Maybe you don’t know that dying with any key item prevents you from beating the game.  Heck, maybe you don’t even know that there are multiple days to survive.  If this is the case, then you can’t beat this game.  Furthermore, you won’t even want to.  I won’t spoil the ending, but I assure you it will do nothing but disappoint.

Everything that prevents this game from being a standard side-scrolling action title is a hinderance to its attempt at fun.  You don’t need multiple counselors, except as cannon fodder, save for Mark and Laura (who are interchangeable).  Attempts at switching up the scenery with the forest creates a randomized maze that can’t even be covered in a walkthrough and it seems like the navigation of a cabin is purposefully attempting to get you lost as well.  Jason deals a ridiculous amount of damage, although he is easy to dodge on the first two days, and unless you know what you’re doing you’ll never get a shot at him.  In the end Friday the 13th is just too many time-consuming tedious tasks that net no feeling of accomplishment.  On the other hand it is a campy example of what made thrown together games so horrible and reminded everyone to steer clear of these licenses.  Many say this game has merit and is fun despite the bad reputation, but this is not true, this game may not even be worth a virtual console price of five dollars.  Aside from all that, how can you trust a developer called “Pack-in-Video” in the first place?

Written by Fred Rojas

January 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

Posted in NES, Reviews

Tagged with , , , ,

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