keskiviikko 26. tammikuuta 2011

REVIEW - Friday the 13th (1989)

Genre(s): Action
Released: 1989
Available on: NES
Developer(s): Pack-In Video
Publisher(s): LJN
Players: 1

What Dracula is to Frankenstein and vice versa, Jason Voorhees is to Freddy Krueger. Jason's little more of a persistent bugger than Freddy, though. He has been around ever since 1980's horror classic Friday the 13th, although as we all even less dedicated horror fanatics know, he wasn't the killer in that particular flick. An early version of him only appeared in the ending of the film as a sequel-paving spook, while the actual killer in that movie was his mother Pamela. Jason went on to appear as the prime evil in a total of nine direct Friday sequels before appearing in the Friday/Elm Street crossover Freddy vs. Jason, and finally, a reboot of the Friday the 13th franchise, in which the goddess Julianna Guill and her pair of 10+ bare breasts made a big screen debut, so Jason was kind of a side character in that movie in my opinion. Enough talk about the movies, but I wanted to bring the Freddy vs. Jason bit up for a reason. Less than a while ago, I did a review of LJN's A Nightmare on Elm Street. It just so happens that about a year before its release, LJN also covered Jason's beloved slasher franchise. A Nightmare on Elm Street's a bad game, no doubt about it, but I find it playable to some extent, while Friday the 13th on the NES is one horrible display of LJN at their worst. And that's pretty bad, mind you!

Like a machete to the skull

Six camp counselors and a group of kids settle at Crystal Lake. The camping area is invaded by the mentally deranged murderer Jason Voorhees, who begins a hunt for the counselors and children alike. The counselors need to work together to put an end to Jason's madness.

Do you remember an NES game called Silent Assault? I don't blame you if you don't, I almost missed it as a kid myself. It was quite a decent game, in which you controlled some sort of a commando type and hunted down aliens that had invaded the Earth. Pretty decent run 'n' gun action. I'm sure you find this pretty damn interesting and all, but what does it have to do with Friday the 13th? Absolutely nothing. Oh, but there is one thing. Silent Assault was an unlicensed game, meaning it didn't have the official Nintendo seal of quality on it. Friday the 13th does - so much for the validity of the seal of quality. It's more like seal of quantity. I'm not sure if I've ever played a worse NES game so far than Friday the 13th. Oh, wait, I have: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. I had already forgotten about it! What a week I'm having, huh? Well, unlike Attack, Friday the 13th is the type of God-awful game that rather makes me laugh than pisses me off. You just know even before playing the game, that it's going to be one of the most laughable and tedious gaming experiences you've ever had.

The graphics aren't worth a dime. First of all, the character avatars look like early prototypes of Nintendo Miis. Everyone's so damn happy even if there's a blood lusting maniac on their trail. The Jason sprite is pathetic, and every playable character looks female. It's like they took this one female sprite, let's say that of Crissy's, and then just changed the palette with each character, forgetting about the physical differences between men and women. Every environment looks exactly the same. The sound is simply nerve wrecking, all the way from the putrid sound effects to something that can't even be called music.

"Mark, I've come to tell you that this thing
between us... it just doesn't work. I'm an ugly
bundle of pixels, you're an ugly bundle of
pixels. We're too much alike. Both of us have
breasts, for God's sake."
The game's plot is (very loosely) based on the first movie. Let's see, Jason looks like a middle-aged, fat pedophile and at first he isn't even holding any sort of weapon; every time you see him, he throws a rock or something at you as if trying to annoy you rather than to kill you, or sloppily beats you with his fists like some low-level opponent in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!. As the game progresses, Jason's variety of weapons does too, to the usual: a knife, an axe, a machete. Kind of weird from Nintendo to accept something like this, and surprisingly authentic management by LJN... the one and only example of it. Pamela Voorhees does appear in the game... as some sort of a Medusa-like boss. There are zombies, or something, I'm not quite sure what they are, wandering around the whole camping area. It's a good thing that LJN was always right on the mark with these movie licenses! The designer must've been on dope or else he was just plain retarded. "Oh, so we're making a horror game? What's it called? Friday the 13th? OK. What's it about? A crazy killer on some summer camp? OK, I'll see what I can do." Enter a huge, very much alive severed head, and a pack of zombies. Hey, it's a horror game so it's gotta have something! A large, mute, deformed and deranged guy with the primitive urge to kill, and who's always one step ahead of you, is not scary. What next? Vampires inhabiting the caves by the lake? No, actually it's Mrs. Voorhees' aforementioned head that inhabits the cave by the lake.

The so called idea of the game is to switch between six camp counselors, who all have some special talents, wander around the camp for three in-game days and nights and save as many kids as possible, and yourself as well, from Jason and his zombie buddies. If you can survive and protect the others for the required three days and nights, the game is over. This only takes something like 45 minutes in actual time, but of course you could spend that time doing something more creative, like... I know, learn to sing "Kumbaya" through your nasal cavity! Seriously, 45 minutes is a short time, but you'd be amazed how tight of a virtual noose can be strung around your neck by a game in such a quick zap.

I wonder if Paul is aware that the black guy's
always the first one to die in the field of horror?
The Crystal Lake "world map" is a mess, but you need to figure out fast ways to move around the camp, 'cause the game literally consists of running around it, and not just to any random spot, but to Jason's location and prevent him from killing a group of kids or your fellow counselors. The game's over if all of the annoying brats die, or if all of your colleagues die. How do you find Jason, then? Well, there's the Jason alarm which goes off just about every five seconds, disrupting whatever you were doing. You need to check the map for Jason's current location and somehow find your way to him and play a quick game of Punch-Out!! against him, as quickly as possible, or you're screwed. Whenever you're NOT bothered by the Jason alarm, you can just freely go into the cabins and light their fireplaces to prevent Jason from ever entering those particular cabins again. Yeah, that's right. A fire a day keeps Jason away. Don't ask why, but that's just how it is. You can switch between the counselors any time, or wait until you randomly meet another one so you can pass him/her your items, and then switch to that guy or gal. There are also some random items, or rather clues, found in the houses, which don't make much sense, if at all.

What's most tedious about interior areas in this game is most definitely the 3D experiment the developers found crucial to go with them. It's hard to find a way back out of the cabins, and all of them look exactly the same. Back in the late 80's, it was perfectly OK to do small-time experiments with 3D and demonstrate its capabilities, but it was not cool at all to stick incomplete stuff into a commercial game. Not even a commercial game as bad as Friday the 13th.

It's not a hard game. It's boring. Constantly moving between a dozen different spots on the map that all look exactly the same with the ultimate goal to light up some stupid fireplaces, doing that occasional retarded deathmatch with young master Voorhees, and jumping from one end of the map to another once that annoying alarm rings, and repeating this cycle for the duration of the whole crapfest is not my interpretation of a very entertaining game. What's interesting is that I just happened to read about this game on the Internet and found a guy that actually somewhat likes the game. I would love to have a chat with him, since 99,9% of the people I know share my opinion: it is one of the worst video games to be released commercially, ever.

Graphics : 3.0
Sound : 2.5
Playability : 2.4
Challenge : 2.5
Overall : 2.5

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