How I would Improve the Friday the 13th Game

The Friday the 13th series doesn’t have much life these days, at least so far as the cinema is concerned. It has nine years since the Friday the 13th remake tried and failed to breathe life back into hockey mask-wearing slasher Jason Voorhees. If it weren’t for the 2017 video game (aptly named Friday the 13th: The Game), the franchise would be all but dead.

Oh but what a game it is. If you’ve only ever played the 1989 indecipherable mess that was the Nintendo Friday the 13th, you may have written off the series’ gaming potential. Which would be a shame since developer IllFonic and publisher Gun Media have created a fan love letter to the series, complete with meticulously recreated campground levels.

When I first started playing Friday the 13th: the Game over Christmas vacation, I thought it was fun but frustrating. Months later and I’m still routinely diving into Crystal Lake, the Jarvis House and newly added Pinehurst. Clearly they’re doing something right.

That said, I do have some thoughts on how Friday the 13th: the Game can improve and, maybe more importantly, how these companies can keep financing their efforts. I know: Unsolicited feedback from a white guy – how original.

Being able to turn the male counselors into mock kid Jason

One of the most interesting aspects of gameplay in Friday the 13th: the Game revolves around killing Jason. Yes, it is possible (if unlikely) for the counselors to band together and turn the tables on their foe. This method is a multi-step process that involves summoning Tommy Jarvis, stealing a sweater, and knocking off a mask.

It is the second part where the potential issue begins: Only a female counselor can steal the sweater. This is to recreate the ending of Part 2 where the final girl pretends to be Jason’s mother, halting the killer in his tracks. It’s a cool bit of fan service to be sure and – as I said – really interesting gameplay.

Yet if there are no female counselors in the game, or if they have died, it prematurely closes the option to kill Jason. This is kinda lame. Rather than have Chad discover his feminine side, I believe I’ve come up with a solution that stays close to franchise emulation.

While only female counselors can steal the sweater, male counselors can cut their hair and mimic kid Jason (much in the way that young Tommy Jarvis did at the end of Part 4). This will require a procedure of its own. First, scissors. Every game would load with one set of scissors in a drawer. It would be exactly one item that would function much the same way as a pocket knife should Jason grab you.

Friday the 13th: the Game
Sure, our counselors are a little older but the effect could still work. Not like Jason is supposed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Once the counselor has scissors, it’s time to look for a bathroom, more specifically a mirror. After this is done, the counselor will need time (perhaps a button-pressing mini-game like car repair, except based on composure stat) to re-style his looks. After this is done, he now has a one-time opportunity to stun Jason, much like the sweater.

I believe this will add variety and further develop what already is one of the most interesting aspects of the game.

Adding a more open water level

A lot of perks in the game revolve around water – this is true for both counselors and Jason. While it’s a cool aspect to add variety, it feels pretty weak right now for one major reason: There’s not a lot of water on the current maps. Most have a shoreline in a corner or narrow rivers running throughout. I don’t have any solid numbers to back me up here but I wouldn’t be surprised if the average counselor spent less than 10% of his or her time in water.

This makes all those water traits kind of useless. When I can only equip three perks – who cares if one of them pluses my water speed by 99%? I’m never going to use that. Oh, Part VII Jason has excellent water speed… does that matter?

Friday the 13th: the Game
As things stand currently, this almost never happens in the game.

While one new level won’t entirely fix this problem, it will help. I would propose one of two options. First, the setting from Part 7: A New Blood. I would design that map to have a massive lake in the center – maybe with an island or two scattered on it. This will force counselors to swim for rapid transit or item retrieval.

Second option is the cruise ship from Part 8. Since this boat inexplicably sailed from Crystal Lake to New York (how did that happen?!), it would make sense to have supporting islands. The claustrophobia of the boat would also be a nice change of pace from numerous levels of open cabins and sparse woods.

More weapon variety 

I’m actually really happy that they toned down the amount of guns and machetes in the levels. I always wondered why a summer camp had like… literally a gun every few feet. While it could have been a commentary on the status of firearm worship in America, I doubt that’s what Gun Media and IllFonic were going for.

While too many top tier weapons is a bad thing, I hope they enhance the number of options for mid tier and low tier weapons. The branch is awesome but it needs company. So I propose three new weapons:

  • a paintball gun: Made famous in Part 6, this rapid fire projectile could temporarily blind Jason if enough shots hit. The blindness would work like the blooper ink in Mario Kart 8, physically obstructing the screen. Jason players could always wash the paint off in water. While it won’t do much damage, it would be a terrific irk weapon.
  • Dinner plates: I see them on every table, stacks of projectiles. This would be the lowest tier ranged weapon. Counselors could hurl plates at Jason, hoping with enough direct hits to knock him down or at the least stun him. Stun chance percentage would increase based on the number of direct hits. Plates would come in stacks of five.
  • A rake: This weapon would function purely as a push-away. Counselors could prod Jason from a distance, not doing much damage but keeping him from getting close. Given that they just increased the number of throwing knives, this would be a cool chance to highlight their effectiveness. Jason would also of course eventually just break the rake.
Friday the 13th: the Game
How funny/frustrating could this make potential matches?

Monetization methods to support continued updates 

Now here me out here fellow players: Games cost a lot of money to make and maintain. Not everyone can do what Minecraft did. Gun and IllFonic have, to date, done an excellent job of keeping their Kickstarter promises and delivering a slew of free content. There’s but some monetization but it has been limited to a couple dollars for costumes and kills.

I want them to build on that. Keep the Kickstarter promises free, obviously but augment them with DLC to justify their continued investment. The counselor costume variety is terrific – keep it coming! This nature of superfluous paid DLC is the best as it doesn’t make those who can’t afford feel like they’re at an unfair disadvantage.

To this end, I have a few suggestions:

  • New Jason starting screens: Currently, Part 3 Jason greets players every time they load the game. While he’s cool looking, some variety might be nice? Charging a dollar or so per main menu Jason seems reasonable. Again, no one needs it but I might fork over some money to customize my game further.
  • Roy voiceover:  If players select the Part 5 – or Roy – Jason, they still hear Pamela Voorhees droning on about killing kids and making them remember and bla bla bla. Honestly, it would be cool to hear someone else. While Dick Wieand may not want to return to voice his character, it would still be cool to hear someone play Roy. Dialogue could be more focused around vengeance and his little brother and things like that. I would definitely pay at least $2 not to hear Pamela every single game.
  • Part 5 Tommy: Designing models is expensive and getting voice actors is also not cheap. These two factors together explain why we only have one version of Tommy Jarvis – the Thom Mathews Part 6 version. Having John Shepherd’s Part 5 incarnation (or even an adult Corey Feldman) would add some awesome variety to the game. But for free, it doesn’t make sense – not on the developer’s side. I would be willing to pay for a new Tommy, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
  • A Kane Hodder Jason costume: While Savini Jason remains locked away forever (single tear), they could add another cool/funny Jason to the game. Kane Hodder. That’s it, no costume, no mask (well maybe some kind of mask for gameplay purposes), just the famous Jason actor. It would be a fun extra and technically wouldn’t violate their policy of not charging for Jason.
Friday the 13th: the Game
Obviously buying the likeness rights to Kevin Bacon will be expensive but I would be willing to help invest in that cost.

Adding in a way to report bigotry/hate speech 

One last quick thing: there needs to be a way to report players who are bigoted assholes. I was playing as Jason one night and came across a kid. I could tell his age because of his microphone – I could also notice an accent. But I think, whatever, all races and people are scum in the eyes of Jason Voorhees so I’m going to go after him.

As soon as I kill his counselor, this other one appears and starts shouting the most vile, hateful crap I’ve heard during gameplay. Honestly it made me feel awful for having offed the kid’s character. I hope he didn’t think I agreed with any of the shit this “adult” was saying (I didn’t have a mic at the time so I could not vocally voice my disgust).

I made killing the bigot my next priority but I didn’t feel like that made it right. People like that should face consequences for spewing vile garbage across the internet. Jason may kill people but even he isn’t that much of a monster.

A report option please – I never want to be in that situation again.

Friday the 13th: the Game
Social Jason Warrior (would also pay money for whatever that looked like)

So there you have it, just some thoughts on improving the game. Obviously I’m not alone in having suggestions – just hop on the Forums to see more. If you haven’t played yet, give Friday the 13th: the Game your time and money – especially if you’re a fan of the film franchise. It may be a mess, but it’s a fun mess.

Ten Fighters You Should Vote Into Smash Bros.

Every time a Smash Bros. game is announced, part of the fun is guessing who will be in it. There are safe bets like Mario, Link, Kirby, and Samus, but there are also internet hopefuls. Well, now – for the first time ever – Nintendo is letting us pick. Yes. Yes. Yes!

Now loyal customers or perhaps just those rare few people with the internet (Nintendo still doesn’t know the internet is a thing apparently, just ask Mario Party 10) can vote for the next fighter. Simply go to this official ballot site and cast your vote. All you need to know is your gender (cause girl votes only count for .8 of man votes), the character you want, which game they came from, and why you want them. In terms of knowing your gender… I can’t really help you beyond providing this guide. Figure it out?

Okay, well if that’s as far as you got before getting lost, here are some ideas for Smash Bros. Some are safe, some are reaching, all are possible. Maybe. Power to the people! Yay!

1. Goku (Dragonball Z: The Legacy of Goku for Gameboy Advance)

I’ll start off with the Kotaku push. For those out there who don’t know – how do you not know? Goku has been around for ages. He is so popular that, even if you don’t watch anime, you’ve likely still seen him around. The Saiyan fighter seems to be a natural fit in a fighting game.

People want Goku so much that they've already added him to Smash Bros.
People want Goku so much that they’ve already added him to Smash Bros.

2. Paper Mario (Paper Mario for Nintendo 64)

Okay, the argument against this guy is that we shouldn’t have to vote for him. Why isn’t he already in the game? Like seriously, we got Dr. Mario as far back as Melee but Paper Mario gets no love. That’s too bad because, unlike his P.H.D. bragging counterpart, this Mario could actually warrant an original move set.

Paper Mario waiting his turn to appear in Smash Bros.

3. Bayonetta (Bayonetta 2 for Wii U)

If the Nintendo universe were not so devoid of sexuality, Bayonetta would probably already be in the game. Still, it comes across as kind of a dick move by Nintendo. Newcomer Platinum Games loves working with Nintendo after all. They made Bayonetta 2 a Wii U exclusive. Monolith Soft made Xenoblade Chronicles an exclusive and Shulk got to be in the game. Sounds kinda sexist there, Big N.

Bayonetta: the character who could single-handedly raise the age requirement.
Bayonetta: the character who could single handedly raise the age requirement.

4. Shovel Knight (Shovel Knight for 3DS/Wii U)

Why would not want to play as a knight wielding a shovel? Also the fact that this game has been one of the biggest indie hits for Nintendo should count for something. Let’s get Shovel Knight to dig in (haha get it?).

And he fits with Nintendo's anti-violence message!
And he fits with Nintendo’s anti-violence message!

5. Leon Kennedy (Resident Evil 4 for Gamecube/Everything)

Speaking of cashing in a favor, remember the Gamecube? Remember Resident Evil 4: that sick once-exclusive for the Gamecube that got everyone excited for Resident Evil again? Yeah, let’s give Leon his due. His move set would be unique, and maybe we could also get a cool cultist village level to fight in.

Leon's already enjoyed a crossover with Lord of the Rings, why not Nintendo?
Leon’s already enjoyed a crossover with Lord of the Rings, why not Nintendo?

6. Batman (Batman for NES)

Because what isn’t better with Batman in it?

Pretty much the only reason you need to vote for him.
Pretty much the only reason you need to vote for him.

7. Aang (Avatar: the Last Airbender for Wii)

Yeah, of course I’m going to promote more Avatar: the Last Airbender. Apart from that though, just think about it. Think about how much Aang would fit into Smash Bros. and how cool his move list would be. Did you think about it? All right, now make it happen.

With your help, Aang can finally be rendered with a mouth.
With your help, Aang can finally be rendered with a mouth.

8. Bomberman (Bomberman 64 for Nintendo 64)

We already got Mario, Sonic, Mr. Game & Watch, Pac-Man, and Mega Man. Poor Bomberman is feeling left out. Besides, it would be fun to have someone with continuous access to high-powered explosives.

Bomberman needs more love.
Bomberman needs more love.

9. Rayman (Rayman Legends for Wii U)

Seriously, this guy has a trophy in the game. How is he not already in the game? HOW?! Nintendo and Ubisoft need to fix their stupid argument and make this a reality.

He's already a trophy! This is the hugest tease ever!
He’s already a trophy! This is the hugest tease ever!

10. Godzilla (Godzilla Unleashed for Wii)

Because Godzilla needs to fight everybody. It is his destiny. This was my vote.

Super_Smash_Bros_Godzilla_1989

Bonus: Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th for NES)

Cause f*ck Mortal Kombat X. Nintendo should get him too.

Be sure to specify that you want the purple Jason.
Be sure to specify that you want the purple Jason.

Dear NetherRealm: Please Make a Slasher Fighting Game!

Some things just go together. There are plenty of essential combos like peanut butter and jelly, cake and ice cream, and NetherRealm Studios and video game violence. For those out there who don’t know, NetherRealm Studios is essentially the old Midway Games: the makers of Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat is a fighting game series famous for three things – gore, fatalities, and this incredible 90’s theme song:

Seriously guys, please include an updated version of that song in Mortal Kombat X.

Yet fighting games have struggled recently. The genre appeal grows more narrow. Really of the last five entries in the serious, only 2011’s Mortal Kombat was a serious hit and a critical success. The game featured a return to the series’ roots. Gone were the gimmicks, back were the classic fighters and tight fighting mechanics. It was a really fun game to play, and one of the downloadable characters was a tantalizing tease.

freddy-krueger-in-mortal-kombatThe nightmare master himself, Freddy Krueger. Even the fact that they used the design from the crappy remake did not do much to reduce the awesomeness of this appearance. It just made sense, like the appearance of Kratos in the PlayStation 3 version of the game. Where else did slashers like Freddy belong if not in the most gory video game series out there. And if NetherRealm was thinking Freddy for Mortal Kombat, could they not be thinking more slashers… like say a game’s worth?

But it did not materialize. Instead, NetherRealm moved onto the DC heroes and brought gamers Injustice: Gods Among Us. For the record, this was also a pretty enjoyable fighter. That said, the marriage was not perfect. NetherRealm had to drastically tone down the level of hyper-violence it is known for, and things like  interactive environments played a much larger role. It was good but, well – slashers would be cooler.

Think of it: classic characters like Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Chucky, Ashley Williams, and Pinhead face off against newcomers like Victor Crowley, Sam, and Jigsaw. The roster practically creates itself. Heck even the first two downloadable content bundles are easy to think of. First, the sci-fi slasher bundle including the Alien, the Thing, and the Predator. Then, the Universal Monster Classic pack. Jason Voorhees vs. the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Yes, please.

And the wonderful thing about slashers is that they each have their own unique location. This makes coming up with stages a breeze. NetherRealm could even bring back their interactive environments to help add variety to each level.

But the best part is: no need to turn down the gore. Every slasher would have a complete list of fatalities. They would simply be a best-of combo from all their movies. Just look at this:

It practically codes itself.

How perfect an idea is this? Indie developers have already created Terrordrome (free download guys, get it) while waiting for NetherRealm to get on board.

Now, the only obstacle would be in obtaining the rights. Not all of these characters are owned by the same company. That said, quite a few of them are – Freddy vs. Jason is proof of that. Also, who is Hollywood kidding, slashers are not as popular as they once were. NetherRealm could probably acquire most of these characters for cheap on the basis of brand promotion.

Would it have the immediate wide appeal of a game like Injustice: Gods Among Us: no. That said, it would actually likely sell better. As mentioned before, fighting games are an increasing niche market. With the exception of Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., no fighting game will top this year’s list of bestsellers. The trick is to appeal to the fighting game fans out there.

Frankly NetherRealm, a new Mortal Kombat with new characters made fresh on the heels of 2011… may not be what fans really want.

Just look at all the favorite characters added from recent entries... all two of them.
Just look at all the favorite characters added from recent entries… all two of them.

Release a slasher fighting game in time for October and see what happens.

Picture this... but a lot more so.
Picture this… but a lot more so.