Friday the 13th was a surprisingly decent console game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. This LJN title came out in 1998 and was based on the Friday the 13th series of movies. The game is largely a side scroller but also features some scenes that use a first person viewpoint.

This game is not based on any one particular movie in the series, instead it sort of jams bits and pieces from all the movies that centered on Camp Crystal Lake. Other than all the zombies (I will get to those later), this game is closer to people's residual memories of the movies than any of the actual movies are. Jason (with hockey mask) is definitely the villian (although his mother is present as well), you have your standard assortment of camp counselors, and you even have children (who are actually absent in most of the films)

The basics of the game is that you control the six camp counselors in their attempt to fight off Jason and keep him from slaughtering everyone in the camp. You can switch from counselor to counselor from the map screen, which is something you will have to do a lot, since the map is rather large and Jason loves to sneak up and start hacking on the other counselors, or the children. Speaking of the children, for reasons unknown they all hang out in a cabin that can only be reached by rowing across the lake, and it is impossible to leave any counselors there to guard them, you just have to wait until Jason starts menacing them and then row out to try to rescue them.

The counselor characters in the game are drawn from parts 2,3,4 and 5 of the movie series, except for Laura, who had not existed in the Jason world before this game (but later became a character in the comic book series). The various characters are all supposed to have their own strengths and weaknesses, but it really ends up being a case of a few characters being awesome and the rest being worthless. When I play I mostly just do everything with Crissy and Mark.

Crissy is easily the best character in the game, she jumps really high, runs really fast and is no slouch in operating that rowboat. She should be your first choice for most operations.

Debbie is almost completely worthless. Station her near the children and just use her to row out to the lake to save their bacon as she has a decent rowing speed.

Laura is average in running and jumping speeds, but can't row for anything.

George is simply the worst character in the game, he isn't good at anything at all.

Mark is a lot like Crissy in that he is fast and can jump really high. He should be your main counselor if Crissy dies.

Paul seems to have the exact same capabilities as Laura.

Now that you know who the counselors are you might want to know what they are supposed to do? Generally they spend most of their time wandering around the map trying to upgrade their weapons and avoid the hundreds of unexplained zombies that are wandering all over the map. Of course these upgrade missions are constantly interrupted by emergency beeps indicating that Jason has someone cornered in a cabin somewhere.

Jason has a life meter that continues from one encounter to the next, and he will generally run off after you hit him 7 times with something. Once his meter gets rather low he will stay around and fight to the death, which can be really deadly if that fight happens to occur outside a cabin while you are using one of the cruddier counselors. Most of the time you fight him inside the cabins, which is fairly easy at first since he has predictable movements.

If you are going to kill Jason then you are probably going to want to venture into the cave where the flying severed head of his dead mother "lives". I have always found her to actually be a lot more difficult to fight than Jason himself, as she is a lot less predictable and harder to evade, but she leaves behind equipment that makes fighting Jason a lot easier.

After you kill Jason all your surviving counselors get their health back and the sun briefly rises, but it soon sets and Jason is back even stronger than before. All total you have to kill him three times to beat the game, and he is much harder the second and third times.

The reason this game is worth playing is because it is a much deeper game than it seems to be on the surface. If you just jump in and start playing then Jason will quickly kill off everyone off and the game will be over. However once you learn how to play it you will find that it is a lot more complex than it seems. When I was a kid this game would frustrate me because I never bothered to read the instruction manual, and thus never learned how to gather the tools needed to defeat Jason. Almost twenty years later I actually bothered to read the directions, and now the game is a blast.