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Friday the 13th

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Friday the 13th was released by LJN in April 1988 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, based on the popular slasher film series of the same name, though the game doesn't follow one particular movie. Rather, the game is a hodge-podge of selected films.

Synopsis & Game Play

Infamous serial killer Jason Voorhees is terrorizing another group of camp counselors. However, this time Jason is also targeting the fifteen children under their care. The player takes on the role of one of the six counselors to defeat Jason and any natural (and supernatural) foe that threatens the safety of the children and fellow counselors. The six counselors are:

  • George (white male; slow runner, low jumper, slow rower)
  • Paul (token black guy; medium runner, medium jumper, slow rower)
  • Mark (white male; fast runner, high jumper, fast rower)
  • Laura (white female; medium runner, medium jumper, slow rower)
  • Debbie (white female; slow runner, low jumper, fast rower)
  • Crissy (white female; fast runner, high jumper, fast rower)

The game starts at daytime, goes to sunset, and then nighttime, remaining dark until Jason is defeated. During daytime, the only enemies the player faces on the main routes are zombies and Jason. At sunset and into night, more foes appear.

The game is broken up into two play modes: a run-&-jump side-scroller (while outside and in the cave) and a RPG-eque mode (while inside a cabin or room).

When Jason attacks a counselor or a cabin of children (each cabin houses 5 children), an alarm sounds and the player has 60 seconds to respond. Failure to reach the counselor/children in time will result in the death of the victim(s). The game ends when either all the camp counselors or campers die.

Enemies

  • Jason Voorhees: The main villain. Very tough and has a long life line. He's the only enemy that can attack somebody inside a cabin. Occasionally swims through Crystal Lake, damaging any counselor that's transversing the body of water.
  • Zombies: Jason's previous victims (presumably). Weak foes that sprout out of the ground. The player will encounter these the most (maximum of three zombies onscreen). After killing three zombies, the player can obtain a lighter (more on that below). Zombies also jumps out of the water of Crystal Lake while the player rows to or from the children's cabins.
  • Crow: Airborne foe. Comes onscreen high in the air, then sweeps down for one attack before flying off. The weakest enemy as one hit from any weapon will stop it.
  • Wolf: Four-footed predator. Hunts in the forest (starting at sunset[?]) and in the cave. The wolf will run up and leap at the controlled counselor. Can take several hits before going down.
  • Bat: Found only in the cave. Flies up and down; doesn't aim for the counselor.
  • Jason's Mother: The severed head of Pamela Voorhees. Hidden inside a room within the cave, Jason's mother floats around and strikes at the player. Can take a fairly good amount of damage, but defeating this fiend will net a useful weapon or item. Battling Pamela Voorhees is purely optional and isn't required to beat Jason.

Weapons & Items

Weapons

  • Rock: Default weapon. Very weak (3 hits to destroy a zombie); limited range; thrown at an arc.
  • Knife: First weapon upgrade; obtainable very early in the game and available throughout. Weak (2 hits to destroy a zombie) but fast; flies straight across the screen. Careless jumping can cause the counselor to grab a knife that appears in midair, losing whatever weapon he/she was holding at the time.
  • Machete: A strong, fast weapon in that it can take down a zombie in one strike. Flies across the screen like the knife but with a wider vertical width. Can be obtained by 1) killing a large amount of enemies, 2) defeating Jason's mom on Day 1 of the game with rocks or the knife, or 3) exploring one of the cabins hidden in the forest (you will need a key to get inside) though the machete only randomly appears.
  • Ax: Another strong weapon that flies across the screen. More powerful than the machete, but slower. Can be obtained by 1) defeating Jason's mother on Day 1 with the machete, or 2) randomly finding it inside one of the forest cabins on Day 2 or 3.
  • Torch: The second-most powerful weapon in the game. Has a limited range and is thrown at an arc like the rocks, but the torch remains on the ground for several seconds and destroys any minor foes that run into it. Can be obtained inside one of the larger cabins by lighting most of the fireplaces (which are found inside the larger cabins), including the two by Crystal Lake.
  • Pitchfork: The ultimate weapon. Powerful, fast, flies straight across the screen and through minor enemies, defeating them all. Can only be obtained by defeating Jason's mother on Day 3. There is only one pitchfork available (unlike the other weapons).

Items

Note: All these items can only be found during the side-scrolling part of gameplay unless otherwise noted.

  • Lighter: Used to light the fireplaces found in the larger cabins. Can be obtained early on by slaying at least three zombies.
  • Key: Unlocks the hidden cabins inside the forest and cave. Can be found shortly after obtaining the lighter.
  • Vitamin jar: Health item that can restore a little bit of the player's lifeline after it has been depleted or can be used on another counselor in the RPG-ish mode. Can be obtained during the daytime and sunset time periods (the vitamin jar seems to be more abundant in the forest).
  • Pamela Voorhees' sweater: This article of clothing protects the wearer from random appearances of Jason during the side-scrolling part of the game and reduces damages received from Jason by 50%. Only one is available, which can be obtained by defeating Jason's mother on Day 2 during the RPG-like mode.
  • Flashlight: Lights up the inside of the cave to find the hidden passages that could lead to the hidden cabin where Ms. Voorhees' severed head resides. The flashlight can be obtained in RPG-mode after lighting all the fireplaces.
  • Clues: Notes that sometimes gives the player directions in finding a weapon. Can be found inside the larger cabins by looking around.

Reception

Like most movie-based games, LJN's 'Friday the 13th' was a fairly poor game. The graphics were sub-par (whenever Jason used the ax in the RPG-mode, it looked like he was holding a bath brush) and gameplay got cheap later on when Jason became lightning fast in RPG-mode, making the battles very difficult. Many critics panned this game and 'Friday the 13th' appeared on several 'Worst NES Games' lists (Nintendo Power magazine, in Vol. 100, declared 'Friday the 13th' the worst game ever). However, despite its warts, the game seems to have an allure for some gamers. Some people have also stated that 'Friday the 13th' was one of the forerunners of survival-horror games like 'Resident Evil' and Silent Hill.

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