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A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES) artwork

A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES) review

"Anyone who knows me knows I put two movie series above all others: Predator and Terminator. But everyone also knows that I love the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and still consider the original to be one of the finest movies ever made. It had everything needed to be an effective horror movie, along with the most effective villian and plot ever assembled for a video game. The idea of an evil child murderer getting revenge for the people that killed him by haunting their kids while they sleep is..."

Anyone who knows me knows I put two movie series above all others: Predator and Terminator. But everyone also knows that I love the Nightmare on Elm Street series, and still consider the original to be one of the finest movies ever made. It had everything needed to be an effective horror movie, along with the most effective villian and plot ever assembled for a video game. The idea of an evil child murderer getting revenge for the people that killed him by haunting their kids while they sleep is such a great concept, and it really led to a terrifically done movie.

So, it's no surprise LGN made a really crappy video game based off of it.

Fortunately, the game is not as bad as a Jaws or Total Recall, but it's still right around Predator and Friday the 13th in terms of crapiness. I have no idea what LGN was smoking back in the days, as they had absolutely no idea how to make a video game based off a movie. At least the movie-based games coming out nowadays have something to do with the games. Not this time out. The only thing that's similar to the movie is the fact that Freddy's haunting some kids in their dreams. Well, at least they kept THAT aspect of the movie in.

Other than that, Nightmare on Elm Street is yet another disappointing movie game. It's a typical side scrolling game. You start off in the middle of nowhere, and you simply go left and right, killing weird enemies like bats and zombies. Again, it goes without saying.. why bats and zombies? I had the same question with the Friday the 13th game. I know you need enemies to fit into the game, but this is pretty stupid. At least have some flying Freddy heads, or running gloves, or something. Something that would fit into the idea of the movie, not this crap.

The objective of the game is to find Freddy's bones and other items, which are scattered around Elm Street, which happens to be the longest street in the universe. You then take these items and destroy them all, ending the curse of Freddy once and for all. You go from house to house, dodging weird traps and killing weird enemies, until you get to a boss, which are the Freddy/glove things that I talked about in the last paragraph. Well, I guess they couldn't have used a big bat as a boss or something.

The coolest part of the game, and the only thing that saves it from being total crap, is the addition of a ''dream meter''. This replaces your standard life bar. When enemies hit you, it slowly fills up your sleep bar. When it gets filled up all the way, and then you enter the dream world. And guess who happens to be in this dream world. That's right. If you can find a way to escape without dying, you continue, otherwise you will get a game over after Freddy kicks your ass. This is a tremendously effective and innovative way to replace a standard life bar, and makes the game far more interesting as a result.

I also like how the game manages to be pretty non-linear. You can collect Freddy's bones and the other items needed in any order that you wish, which makes the game far more non-linear than your typical side scroller. However, it also makes the game a tad more confusing, in a Castlevania 2 sort of way. Hell, this game actually is a lot like Castlevania 2, now that I think about it. Just throw in Freddy, haunted houses, and spiders as enemies, and that's pretty much the best way to describe this game. Anyways, yeah, the non-linearity of the game is cool and will prove to be a good aspect of the game once you get over the inital confusion.

The controls are not terribly responsive and will prove to be a deterrent more times than not. Jumping is the main issue here, as your characters will overjump a lot of the time. This makes completing simple platform jumps a lot more challenging than usual. Most of the controls are basically like this, and it really makes the game a lot more frustrating than it should be. Stupid LGN...

The game doesn't look too bad, but it won't win any awards. The yellow bar on the top of the screen is the main problem I had with the graphics, as it looks incredibly ugly and provides a big distraction from the actual gameplay. The enemy designs aren't too bad, however, as there's a nice variety of them and they're pretty decently detailed. The repeating sprites are there, of course. There's a few colors of spiders, for instance, but it's not that bad. Freddy looks really cool, which is the important thing here. The backgrounds have a lot of detail and will blend in nicely, meaning a lack of eyesores. I really liked the graphics for the most part, besides that ugly bar on top of the screen.

Unfortunately, the music isn't quite that good. It proves to be a little annoying, as it's the typical MIDI crap that plagued a lot of NES games back then, especially movie games. I did notice one song that played in Who Freamed Roger Rabbit, though. I think LGN got a tad lazy there, but hey, it's hard to make video game music, so I won't blame them too much. I love the song that plays when Freddy is near though. It's a MIDI version of the ''1, 2, Freddy's coming for you'' song, which is a classic song that will haunt me forever. The sound effects are chilling and very effective. The sounds and music is good, but could have been even scarier and better.

The game is challenging, which is always a good thing. Some of the traps in the game are hard to get through, and the bosses are a little tough, especially considering the mediocre weapons you have. However, once you actually figure out where to go and where everything is, the game loses a lot of challenge. Most of the challenge comes from simply surveying the game and finding out where everything is. Not that that is a bad thing, but it leads to an incredibly low amount of replay value as a result.

That's because once you know where everything is, you have no reason to really play it. The game is not that fun, and the lack of secrets is also a major problem. I just bought this game two days ago and I'm already sick of it. And I'm the world's biggest fan of the movie and was going to give this game a chance no matter what. The fact that the game is boring, has no secrets, and has non-linearity that can be figured out in a day, simply means that the game has no replay value whatsoever.

This game could have been really special, but it sadly just turned into a cookie cutter game that LJN made so many of back in the day. The game even has elements ripped right out of other LGN movie-based games (music from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, weapons from Friday the 13th). It has some novel ideas (the non-linearity was a good idea, and the dream meter is incredibly cool), but overall the game could have been, and should have been so much more.

Should you want Freddy coming for you? Not this time. Take a pass on this game and just watch the movie.

psychopenguin's avatar
Community review by psychopenguin (November 01, 2003)

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