Oh joy, I get to write about LJN again.
The last LJN game I discussed was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Game Boy Adventure, which was, of course, terrible. LJN seemed to get their grubby hands on nearly every franchise at the time, pumping out terrible game after terrible game at an astounding rate. And one such franchise was Nightmare on Elm Street.
Now, games based on horror movies were not unheard of. The Atari 2200 had the highly controversial Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Halloween, and a year prior to this game’s release, LJN published Friday the 13th, also on the NES. As I mentioned in my Fright Flicks article, the horror genre was practically marketed towards kids at this point… so naturally, LJN wanted a piece of the pie. And what a shitty piece of pie it was.
I’m sure I don’t need to explain the plot of A Nightmare on Elm Street to you, but here’s the gist of it: Freddy Krueger was a serial killer who was burned alive by the parents of his victims. He becomes a powerful spirit, able to stalk the dreams of the living, murdering them in particularly creative and gruesome ways. If that synopsis just doesn’t scream for a video game geared towards kids, I don’t know what does.
What we’ve got here is seemingly a simple side-scrolling platformer… a shitty one, sure, but at least it’s straightfoward, right? Well, just you wait.
You’ll notice four player slots up there. Yes, through the use of a multi-tap, you could enjoy the game with up to three of your friends. I can hardly imagine a more exciting and productive way to spend the weekend.
Basically, you just head right, fighting off enemies and avoiding hazards as you go. You’d think the nightmare theme of the series would give them plenty to work with, but you’re faced with some of the most stock enemies I’ve ever seen… snakes, bats, rats, zombies, all kinds of stupid shit. Also, at this point you’re still awake, so there’s really no reason for any of this to be happening in the first place.
Also, when you die, you turn into an angel and float away. Yep, that… that really fits the tone of the game, alright.
The bar on the upper left actually isn’t a health meter… rather, it’s a sleep meter. When it runs out, you fall asleep, and the enemies become more dangerous. Other than that however, the stage is essentially the same.
Eventually, the screen just stops scrolling. You can’t proceed. So what do you do? Well, turns out you need to enter one of the houses… the street is just a hubworld of sorts. Wonderful.
So after you finally figure out which house you’re supposed to go to, you enter the real first stage. So, it’s self-explanatory from here, right? Well, no. This isn’t your typical platformer… rather than just reaching the end of the stage, the goal here is to gather all of Freddy’s bones. Sort of like the plot to Nightmare on Elm Street 3, actually. Anyway, you need to gather all the bones in the stage before progressing, so make sure you don’t skip any.
This game sucks.
Once you gather all the bones and make it to the end of the stage, you encounter the first boss, which is a Freddy glove attached to some balls. The creativity is astounding. Once you beat it, you get a huge freakin’ key, which unlocks another house on the street.
Of course, the game does not tell you where you’re supposed to go, so you need to try every house until you find one that will let you enter… and none of them did. Seriously, I went back and forth across the stage twice, trying every door along the way, and none of them worked. I did discover that if you press select in the nightmare world, you could turn into a sort of “dream form” that let you jump higher and throw javelins instead of just punching. That’s great and all, but WHERE THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO GO
It took so long that I ended up apparently running out of time, as the music changed and I was soon greeted with this message:
Eventually, I found the correct door (one I had already attempted numerous times, mind you) and moved on to the second stage. It was more or less the same thing, and the boss at the end was a Freddy head this time, again attached to some balls. Sadly, I was no match for his floppy tongue things and was defeated. I can’t say I particularly cared.
It goes without saying, but this game is terrible. Is it worse than Bill & Ted? Hard to say. Perhaps if this had been more of an action platformer set in a terrifying dreamscape, it could have been cool. However, what we got is a crummy collect-a-thon with Freddy Krueger tacked into it. It’s not nearly as bad as the Friday the 13th game, but I’ll discuss that at another time.
Now, I would just end things here, but there’s one interesting thing about the game I’d like to point out.
One of the featured games is none other than A Nightmare on Elm Street, and if you actually stop to read it, you’ll notice something… odd. I mean, besides butchering Freddy’s name. It seems that originally, you were supposed to play as Freddy! The game described here is pretty much the exact opposite of what we got, and even the screenshot looks completely different (and better) than the final game, with a top-down perspective. So what the hell happened? Well, most likely, the game was changed to avoid controversy. I get the feeling that most parents wouldn’t be too keen on their kids playing as a serial killer. Still, it’s a shame. The original concept sounds considerably more interesting than what we got, and if done right it could even have been a pretty fun game!
Then again, this is LJN we’re talking about.