Are you ready for Freddy? Are you ready for him on your NES? If you’ve been on the internet for a while, your answer is probably “no, get it away from me, kill it with fire, LJN games all smell, EWWWWWWWW!”
This is the wrong response. But that’s ok. Like many, I had presumed that this game was trash, because its reputation precedes it, and while I spent quite a bit of time with Friday the 13th on the NES when I was a lad (that game’s reputation is completely deserved), I don’t ever recall even seeing this one in a store or my local rental place. Then I heard so much about it as an adult, so I never bothered. Until now.
Maybe it’s just a matter of adjusted expectations, but I didn’t hate this game. Not even kind of. I thought it was totally fine. I mean, middling, but hardly the kind of trash you would expect from the vitriol poured upon it by denizens of the internet. And I’m not one of the numbskulls who takes James Rolfe at his word while he’s in character (PROTIP: James Rolfe is a filmmaker who makes short comedies, take that into account before you accept his word as gospel on a videogame). Still, this is among the most reviled games on the internet. Practically everyone who expresses an opinion on this game expresses a negative one.
From what I can tell, the most horrible thing about it is that you don’t have a lifebar, so you have no idea when you’re about to die. Other than that, it’s totally fine. I mean, it’s not Castlevania III or anything. Hell, it’s not even Power Blade, but it’s a far cry from a Color Dreams game or even most other LJN games.
Yeah, it’s a pretty significant design flaw that it’s more fun to be in the Dream World, because that’s where all the cool power-ups are, but you can get around that by just letting your character fall asleep. And, yeah, the bosses are pretty boring. But it’s competent. The platforming is fine. The combat works, because the collision detection is good. Furthermore, it’s one of only three four player action games on the NES. And of those, it’s the only sidescroller (the other two four player action games are Gauntlet II and Bomberman II).
So, yeah, it’s kind of flawed, but it’s fine. I mean, it was developed by Rare, and while you can see the seeds of their latter-day collect-a-thon design (the main action of the game is collecting Freddy’s bones), the collectibles are easy to see and find. Also, the David Wise soundtrack is full of jams. Full. Of. Jams.
Beyond that, for a movie-based NES game, it actually does a surprisingly good job of following the film. Well, the film it was based on. Despite its name, the game is actually based on A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3: The Dream Warriors, and the power-ups you find in the Dream World connect with that movie pretty well. I mean, again, it’s not following the movie like modern games do, but for the era? It’s on point.
In the end, what I’m saying is that this is one unfairly hated game, and if you’ve never played it, consider giving it a whirl. It’s not very long, and if you’ve got three friends and a Four Score, it’s bound to be a spooky good time.
- Released: October 1990
- System: NES
- Developer: Rare
- Publisher: LJN