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I've Got Your Number
Friday the 13th: Survival Horror's Origins
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on June 13, 2008   |   Episode 13 (Show Archive)  

   
12 years ago the video game industry was rocked by the release of Resident Evil, the game that many consider to be the modern birthplace of the "survival horror" genre. Capcom's landmark release featured fixed camera angles, cheesy voice acting, tank-like controls, and, most importantly, real scares. It was unlike anything we had ever seen at the time, akin to the first time you saw The Exorcist, Psycho or one of the other genuinely scary horror movies.

And while Resident Evil would ultimately influence countless other games (Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, Silent Hill, Siren, etc.), it was hardly the first game to try and scare the bejesus out of you. Many historians point to Infogrames' Alone in the Dark series as a jumping off point. After all, the original Alone in the Dark was released in 1992, a full four years before Capcom pushed Resident Evil on an unsuspecting public. But alas, Alone in the Dark is not where this popular franchise got its start. Instead that honor goes to the Commodore 64 version of Friday the 13th.

For the record, there are a lot of people who consider Haunted House to be the beginning of the survival horror genre. They point to the fact that it came out four years before Friday the 13th and offers a number of the same themes. But those people are wrong, because the only thing scary about that game is the pair of eyes you play. I contest that Friday the 13th was the first time most of the key elements of the survival horror genre were introduced, thus making it the proper birthplace. You heard me right, on this Friday the 13th I intend to use my 13th episode of I've Got Your Number to prove conclusively that Friday the 13th is where survival horror began.

Introduction to Friday the 13th
Outside of a recent mobile phone game, the Friday the 13th movie has only been turned into a video game twice. Thereis of course this Commodore 64 game and the absolutely dreadful 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System game. While not the greatest game
ever made, the Commodore 64 version of Friday the 13th stands above the NES game in almost every day. In fact, for the next couple pages you should probably just block out any thoughts you might have had about that terrible NES game.

Alright, now that we're all on the same page, it's important to know how Friday the 13th works. The concept is simple; you play a fast-moving (and incredibly horny) teenager who wakes up in the middle of the church with one mission and one mission only: Kill Jason before he kills you and ten of your friends. To do that you will have to run around Camp Crystal Lake and find this masked killer and use whatever weapon you can find to stop his evil deeds. Once you've done that the game will congratulate you'll turn into another horny teenager who must do exactly the same thing.

You're All By Yourself
One of the long-running themes of the survival horror genre has been that sense of isolation. Just look at Silent Hill, a game based around the idea that you're all by yourself in this creepy (and foggy) town. Even in games like Resident Evil where you aren't alone, it still feels like you're by your lonesome most of the time. And that's the case here, more so than any game that came before it.

Camp Crystal Lake is an eerie world that you just can't escape, no matter how hard you try. The entire world map is a mere 24 screens big, featuring little more than a forest, a gravesite, a church, a house and plenty of dead bodies. To make things even more terrifying, if
you walk too far in one direction you will literally loop back around to where you started from. That means that if you start at the church and keep walking north, within a few minutes you'll find yourself right back at that church. Talk about freaky.

And that's not even the worst part. Despite the fact that you are an able-bodied (and horny) teenager, you apparently can't talk to anybody else at the camp. That means that you can't glean information from them, warn them that there's a masked killer on the way, or hit on them and try and get in their pants. You're just stuck in this world, all by yourself, with nobody to talk to. Then again, at least you don't have to put up with condescending comments like "you were almost a Jill sandwich" or "you're the master of unlocking." Who does that Barry Burton think he is?

The Real Star is the Audio
Contrary to popular belief, being startled is rarely about the visuals. Just look at Resident Evil, it's not the dogs jumping through the windows that made you jump; it was the tense soundtrack and the abrupt (and loud) sound of windows breaking. The sound is important in this kind of game, perhaps more than any other type of game. If you don't have the atmosphere just right then it ceases to be scary, but put it all together and you have a genuinely frightening experience.

I would like to say that Friday the 13th is one of those games that just gets it right, but unfortunately the game features obnoxious repeating 8-bit music followed by a few quick sound effects. But that doesn't mean it's not effective, because let me tell you, this game will make you jump right out of your seat and run for cover. And even when you know the scare is coming, you still can't help but be startled every time something bad happens.


Click Here to Preview A Horrifying Scream!

If you take too long finding (and disposing of) Jason you'll be informed that one of your friends has been brutally murdered by a crazy woman who seems to be taking the identity of her dead son (spoiler alert). Of course, Friday the 13th doesn't give you a quick pop-up window or something, instead it shrieks at you at a volume that can only be described as "the most horrifying sound you will ever hear in your entire life." I mean, you'll get a more pleasant sound from actually killing somebody with a megaphone. It's as if the makers of this game wanted to spur on your heart attack by offering the one sound that would get you kicked out of your apartment. It's that loud. But at least it's effective, right?

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