Thursday, 30 October 2014

100 More Gruesome Games (15 - 12) Freddy Vs. Jason

Yes, in today's selection of Gruesome Games I take a look at some video games based around two of horror cinemas greatest villians, a Mr. Freddy Krueger and a Mr. Jason Voorhees! Who will come out on top as the winner and have the best games? Read on to find out....

15 - A Nightmare On Elm Street (C64 / PC DOS) :

First up, we have a man who has probably helped keep the coffee industry booming since the 80s,  that devious dream -demon Freddy! This 1989 game from Monarch Software is based around Nightmare On Elm Street 3, and has you controlling the Dream Warriors from that film...

The first thing you'll need to do is find Krueger's house , and so you guide your little white stick figure character through the streets, looking for a house with all the lights on! Freddy is chasing you all the way, and if he catches you he'll drain your Soul Energy, which you need to survive! Once you find the house, you'll have a quick chat with Sister Mary Helena, and pop inside to rescue your friends....

 The game now changes to a top-down view of inside the house, and you'll get a better look at whatever character you picked at the start of the game. Each character has their own special dream power that they can use in the fight against Freddy! Kincaid has a power punch that can break through walls and Taryn can use her special knife throwing ability! These use up power though, and you'll need to use them sparingly...

Various items can be picked up like baseball bats and daggers to kill enemies with, coffee to keep you awake and coins with which to buy upgrades and stuff. Enemies trying to stop you from reaching your friends include skeletons, ghosts and even killer wheelchairs taken straight from the movie! There's also fire, slime and deadly spike traps to avoid, so you'll have your work cut out trying to reach pizza-face and put an end to his nasty nightmares...

Handily, the bar at the side of the screen lets you know what level the rest of your gang of warriors are currently residing on, so that makes it a lot easier to find them and insures you won't waste too much time hunting for them on every level and can just concentrate on trying to find the exit until you reach the area where they're at!

Obviously, the PC version looks a lot better than the C64 version, and runs a bit smoother too...but they both play more or less the same and have pretty much the exact same layout. I've tried to include similar screenshots from both games here, so you can see the differences for yourselves, and you'll see that the PC version also has some nice little extras like floorboards, little rugs with eyes on and actual slime on the ground on the slime levels (complete with smothered bodies) !

 These extra little touches make the PC version the one to go for, but the C64 version is far from awful, and I would have been happy to have owned it back in the day!  The C64 also has a nice little rendition of the Nightmare on Elm Street music on the title screen, so it gets bonus brownie points for that too! But yeah, both games use the licence to good effect and are pretty enjoyable adventures worth giving a go!

14 - A Nightmare On Elm Street (NES) :

Also using the third Nightmare On Elm Street as inspiration, LJN's game for the Nintendo Entertainment System has a similar plot, but plays quite a bit differently. In this you have to find Freddy's bones which have been scattered around the levels, take them to the furnace in the High School and burn them so Freddy is put to rest and can no longer threaten Elm Street's teenagers!

As one of these teens yourself, you'll find yourself on Elm Street outside various buildings, only one of which can be accessed from the start. Annoyingly, you have no idea which, so you'll have to fight your way past enemies such as snakes, bats and zombie-types and push up on the controller at every door until you find the one you can enter! 

Once inside you'll be faced with platforms to jump around until you reach a boss at the end of a level, who'll drop a key for another house, and you'll be dumped back outside, searching once more for the right door...which is the most annoying thing about the game really, but I suppose it adds some longevity.

What keeps the game interesting is the whole sleep mechanic..If your sleep bar falls too low by getting attacked, you'll enter the dream world and the various snakes, bats and spider enemies will become twisted skeleton or phantom variants of themselves! You'll need to collect coffee to try and keep yourself awake then, and if you do doze off there's a stereo that can be found to waken yourself up again!

Special dream power pick-ups can be collected, and this lets you switch to a special souped-up version of yourself and use abilities like Shadow Warrior (Ninja), Acrobat or Wizard. These aren't as impressive as they sound, but make for some amusing illustrations in the game's manual! 

Mr. Krueger will pop up for a ruck if you fall too deep into incident that's preceded by a scary "Freddy Is Coming!" message flashing up on the screen! You should see him off with a few hits though, as he's disappointingly non-scary once he appears. The boss versions are better at the end of the levels, with you facing off against Snake Head Freddy, Big Knifey-Glove Freddy and a few other incarnations!  (Names above are what I called the incarnations of Freddy...these are not official....obviously...)

Anyway, it's a fun enough little game, and should keep you entertained for at least a few goes on Halloween! And while you've got the NES out you can give this next game a bash too.....

13 - Friday The 13th (NES) :

At Camp Crystal Lake, six counselors are looking after the latest batch of kids who are their for the summer, and everyone's enjoying the peace and tranquility of the lake and its surrounding countryside. Unfortunately for them, one child who had a particularly bad experience at the camp a few years back has returned, all grown up and with an axe to grind!

For some reason, the place has also fallen prey to all manner of spooky nasties like zombies, angry wolves and crows! Must be something in the water! Anyway, you take control of the counselors and can switch between them as they try to stop Jason murdering all the children and/or other counselors!

The counselors have differing abilities, and the faster ones are better used as scouts to look for items.Others are better at crossing the lake in a boat. A couple of them seem to be completely useless, but I'll leave it up to you to discover which ones for yourselves...

Using a map, you can see where you are and at moments of danger an alarm will sound and you can check to see where you have to head in order to stop Jason hacking someone to pieces! Unfortunately if you enter the woods, the map becomes pretty useless and it's easy to get lost among the maze of paths and find yourself bombarded with enemies.

All you have to defend yourself at the start, y'see, is a bunch of rocks! Throwing these at enemies isn't always that successful as they travel in an arc and sometimes miss wolves completely. Thankfully, there are other weapons to be picked up such as knives that fly in a straight line and are much more effective.

If you manage to make it past the enemies to the area where someone is being attacked in time, you'll receive a rather premature "Thank you!" from whoever you saved, and then discover Jason lurking in the cabin right beside them! You'll then have to lob rocks, knives or whatever else you have at him whilst dodging his attacks and hoping he gets bored and leaves!

Once he does, he'll be gone for a little while and then he'll attack somewhere you'll need better something he's scared of to truly beat him! Apparently he's really scared off big, flaming torches, so if you light all the fireplaces in the cabins with lighters that the enemies drop, a flaming torch will eventually become will a flashlight that will help you see your way in the caves, which is a place I never found during my few games. Apparently the severed head of Jason's mum awaits you in there too, so I'll need to keep a look out when I go back to playing again...

When night falls, the enemies become a little tougher so watch out for that, but if you manage to fend them and  Jason off for 3 full days you'll win and everyone will be happy except for poor old hockey-head. Hurrah! 

Well, I went in to playing this having heard this was one of the worst games of all time, and having played it for at least 40 minutes I can say that I find that analysis totally wrong! Sure, it's by no means a great game..but it's not that bad! Once I worked out what I was meant to be doing I actually had quite a lot of fun trying to save everybody and I'll definitely be going back to play it again in the future and try to find Mrs. Voorhees severed head! 

So don't believe the naysayers...give it a go and see what you think yourself! Of course, maybe you'll hate it anyway, but that's half the fun of playing games you haven't played before! One man's Arkham Asylum is another man's Rise Of The Robots! You'll never know until you play 'em!

Oh, and one thing you can definitely thank the last two games for are these wonderful things...

Yes, NECA  have made action figures based on both the LJN games and they come in the same colours as the characters in game! They'll look great on your shelves and are a perfect Halloween gift either for yourself or a friend! Oh, and they also come in replica boxes based on the game ones too! 

12 - Friday the 13th (Spec / C64 / Amstrad):

A few years before the NES game, one appeared on the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 & Amstrad CPC computers. In this one, the main aim is to gather all your friends in safe spot that you've secured by placing a a huge cross in it!

Jason has disguised himself as one of your friends and won't show himself until he's ready to attack, at which point you'll have to confront him and use one of ten weapons that you've found lying around to bash him with!

Now this game is a lot worse than the NES version! well, the ZX Spectrum version is at least. It looks terrible, controls terribly and is just well...crap! The C64 at least has some spooky music, and when someone dies you'll hear a blood-curdling scream, which I imagine at least freaked out some kids back in the day! It controls a lot better too, and also looks far nicer....although for some reason Jason looks more like a random guy in black jeans and a black top than the knife wielding behemoth we're used to seeing on screen!

Apparently, the best version of the lot is the Amstrad version, but as I'm still struggling with trying to get an Amstrad emulator to work so I can sample its games, I've yet to play that one. So although the C64 might be fun for 5 minutes, I can't really recommend you play either, when there are so many more gruesome games to eat up your time....if I ever get round to the Amstrad version, I'll keep you posted!

So there we go! I think in this particular battle of the baddies, Freddy wins hands down! His games are a lot more fun than Jason's, but there's still room for someone to make a truly great game based on either series, as none of the games could be called amazing! 

Anyway, we've only a few hours left and then it's Halloween! And I've still to write about 11 games! Zoinks! Best join me tomorrow on this very blog to see if I manage it! ;-)

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