Friday the 13th (1989 video game)

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Friday the 13th
Friday the 13th NES.png
Composer(s)Hirohiko Takayama
  • NA: February 1989
Genre(s)Survival horror
Mode(s)Single player

Friday the 13th is a survival horror video game published by LJN and developed by Japanese video game developer Atlus for the Nintendo Entertainment System video game console. It is an adaptation of the Friday the 13th film series.

The game was panned by critics.


The game manual contains the following synopsis:

It's a pretty typical summer at Crystal Lake. There's a group of happy children staying in the Camp. You and your six Camp Counselor friends are watching over the kids while enjoying the lake and the wilderness. The days are bright and sunny. The nights are cool and clear. And Jason is on a rampage. It's up to you to stop him, but it's not going to be easy. You must first fight your way through forests filled with man-eating wolves, caves covered with blood sucking bats and hordes of mindless zombies everywhere you turn. You must also help any friend who is in danger, or else you can just kiss them goodbye. And hiding in a cabin or staying adrift in a canoe won't keep you safe – Jason will find you anywhere. The only way to survive this summer is to challenge Jason face to face, and destroy him.


Gameplay of Friday the 13th

Players control one of six camp counselors (each with varying levels of speed, rowing and jumping ability) in a side-scrolling perspective. The counselors start with an arcing rock attack. The goal is to find and defeat Jason Voorhees three times. Along the paths, players will find cabins, a lake, caves and wooded areas with all but the cabins having enemies such as zombies, crows, and wolves attacking the player. Players may upgrade their weapon upon finding a new one. A timed alarm appears at certain intervals, requiring players to find Jason before he kills one or more children or another counselor. Using the map, players must navigate their way to Jason's location or switch to the counselor being attacked and defeat him. If they do not make it there in time, Jason will kill the counselors or some of the children.[2]

Upon nearing Jason's location, Jason may appear on the path or in the lake and attack the player. When inside a cabin Jason will attack the player in a way reminiscent of the video game Punch-Out!!.[3] Players may light the fireplaces inside of larger cabins. Upon lighting all fireplaces, a flashlight and torch weapon are available. Notes are found in some larger cabins leading the player to other notes in other locations, eventually leading to new items. The objective of the game is to survive for three days and three nights while attempting to find and kill Jason. Players may battle Jason's mother who is in a hidden locked room in the cave. She is represented as a Medusa-like floating head that swoops down to attack the player. Navigating in the woods or cave can be confusing as they are set up to purposely disorient the player. They hide several locked rooms/cabins. If all counselors or children die, the game is over.[2]


Friday the 13th was developed and published by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System video game console. It was released in February 1989.[4] Its music and sound effects were designed by Hirohiko Takayama.[4] It is an adaptation of the film franchise of the same name. It was developed as part of an "aggressive expansion" by LJN to focus on video games based on media licenses.[5]


Friday the 13th was released in North America exclusively in February 1989, as part of LJN's focus on creating video games based on licenses. It is considered by some as one of the worst games of all time. Game Informer lists the game among the most difficult horror games of all time.[6] Michigan Daily's Matt Grandstaff called it a "poor offering" by LJN.[7] GamePro listed it as the 10th worst video game based on a film, criticizing its "repetitive music score and amazingly frustrating gameplay".[3] In 1997 Electronic Gaming Monthly ranked it the eighth worst console video game of all time.[8] GamesRadar's Mikel Reparaz criticized its box, commenting that only LJN "would ever think to surround Jason Voorhees with neon-pastel vomit, thereby making him even more of an ‘80s relic than he already is."[9] Writer Christopher Grant commented that the game was more terrible than the deaths of the campers in the first Friday the 13th film, calling it "craptacular".[10] IGN's Levi Buchanan used this game as an example of LJN's poor development abilities.[11] The book Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of All Time criticizes it for not being frightening, citing technical reasons for this.[12] The authors of Nintendo Power rated Friday the 13th the sixth worst game ever made in the magazine's September 1997 issue. The writer stated "After playing a few minutes of this aardvark, you wanted Jason to slaughter all the counselors and then you. Anything so it would just end."[13] Joystiq's James Ransom-Wiley noted it as a game that the staff "loved to hate."[14] The Daily News of Los Angeles, however, noted it as a hit.[15]


In June 2013, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association released an exclusive figurine of the video game-style Jason with the turquoise and purple color palette to go along with their other Nintendo-esque horror figure, a video game-style Freddy Krueger based on LJN's A Nightmare on Elm Street game.[16][17]

In 2017, after developer IllFonic released Friday the 13th: The Game, a "Retro Jason" skin based on Jason from the 1989 game was added by developers in a video game patch to apologise to fans for issues the game experienced when initially released.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Atlus". GDRI. Retrieved 2015-08-16.
  2. ^ a b Friday the 13th (instruction booklet). LJN Toys Ltd. February 1989. NES-F3-USA.
  3. ^ a b Smithee, Alan (2004-07-02). "10 to 1: The Worst Movie Games Ever, Feature Story from". GamePro. Archived from the original on 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  4. ^ a b "Friday the 13th Release Information for NES". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  5. ^ Steinbock, Dan (1995). Triumph and erosion in the American media and entertainment industries (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Quorum Books. ISBN 9780899309149.
  6. ^ "The Wrong Kind of Scary: Worst Horror Games Ever". Game Informer. GameStop (186): 120. October 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  7. ^ Grandstaff, Matt (2001-11-27). "Videogames, movies make formidable mix with Gamecubes Rogue Leader". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  8. ^ "The Top 10 Worst Games of All Time". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 100. Ziff Davis. November 1997. p. 107. Note: Contrary to the title, the intro to the article explicitly states that the list covers console video games only, meaning PC games and arcade games were not eligible.
  9. ^ Reparaz, Mikel (2009-05-07). "Totally '80s box art! (page 2)". GamesRadar. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  10. ^ Grant, Christopher (2007-04-13). "Happy Friday the 13th! Destroy Jason ... if you can!". Joystiq. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  11. ^ Buchanan, Levi (2010-04-30). "An NES Nightmare on Elm Street – NES Feature at IGN". IGN. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  12. ^ Loguidice, Bill; Barton, Matt (2009). Vintage games: an insider look at ... – Google Books. ISBN 9780240811468. Retrieved 2010-10-18.
  13. ^ "Along With the Best Comest the...10 Worst Games of All Time". Nintendo Power. Nintendo (100): 97. September 1997.
  14. ^ James Ransom-Wiley. "NES spoof: Friday the 13th Part Deux".
  15. ^ "VIDEO GAMES TOY WITH BLOCKBUSTERS". Los Angeles Daily News. MediaNews Group. July 1, 1990. Retrieved 2012-03-26.
  16. ^ "SDCC Exclusive: Video Game Jason Voorhees Action Figure Coming to Comic-Con!". Neca Online. June 6, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  17. ^ "NECA's 8-Bit Freddy Krueger Based On the 1989 NES Game!!!". Bloody Disgusting. August 7, 2013. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  18. ^ "Friday the 13th developers say 'sorry' with a new update and free stuff for everyone". PC Gamer. June 19, 2017. Retrieved June 21, 2017.