Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Friday the 13th

So, you were looking for that yellow notebook-papery graphic? Sorry, I was feeling a little lazy this time, so I'll just treat you to a shot of the title screen, instead. Ta-da!

I first played Friday the 13th as a kid. It was part of a box of NES games given to us by a neighbor, a box full of goodies like this game, Astyanax, Spy Hunter, and a bunch of other games. It was a good mix of classics and, well, games like Astyanax, Spy Hunter, and Friday the 13th.

This was, to my un-Game Genie'd NES system, an impossible game. You start out as one of six camp counselors, marching around camp in a fluorescent pink T-shirt and shorts combo, trying to light fireplaces and keep your fellow counselors and the young campers from falling under the mad machete skills of Jason Voorhees. (He also appears with a hatchet, but "mad hatchet" is a better name for a band than an actual description of what was going on in the game.)

So you pick a counselor to play as (you can switch off when you find the other counselors in their cabins) and stalk about the camp. As you are stalking about, zombies somehow ascend from the dirt of the path and wander aimlessly in your direction. Until a knife appears suspended in mid-air, your only weapon is rocks.

Oh, yeah. Stuff you need just appears suspended in mid-air. Healing salves, weapons, lighters, keys...these things have no sense of gravity. And to obtain them, you have to jump into them. Despite being at eye level, it just wasn't good enough for the makers of this game to have you walk right into the object to get them. And virtually all weapons turn into projectiles, no matter how little sense that makes. (More on this later.)

Okay, back to what's at hand. As you're walking around, making good on the instruction to light all the fireplaces with the lighter that magically appeared in mid-air, you'll hear this horrible beeping noise. At the top of the screen, there's an indication as to who is up on Jason's cutting board: a counselor or a cabin of child campers.

Now, as long as you're controlling one of the counselors, it doesn't really matter if Jason picks them off, as long as one is still alive by the end of the game. However, if you don't move fast enough to save the children and fight off Jason, who is lurking about in the cabin, this is what happens:

That's it. Jason wiped out the kids. Game over.

So, after finding a Game Genie code for infinite kids (the total never goes down from 15), I was able to finish the game.

It's odd, the effect those cheat codes have on you as you're playing. I ended up chasing after Jason just to finish the game. Every encounter in a cabin was a step closer to victory! But when I was too far away from the cabins on the lake, and the alarm started beeping that Jason was slaughtering 8-bit children left and right, I just shrugged and kept stalking the camp.

Two of the more frustrating features of the game: The woods and the cave.

The woods...I don't even know what to say. This is where I first stopped caring about getting to the kids' cabins, because I couldn't get out of the goddamn woods. Basically, if you don't pick the right ups and downs, you're going to be wandering in the woods forever, chased by zombies who come out of the dirt and wolves that make really annoying computerized howling noises.

Now, the cave...When I was playing this game as a kid, I was wandering about the cave and came across this frightening creature:

That, my friends, is a purple floating head that looks like all the world to be Medusa.

Now, what would a figure from Greek mythology be doing in a game based on a popular series of slasher films, you might ask?

The answer is...NOTHING!

See, I was just as mystified as you are, even as a 12-year-old who hadn't seen the movies. But, after looking up a couple things about this game on the Internet, I discovered that this is supposed to be Jason's dear old mother. A floating monster head that lives in a cave.

And what do you get for defeating her?

Got a good look at that?

Know what it is? If you don't, look a little longer, I'll wait.

It's a sweater, folks. Bright pink and orange. You slay the Medusa, like Perseus in Clash of the Titans, and instead of a neat corpse head that you can use to turn your enemies to stone, you get a fucking sweater.

And what happens when you take the sweater? Your little counselor dude flashes fluorescent pink and green, and your eyes try to crawl into your head to get away from the seizure-inducing flashing that makes no logical sense.

So, after that, you stalk around again, kill Jason, and this is what happens:

Turns out you have kill Jason a grand total of three times, and you have to kill his Medusa mom a second time. The second time around, though, she gives you something much more useful: a pitchfork, which you can apparently throw like any other projectile weapon, because human-length pitchforks are that easy to chuck around.

The second and third times around the camp are exactly like the first time around. Walk around, save coworkers/campers, throw shit at Jason.

And so, after an evening spent playing this game instead of having post-work bonding time with my husband, this was my reward for defeating eight-bit Jason Voorhees:

That, my friends, is an image of our main villain, a crazy machete-wielding axe murderer, sitting on the floor in purple pajamas looking depressed. And, you see, no mention of the crazy monster mom! Is she dead? Is she alive? Is she mating furiously, trying to create another slasher movie monster? We don't know!

...Wait, now that my mind is on it, what would that thing mate with? That weird goat-looking bad guy from Clash of the Titans? Grendel? The host of the newest political commentary show? Who know what horrors would lay with that beast??

This was my reward, friends. A crappy end screen and disturbing thoughts about the creation of eight-bit monsters.