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Retro Replay: Friday the 13th – The Video Game

Retro Replay is back for one more stab to celebrate the only vintage video game worth talking about on this particular day of the year – Friday the 13th!

With an ever-growing body count and a string of slashing sequels it was only fateful that Friday the 13th would get a video game released in its name. The year was 1989, hockey masked maniac Jason Voorhees was preparing to take Manhattan in his eighth movie appearance and Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was the most high-tech dedicated gaming console available.


The Friday the 13th video game arrived on 8-bit cartridge and was one of the earliest ‘survival horror’ games. It was a single player game that followed the same formula as the film series, this meant throwing a group of hapless teenager campers at the mercy of the rampaging (and uncharacteristically neon-clad) serial killer Jason through various stages of the infamous Camp Crystal Lake and its treacherous surrounding woodlands.

Rather than try to run away and hide – or scream out loud and trip over – which is the horror movie cliché, in this game players are encouraged to explore the camp cabins to find and face up to the killer, outwitting and lobbing rocks at him while also trying to rescue friends in peril, row a boat and fend off other threats in the wilderness. These threats include wolves, bats and zombies, which unless you consider Jason one of the walking dead, did not appear at any point in the film series!

The game was published by US-based company LJN Toys Ltd. and developed in Japan by Pack-in-Video which also developed licensed games based on Die Hard and Predator. The 8-bit graphics were accompanied by a spooky soundtrack and effects provided by Japanese composer and sound designer Hirohiko Takayama which capture perfectly the creepy tones of Camp Crystal Lake.

Jason Voorhees would never officially be resurrected in video game form after 1989 but the cult status of the Friday the 13th game lives on to this day and the fan love for this version of the character inspired action figure maker NECA to create a likeness based on his strange neon appearance as a San Diego Comic-con exclusive.

Publisher LJN would go on to follow up Friday the 13th with another game based on a leading fright franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street, which was released later the same year.

(*at time of typing the date was Friday the 13th, unfortunately our blog was out of service for maintenance but we hope you still enjoyed the article!)

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