Another Friday the 13th weekend has come and gone. For a lot of people, this is a good excuse to pop in a Jason flick and watch the hockey-masked killer rampage around Camp Crystal Lake. For gamers, it’s an opportunity to reminisce about one of the worst games ever made for the NES; Friday the 13th by LJN. There’s plenty of complaints to be made from the dull graphics to the repetitive music. Over the years this game has earned a reputation for being brutally difficult. If you watched Game Informers’ Replay segment this weekend, you no doubt saw four grown men felled by the merciless Jason. But I’m here to say that the difficulty of this game is a myth.
Here’s how I play Friday the 13th. First, of the six camp counselors you can choose from, pick Mark. He’s the fastest and can jump the highest. His agility makes it easy to jump over the roving zombies and other enemies. Most of the time, I just ignore them rather than fight them off. If you bother to explore the caves, Mark is an absolute must. The other camp counselors can’t jump high enough to make it from platform to platform. And if you run into Jason out in the open, you’re going to need Mark to jump when he charges you.
Mark is your go-to guy.
If Jason is attacking someone clear across the lake, and you don’t have the time to run there, just jump into the nearest cabin. From there you can take control of the other counselors regardless of location. Inside the cabins, everyone moves at the same speed, so using Mark exclusively isn’t necessary here. Now here’s the important part; when you’re fighting Jason in the cabins, it is absolutely vital that you dodge diagonally when he attacks. Running back and forth is pointless, because he will catch you. All it takes is about four good hits and Jason can kill one of your campers. But if you dodge, and then quickly counterstrike, you can beat him without ever taking a single hit. And that's all there is to it. It really is that easy! Jason's pattern never changes. He just speeds up a bit in later rounds, so this technique works all through the game.
Dodge and then strike back!
Friday the 13th is a bad game no matter how you look at it. Even when you master dodging and start winning with ease, the game just plods along at a sluggish pace. Beating Jason (and the game) becomes less of a nail-biting experience, and more of an inevitability so long as you’re willing to stick with it for the many, many run-ins with Jason. But for all the things this game is guilty of, jacking up the difficulty isn’t one of them.
Of course, there's no way to avoid this cheap shot.