Sunday, October 12, 2014

Friday the 13th: The Computer Game - Pixelated Vorhees

Tonight, dear friends, I thought that I would try something a little different.  Besides being a cinephile and having a deep and profound love of horror films, you may have surmised (if you've been a longtime reader) that I am also a gamer.  One of my biggest passions besides horror, is retro-gaming.  Now, you may think that a strange thing to be talking about with Pre'Ween going on and all, but I'm here tonight to tell you about a game the scared the ever lovin' shit out of me when I was knee high to a ghoul.  
Say, that looks familiar!

Is it just me or does Amanda Baxter look deformed?

Help us Gerry!  You're our only hope!

That game is Friday the 13th:  The Computer Game.  Not to be confused with the terrible (yet still pop-culture-riffic Friday the 13th for the NES by LJN.  I know that the purple 8-Bit Jason has become something of a cash cow as of late.  As incredibly awesome as purple Jason and the NES are, I want to tell you about what came before.  

Picture it:  It's late at night, 1985 or '86.  A young me is sitting intently in front of the family Commodore 64.  I say it's the "Family" C64....but c'mon.....we all know that I ruled over that thing and was constantly on it playing video games.  I digress.  It's nighttime.  The rest of the family is in the living room watching The Facts of Life or something.  I'm sitting in the dark in the computer/dining room intently starting at the computer monitor.  The sound is turned up.  A digital scream shatters the silence and I jump half way to mars with a startled yelp.  Jason has slain another camp counselor.  

I've currently got the chainsaw (that's the thing that looks like a cross between a rocket ship and a key where it say WEAPON on the bottom........

Just taking a stroll through the cemetery....nothing to see here!

Friday the 13th:  The Computer Game was released in 1985 for the Commodore 64 and in 1986 ports for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC are released.  For those of you keeping track, that's a year (Or two years in the later case) after Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter hit theaters.  Speaking of which, that film is exactly where this game took it's box art and C64 loading screen from!  

The object of the game is simple.  Hunt down and kill Jason all the while keeping your friends safe and alive!  This, however is easier said than done because Jason has gone and disguised himself as one of the counselors.  The only time you see Jason's true form is when he is attacking someone or when he himself is being attacked.  Jason's true form is bound to piss off just about every person that plays the game.  No hockey mask.  No one-eyed potato sack.  Nope.  What you get is a dude with black hair wearing a black halter top and black pants!  Seriously!  WTF?

What the HELL????????

Slashing away at Jason with the machete.  Sadly I lost two camp counselors along the way.

Even more fucked up is the way in which you must hunt Jason down. which is by attacking your friends with one of ten weapons that are strewn around the semi-quasi-isometric game world.!  Wanna find Jason?  You best whack your buddy with a machete and give your best girl a slice with the chainsaw!  If they're normal kids, they'll kinda lean back (as folks are likely to do when assaulted with a deadly weapon) and then just keep on keepin' on.  Jason however will change into his black breakdance outfit and start to attack you.  At this point it's kill or be killed.

So for the most part, you will be walking around in a flick screen environment, which includes spooky woods, an archery range, farmland, a cemetery, a cabin, a church and even an old barn.  Each of the buildings can be entered as well, each having multiple rooms.  

The church oughta be a safe place, right?     RIGHT???

Hmmmm...decisions, I want the hatchet or machete.....

Something strange is going on in this cabin.....

The soundtrack is pretty decent for chiptune melodies.  The opening screen starts with Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor.  Once game play starts, the several different tracks are looped, including a generic chip tune, The Wedding March & Teddy Bear Picnic!  I'll tell you what....there is something a little unsettling about walking around whacking folks with an axe while listening to Teddy Bear Picnic.  Hell, one time I had an epic fight with Jason in front of the church while The Wedding March played.  Seriously weird stuff.  Speaking of sound design, one of the most effective bits occurs when Jason kills a counselor:  a digital scream emits from the computer while the image of skulls, or a guy getting a machete to the head flash across the screen.  I'll tell you what...for a little kid, that shit's terrifying!

Upon replaying the game for this review (via a C64 emulator), I've gotta still has the power to make me jump.  I'm once again sitting up alone in the dark.  The Mrs. went to bed hours ago.  It's just me and my laptop with my headphones on.  Damned if I didn't jump straight up every time Jason killed a counselor.  

First time Jason killed, this screen assaulted my retinas while more

What the hell?  They actually allowed stuff like this in video games back when I was young!  This image is forever burned into my brain.

So if you're looking for for good Halloween fun and the retro bug has been nipping at your heels, give Friday the 13th: The Computer Game a try.  Once you get in there and start hunting for Jason, you want want to stop!  As far as I know, this game has no actual just keeps looping for you to play with new counselors.  Still, don't let that sway ya.  If you've got a hankering for some of the pixelated red stuff, you can't go wrong with this little hack 'em up!

AH CRAP!  There's a dead body under that tree!  I must be getting close to Jason!

If a psychotic undead wraith kills you in the you still bleed?

My final showdown with Jason was (fittingly) in the graveyard!


  1. Wow, this is the Atari ET equivalent of horror games. That Jason looks like, well, Steven Segal. I said it!

    Good to see another Commodore 64 phile online. I spent many an hour on Bard's Tales 1-3 and Dan Dare. I miss my old Commodore 64 and its disk drive that I played Ghostbusters and Transformers on... Sigh. Nostalgia hurts right in the gut...

  2. Ha ha! I wish that this was as bad as horror games got back in the day, but the sad truth is that there are worse! I will be talking a look at more horror games very soon....including the ultra rare Atari 2600 game versions of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween! TCM is pretty abysmal!

    Back when I played this as a kid, it took me a hell of a long time to figure out that was Jason! You are 100% correct....he DOES look like Steven Segal!

    I'm a HUGE fan of the Commodore 64 and retro gaming as a whole. I remember quite well playing Bard's Tale....Forbidden Forest, The Movie Monster Game and of course Ghostbusters and Transformers!