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Friday the 13th (1989)

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I'm sure you can help them sort it out, Dunban.
― Fiora, Xenoblade Chronicles
This article is about the NES game.
You may be looking for the 2017 game.
Friday the 13th (1989)
Friday the 13th box.jpg
Beat this crappy game... if you can!
Genre(s): Survival horror
Platform(s): Nintendo Entertainment System
Release: February 1989
Developer(s): Atlus
Publisher(s): LJN
Country: Japan
Series: Friday the 13th

"This game is fuckin' HORRIBLE!! "
The Angry Video Game Nerd

Friday the 13th is a video game developed by Atlus and published by LJN for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1989. It is based on the iconic horror film franchise of the same name. This game is considered by many to be one of the worst games of all time.


Camp counselors must protect the children and themselves from Jason Voorhees and his army of zombies, crows, wolves, fishmen and the severed head of his mother, Pamela Voorhees. The children and counselors must survive for three days or face Jason.


Players can choose between six counselors, each with different jumping skills and speed. By killing enemies you can make items appear such as potions, weapons, and a key to unlock Jason's mother's house.

Why It Sucks

  1. The map is a top-down 2D map which shows branching paths while the main mode of gameplay takes place on side-scrolling 2D zones, making the game world confusing to navigate. It also takes time getting used to the directions, as it first seems like the player is going in one direction only to turn out they are headed in the opposite.
    • The forest and cave areas especially are extremely difficult to navigate, due to little to no change in the areas and there is no indication to show which part you are in. The same can be said about the cabins, they're mapped out exactly the same between small and large varieties; only any items located inside are different.
  2. The balancing is terrible.
    • The counselors all have differing stats (rowing speed, jump height, strength, and running speed), the problem is that all except two of the six camp counselors have terrible stats save for one.
    • Jason is overpowered and shows up in what appears to be random intervals, however, it was found out by speedrunners that Jason actually has a route and you can catch up to him by accident. When facing Jason outside of the cabins, he moves lightning fast and throws weapons, making it extremely difficult to dodge his attacks and outrun him. It's even worse when rowing. If he appears in the lake, you can't avoid him period.
      • He's also too tall to jump over without pixel-perfect jumping.
  3. The way to make items appear isn't by killing enemies like in other NES game, but instead randomly appears while jumping.
  4. The default weapon, the rock, arcs over enemies. If you have these, it's important to duck before throwing unless one stands far away enough or up close to the target.
  5. Poor grasp of the source material. One of the things that Jason doesn't do is kill children, but in this game you have to protect as many children as you can from Jason or else he'll kill them.
  6. Repetitive and tedious gameplay. Most of your time will be spent trying to avoid as many enemies as possible while trying to figure out what to do and where to go. It doesn't help that you have to constantly stop what you're doing and haul to practically the other side of the map if Jason targets some of the children.
  7. The boss fights are terrible. You have to time your dodges just right to not get hit and you have a small window to actually attack. What's worse is that you have to beat Jason three times to win the game.
  8. Artificial Difficulty: Each counselor has only one life and if all counselors die, it's game over and you have to everything again.
  9. Aside from the cabin track, the soundtrack gets annoying quick since it loops after only a couple of seconds.
  10. One of the in-game hints tells you to light the fireplaces with the torch. You're actually supposed to light the fireplaces with the lighter in order to get the flashlight.
  11. The 3D indoor sections have terrible controls and you can easily get lost due to almost every part of each cabin looking the exact same.
  12. Broken and convoluted weapon progression system. The final weapon (the pitchfork) is weak against Jason, one weapon can be skipped entirely due to the method of unlocking the torch (Jason's weakness), unlocking the torch is hard to figure out (light every fireplace in the game and pick up a flashlight that will suddenly appear in the cabin) and you're likely to not even get the flashlight even if you do meet the conditions (due to a glitch it is possible to light a fireplace and have the game not realize you lit it, and the flashlight disappears if you don't immediately pick it up).
  13. The box art is way too colorful for horror game standards.
  14. Odd color choices like how Jason Voorhees is aqua blue and purple.
  15. Permanently Missable Content:
    • If you decide to skip fighting Pamela Voorhees on Day 2 then her sweater is unattainable.
    • The pitchfork, if you collect a weapon to override the pitchfork.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The hit detection for the player's weapons is otherwise decent.
  2. The music in the cabins is admittingly quite good and scary, fitting the horror genre.
  3. This game was actually quite revolutionary, as it was one of the first horror games. This game was released ten months before Sweet Home was released in December of the same year and definitely the first one that has you keeping track of multiple party members.


AVGN Enraged.jpg "What were they thinking?"
The Shit Scale
Games that are debatably bad High level of shit contamination The very high category The severe zone Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Major code red
This game/console belongs to the "Very High Category" category of the AVGN's Shit Scale.

Game Informer lists the game among the worst horror games of all time. Author Andy Slaven called it a horrible translation of the films. Michigan Daily's Matt Grandstaff called it a "poor offering" by LJN. GamePro listed it as the 10th worst video game based on a film, criticizing its "repetitive music score and amazingly frustrating gameplay".

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." 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".

IGN's Levi Buchanan used this game as an example of LJN's poor development abilities. 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.

The authors of Nintendo Power rated Friday the 13th as 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." Joystiq's James Ransom-Wiley noted it as a game that the staff "loved to hate." The Daily News of Los Angeles, however, noted it as a hit.

The Angry Video Game Nerd reviewed (and after defeating Jason himself after showing him sarcasm) personally declared this game to be terrible.


  • The game's Game Over screens became memes.
  • Jason's in-game appearance is available as a reskin for Part III Jason in Friday the 13th: The Game.
  • There is a neca action figure of Jason Voorhees in his NES-colored appearance along with the NES-colored Freddy Krueger.
  • Also there is a 8-bit funko pop of Jason Voorhees in his NES-colored appearance.



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