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Friday the 13th part 10,219: Jason Goes to Crap

posted by B on 8/22/01

Freaking young people and their nostalgia. Time for a knifin'.

The superstitious coupling of Friday the 13th with calamity is very old in western culture. The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations dating from ancient folklore; their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. Folklorists say it's probably the most widespread superstition in America (and no doubt other parts of the world, as well). Some people won't go to work on Friday the 13th. Some won't eat in restaurants. Many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date. Many wouldn't do drugs on the 13th for fear of stumbling around in front of cows and looking like a big doofus.

How many people at the turn of the millennium still suffer from this phobia?  According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a therapist specializing in alliteration and the treatment of phobias who is credited with coining the term "paraskevidekatriaphobia" (persons with an abnormal fear of Friday the 13th), as many as 21 million do in the United States alone. If that's correct, something like eight percent of Americans are still in the grips of a very ancient superstition. This rivals other scientific stats like the saying "almost eleven percent of Americans have delthefunkyhomosapiophobia, which is the fear of dorky guys in lab coats creating big words so they can have enough money to jerk off on the tits of strangers in the back of their new PT Cruiser."

Exactly how ancient the phenomenon is is difficult to say, because determining the origins of superstitions is an imprecise science at best. In fact, it's mostly guesswork. But if I was to make a hypothesis (from the Greek words "hypo," meaning "over-stimulated," and "thesis," meaning "half-assed pop culture cross referencing") I would say that the fear of Friday the 13th began in 1988, when "Friday the 13th" for our old grey and black Nintendo Entertainment System was released. It didn't have the rhythmic pounding of buttons associated with Super Mario Bros. nor the PA-KANG PA-KANG PA-KANG of Duck Hunt, but it did have ONE element that no game of it's time could compare with: It was frustrating in a way reserved previously for religious experiences.

Let me rephrase that. Imagine that you're naked and tied to one of those giant sticky leather arm chairs and you can't move, not even if a tarantula was crawling on your nuts. Now imagine that Shannon Elizabeth, Anna Kournikova, and that chick from Species are all dressed like French Maids and eating bananas out of each others crotches like two feet in front of you. The NES version of Friday the 13th is that kind of frustration, expressed more accurately as the inescapable murder of children. Although by the end of this sentence I'm sure I will have reconsidered my analogy, seeing how any witness of a Nadia/Anna K banana crotchfest is much more important and life-altering than your kids being murdered.

= ?


You would think the plot of a Friday the 13th game would be both brilliant and groin pull-inducingly entertaining. Imagine the joy of sneaking up on some unsuspecting minority and squeezing his head until his eyeballs popped out, like in Friday the 13th Part 3! It'd be just like a video game about my childhood growing up in Danville, Virginia, only I paid to see it in 3D instead of having to watch it go down in my front yard in the middle of the night. Unfortunately this video game avoids any kind of fun premise and goes straight for the anguished feeling you see when someone is getting the shit beaten out of them in the parking lot.

An ominous day of the week!!11

I can imagine what it would've been like to get a copy of Friday the 13th for your eighth birthday. It's that time of life when staying up past your bedtime watching Hellraiser or Re-Animator and laughing your ass off in front of your friends, and then when it's time to go to bed getting all freaked out in a dark bathroom and tumbling down the stairs in terror. When you have a game with the promise of a high body count via machete that's a really important moment in your life, none of that "jump on the turtles" bullcorn. You pop the game in thinking "rock, I'm gonna go dice up some sexy teenagers" but instead you get this, a game where you run for a few seconds and then everything kills you and you die. It's almost like that Waterworld game Milhouse plays on the Simpsons, where he puts in forty dollars in quarters in the machine, so the guy takes a step and it says game over. The aforementioned frustration begins from the first moment, when your smiles turn to scowls and you grope desperately for the instruction book to find out what the BLUE HELL is going on.

Blue Hell - Artists Rendering

For anyone who isn't a fan of the genre and hasn't seen any of the Friday movies, they involve Ice Cube and a variety of colorful, drug-addled supporting characters perpetrating some offbeat shenanigans in a plethora of films including "Friday," "Next Friday," "Friday After Next," and "I Know What You Did Last Friday." The Friday the 13th movies are a completely different story. They revolve around Camp Crystal Lake (or CAMP BLOOD to the natives), a place where tragedies happen and people are murdered under suspicious circumstances. It's a lot like your local high school, actually, only without those band kids getting on your nerves. If the band got up the nerve to play "Rock and Roll Part 2" like they ALWAYS do no matter WHERE you go at Camp Crystal Lake they'd all get pitchforked through the neck and stuck to the band rafters. Daaaaaaaaaaadunnananunnananuh HEY! *splorch*

So, in true horror movie fashion, some new guys with flippy 80's hair and a vision decide to set up shop on the most dangerous place possible, in the hopes that a consistent record of death and destruction will abide by the courtesy of their new business endeavor. Somehow their theory doesn't stick and everyone ends up catching a machete to the face for about 10 movies now. Again, this could've been a great idea for a video game, but since the elder Gods in charge of greenlighting videogames prefer a hedgehog running briskly to any nominal violence, we got a really ass-ified version of the story. What could Nintendo replace the violent deaths of the oversexed teenagers of the film series with?

Fight, camp counselors! FOR THE CHILDREN!

Why, killing children, of course! Although not nearly as offensive as French Maid Nude Celebrity Vaginal Banana porn, the prevention of adolescent death syndrome (being killed by Jason) is the game's modus operandi. Instead of controlling Jason himself and murdering the children (which would've been a pretty damn cool game for perverts and Pro-Choicers alike) you're forced to operate the inept bodies of Camp Blood's six most physically challenged teenage counselors. Although released in 1988, the battle system is one of the most advanced in game history, surpassing later games like Tekken and Soul Calibur with daring attacks like "run," "jump," and "throw rock."

You'd think a bunch of teenagers at summer camp would've brought alone a switchblade or a 9 mm or something like NORMAL teenagers. I guess this WAS the 80's. They could've brought their cigarette boats and hot cars. That would've been a game I do NOT wanna miss. But nope, you start off with rocks that usually fly in a really high arc and go over the target's head. Now trying to stop a crazed zombie killing machine from killing a bunch of kids is hard enough when you've got nothing else to do at the time but hurl rocks at his skull, but that's where the difficulty of the game rears it's burned, deformed head.

"Mark" shows unrivaled bravery by dashing off like a wiener into the woods. Also, zombie gorilla.

The player controls Crystal Lake's Sinister Six, three boys and three girls with names like "Paul" and "Mike." Really SISSY ass names. I bet when they signed up to boss the little kids around and steal the cookies the kids' moms sent them in the mail they weren't expecting zombie gorillas to randomly come out of the ground while they're running around. In all seriousness that's what the game involves -- you picking the closest camp counselor to your objective and running like Hell in the hopes that you'll get there before you hear the ominous BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP BEEEP. When you hear that, that means Jason has begun assaulting the youngsters. Not just any youngsters though...the youngsters in the cabin as far away from you as possible. So you've gotta haul ass back the other way and hope you get to fight him off before all the little Harry Potter loving bastards get theirs.

Getting to the kids before they die is the most frustrating part. The aforementioned zombie gorillas (I don't know what they're supposed to be, look at them and tell me yourself) will pop up in serious numbers wherever you go. Your best bet is to just jump over them, until there are like three on the screen and you jump into them and die. Not to mention that if you take a wrong turn you're screwed...the digital camp includes a giant forest to get completely lost in while Jason kills all the babies, a series of caves to get completely lost in while Jason kills all the babies, and a big lake (duh) in which Jason can pop out of the water and kill you instantly before going back to killing the babies. You actually WANNA go into the forest and the caves and places though because that's where all the good items are. Once you find the pitchfork (the most powerful weapon) and Jason's Mom's head (which keeps Jason from attacking you) the game becomes "Mario is Missing" and you can't possibly lose. But the moment the CPU senses that you want to utilize the game as any kind of entertainment the beep starts up and the first player controller goes flying across the room and into the television.

"Dylan, you gotta stay off the booze, bro. Wanna play basketball, bro?"

Beating Jason (last name Vorhees, like Lisa from Saved by the Bell) would be simple if he would just jump up in the air, so you could run under him, grab the axe and make him fall into the lava. Unfortunately he's been savagely murdered enough times to be wise to your tricks, so he manipulates you into the various childcare cabins. These cabins are reminiscent of other games like "Rescue: The Embassy Mission" and "Goonies II"...those pseudo-3D mazes where you have to turn in a direction and then look forward. So by the time you've stumbled upon his whereabouts he's chopped your head into loose meat and you've lost a counselor. Thankfully you've got six of them, so you get to see all of the children die before it's game over.

Fighting for children, wherever there's trouble over LAND and SEA and AIIIIIIIIR!

I'm proud to say I actually beat the game, which was no small feat. It was one of those things where you sit up with bloodshot eyes while M. Bison repeatedly whips your ass cause you've got the stars all the way up and you're trying to beat it without losing a round, so you can get the extra 2 seconds of ending. I played the game off and on for eight years trying to beat it, until finally, in the Spring of 96, Jason fell to my poorly animated camp counselor wrath. Shortly after my Nintendo stopped working forever. I feel good knowing that it waited until I beat the game. Now Friday the 13th is in the same old game drawer with the "Three Stooges," "Ghostbusters," and "Knight Rider"...precious childhood memories neatly crushed in a grey plastic cartridge.


Graphics: The graphics are pretty well done for a late 80's game, when the most groundbreaking things were the big bosses in Blaster Master and you were lucky to get a sprite introduction with all those humorously misspelled words in them. Jason is GIANT on the screen most times, in a really nifty purple jumpsuit and a blue tinted hockey mask. I won't say he's the most intimidating character in gaming history, but he made this impressionable 8 year old create some custom curse words when I was rowing across the lake and he popped up outta the water. Friday the 13th was the first time I ever got grounded for profanity. Stupid fucking game. God dammit.

Sound: It's the same four songs played on loop while you run, until the Jason alarm starts. None of the trademark Jason "I'm hiding in the bushes getting ready to impale you with a spear" taunts. No screams from the children. I guess you can only go so far in a game about homicide. After all, this is the same organization that gave us green blood in Mortal Kombat, so it looked like Johnny Cage was uppercutting all the boogers outta Sub Zero's nose.

Replay Factor: None by your own choice. You'll either put it down 10 seconds into it or keep playing until your brain melts and drains out of your ears. It's like getting head from a really ugly know it's wrong, you know you really oughta not be doing it, but it sure as hell feels fantastic. Once you go crap you never go back.

Overall: Overall this is the biggest missed opportunity since that "Nightmare on Elm Street" game where you could be a wizard and a ninja and you had retarded boss battles with various Freddy body parts, like his hand or his inner leg. This game should've included a fully controllable Jason and a camp full of social deviants, like sassy guys in T-shirts with numbers on them (like that was ever cool) and people randomly having sex in normal places where people have sex, like in abandoned shacks in the middle of the woods or in stalled cars.

And now to finish off this review, I will debut my NEW and EXCITING and original way to rate games and the like. Instead of rating it on a "scale," which is for pussies who eat the pussy of other pussies, I will tell you a similarly theme game you've probably played (if you're a dork) that is WORSE than the reviewed game, and the game that is BETTER than the reviewed game on my scientifically sound scale of excellence. For example, as far as movie-themed Nintendo games go, Friday the 13th is better than:

Hudson Hawk

But is not quite as good as:


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