Alright, I’m sure you’ve all probably read and heard by now from The Internet that the NES adaptation of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a bad game. I know I’ve laughed along with that certain Angry Guy that makes those clever online videos when he dressed up as Freddy in order to talk about how much this game ‘sucks’. It was funny, and he had some valid points but he was wrong about one thing…
This game isn’t bad. It really isn’t. Not nearly as terrible as He made it sound. Man, if you’d never played it, you’d think “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was some sort of awful, unplayable mess. Well I HAVE played it, and its NOT. Although the jumping is a little ‘floaty’, the controls are fine and allow you to do what you want to do pretty much when you want to do it. The attacking and jumping controls respond when you need them too and no jump is ever impossible. The graphics are well done for their time, characters and enemies are big and colorful, and the music is great. This game was programmed by RARE (you know those guys?) who were amongst the royalty of the NES Sound Chip, so like most of their games one of “Nightmare’s” strongest assets is its original, moody, energetic score.
Most of people’s frustration seems to come from the fact that the exact order you have to enter the houses/buildings of Elm Street is unclear to anybody without an internet FAQ handy. Well, I didn’t have an FAQ when I was 9 and figuring out Elm Street on my own. Heck, I didn’t even have the Internet at all, it was the 80’s! Anyway, the main problem seems to stem from the fact that every time you start a new game, the order of entry of the first 3 houses on the block are shuffled randomly like a shell game so that sometimes you can enter the second house from the left first, or the third, or the first (but NEVER the Last House on the Left. Hmmm…) its kind of a cruel trick to anybody who doesn’t realize the order of the first three houses is ALWAYS different, and pretty much the only way to figure out which one to go in is to hold UP on the D-Pad for like 2 seconds. If your guy starts hoofing it up the stairs you’re in but if not, give up and hold UP on one of the other two houses. Once the first three houses are cleared, you find all of Freddy’s bones scattered throughout the levels, and you defeat their bosses, the order of the remaining stages in the Junkyard, Cemetery, High School, etc. follow the same order. Complete the stages, burn all of Freddy’s bones in the furnace of the High School, then enter Freddy’s House at 1428 Elm Street for the final Freddy showdown.
Sure, its kind of silly that the bulk of the games enemies are giant spiders, bats, skeletons, and rocks but seriously what else are you supposed to fight in a platform game based on a horror movie? Other than the goofy critters you fight, the game is actually surprisingly accurate to the source material, with most of its plot devices and story elements (such as it is) come directly from perennial fan favorite film “A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors”. In fact, this is THE GAME for anybody who ever wanted to be a Dream Warrior. When you are awake, you character can collect tokens that allow you to gain a special power when your character ‘falls asleep’ and has to fight through Freddy’s Dream World. Once in the Dream World, you can push Select to become one of three cool and effective avatars: A javelin-throwing ‘acrobat’, a ninja that jump kicks and throws shurikens, and The Wizard Master himself, capable of hurling powerful fireballs and floating Princess-style when he jumps. None of these powers suck, but you will probably end up having your favorite. Just when you say “Why don’t I just stay asleep if I have such cool powers?” you hear the famous “One, Two, Freddy’s Coming For You…” song. Once it gets to the end you come face-to-face with this games biggest glaring issue.
Freddy comes after you… and it is probably the lamest ‘boss fight’ in gaming history. A goofy-looking 8-bit Freddy Krueger jumps wildly around a small room while swiping at nothing but air with his claw. I admit it, this is very lame.
So is “A Nightmare on Elm Street” for the NES a classic? No. Is it a steaming pile of junk? Also, no. It has its flaws but if you do figure out the order of the stages (houses) you’ll be rewarded with a solid platforming adventure with good graphics, great music, fun special powers, responsive controls, and Multiplayer. That Nerd can say whatever he wants, I had a NES Four Score and I never had much trouble convincing three other buds to kill an hour or two trapesing around Freddy’s neighborhood, punching spiders and delivering ninja jump kicks to the face of The Freddy Snake.
Not as bad as you’ve been told. 3 out of 5 Hot Pink Stars. Joe Bob says check it out.