What a dead Jason looks like.

A Guide For Beating Friday The 13th (1989 NES Video Game)

Friday the 13th for the NES Video Game System is not the easiest game to play, let alone win. Yet I seem to have reached the point where I win it every time I play. How is this possible? Am I lying about that? No, I am not. I don’t want to sound like I couldn’t possibly lose the game again, or like I always play perfectly, but I sincerely haven’t lost the game a while.


My tips for fighting Jason himself are at the bottom of the page. But first, let’s address a few myths about the game (other than it being impossible to win).


MYTH #1. Only 2 or 3 Characters Are Any Good.

I would say this is untrue, but you’ll hear it anytime you look at a review of the game. Well, not this time. Yes, Mark, Crissy, and Laura are the obvious choices to use, as they walk faster and jump higher. However, as time goes on, I have learned that Debbie and Paul both have strengths, too. Paul seems pretty good at throwing weapons at Jason, for example. And, although Debbie is close to being the most useless character, she can row pretty fast. Also, for whatever reason, George is sometimes the first character to get the torch when I play. Go figure. Strategically, it makes sense to keep all characters around as torch-getters, Jason fighters, and child-savers. Also, the characters can sometimes be used to cure each other. So this may be the most destructive and game play-ruining myths out there.

MYTH #2. You Must Light All The Fireplaces

This is not necessarily true, either. You just have to light a number of them and in a certain order. I won’t get all nerdy and technical about this point (mostly because I don’t fully understand the pattern, either), but just know you needn’t always light every single fireplace to get the torch.

MYTH #3. You Can Only Win The Game With The Torch

I have won the game solely with rocks, knives, and machetes often enough. The torch is obviously a good tool as it does more damage to Jason. But if you get good at fighting Jason, you don’t actually need one. Plus, what if your torch-wielder dies? Do you just give up? No! Keep at it and you can eventually show Jason what a mere rock can do!

Floats like a butterfly, stings like a decapitated maniac.
Floats like a butterfly stings like a decapitated, maniacal, vengeful mother.

MYTH #4. You Need To Fight Jason’s Mother’s Head And Go Into The Woods

While it’s fun to see Mrs. Voorhees swoop down at you, and even more fun to set that hag on fire, you may wish to avoid her altogether, especially if you’re in it to win it. I often regard her as an unnecessary risk, and if you’ve fought her before and won already, the thrill factor isn’t the same. Still, if you want to fight her, you can find her very easily. Go left and take the first upward path. If you have a key you can fight her right then and there. If you win, she gives you a special treat. Just know that it’s a life or death battle once you’re there, and a loss costs you a counselor. I also pretty much never go into the woods. I know there are cures and other goodies there, but I just don’t bother with it.

MYTH #5. You Have To Save All The Children

Nonsense! Unless you’re going for a perfect game, you can let some of the little buggers die. Just remember: these are not actual children dying here. Sometimes you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs (whatever that actually means). In fact, you can actually sit out some rounds where Jason’s attacking the children because he only kills 5 at a time. It’s not the soundest strategy, but it’s useful to know anyway.

MYTH #6. One Counselor Must Run To Save Another

To switch players, all you need to do is enter a small cabin, press pause and choose who you need to be.
Inexperienced players without rule books may struggle for not knowing this. They might lose players while traveling to a cabin where Jason’s attacking, get frustrated and give up.

Now, for some STRATEGY

The rock is weak and annoying, but it’s what you start with. They are best thrown in a crouching position rather than while standing. I also have fun throwing them at birds after they’ve swooped whenever they can still be killed. It’s a cheap revenge thrill, but I’ll take it.

The big cabins are easy to get lost in, but only if you don’t know them yet. They are the same pattern every time, so just memorize them. The nice thing is, once you’re in a cabin, it’s like another pause button. You can take the time to get used to the layout of the cabins, and soon it shouldn’t be a big problem for you. Just know the game has this annoying setup for when Jason appears. Is he around this corner? No? Maybe that one! Back when this game was made, this was equivalent to realism. If you really had to light fireplaces to attain torches, you really would need to navigate cabins this way. Yeah, okay….

Row, row, row your boat, gently toward the screams...
Row, row, row your boat, gently toward the screams…

When Jason’s trying to kill kids, just become the counselor nearest the madness. There are only two paths to the lake itself, so choose the closest one. The weird part: if you take the leftmost path to reach water, you have to disregard the map and row to the right to reach the kids quickly. If you’re on the rightmost path, you have to go left. I know it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but hey, now you know.

You can (a) hit crows with your weapons, (b) evade them by walking ahead of them as they lag behind (also a zombie prevention technique), or (c) simply jump over them if you have a high jumper (like Mark or Crissy). You can evade zombies sometimes just by walking in the same direction as them, and they’ll naturally form what looks like a conga line behind you. If you really want to show off, you can have a zombie tickle your back as you walk away from it. Just don’t stop suddenly or he’ll take some energy away.

Also, as a more general trick, you can avoid crows and zombies by entering the nearest cabin. Sometimes this can be a very effective strategy, as those dummies can do major damage if you’re not careful. For avoiding the water leaping zombies and lake crows, just learn their rhythm. It is designed to throw you off, but it is actually steady and therefore discernible. You might still screw up and take occasional hits, but once you’re used to their pattern you’ll probably be able to avoid them fairly often. You can probably do a practice run when Jason’s not attacking anybody. Study when the zombies jump and the crows swoop and you’ll see it’s almost like clockwork.

Two zombies calmly discuss timely issues as Mark casually strides past.
Zombies calmly discuss issues of the day as Mark casually strides past. “Good eve, dear gentlemen!” Mark exclaims.


Jumping in Friday The 13th can be very valuable, as it gets you knives, machetes, keys, and cures. Cures can be used to either partly heal yourself or another character. In fact, you can find one of the cures by simply jumping in the cave. There’s at least one by the lake, and some others are in the woods (if you feel up to that). However, if you’re not careful, you might accidentally jump and acquire a less valuable weapon than you had, thus rendering you angry enough to quit the game.


Make sure your controller is in good shape. If you have a beat up old controller where a button occasionally sticks, Jason will be that much harder to beat.

Anyway: why does Jason hide behind that hockey mask? It’s because, despite all his murderous inclinations, he is actually insecure. After all, a young Corey Feldman once beat him, so he can’t be as invincible as he seems.
True enough, to dodge him in cabin fights, you typically just press down and right (or left) once, then hit him while he backs up and moves around. Rinse and repeat. Hit him seven times and he’ll leave your counselors and the kids alone for a spell. That is until he is low on energy, in which case you’ll have to kill him for the day (or for the rest of the game, if you’re on day 3). Like everything else in life, Jason takes some getting used to. It’s easy enough to make a mistake and get hit (or killed), but you can surely beat him.

Now, on day two, he’ll occasionally go into hyper mode, in which case you’ll need to quickly dodge his strikes twice instead of just once. But he’ll still do the familiar backing up and scrambles pattern, which is when you fight back.

NES Video game
“I got a rock.”
– Charlie Brown, and also Jason Voorhees

On day 3 he’s always hyper, and I mean very hyper. You’ll have to be ready to dodge a lot quicker than before. Still, I believe you can manage it if I can. Here’s what to do: after dodging a blow, edge to the left a bit and hit the B button quickly to attack. You will occasionally hit him as he runs around like a headless chicken. Then, quite obviously, dodge again the best you can.

While you’re doing all this, make sure to have minimal distractions. I mean it. Turn your cell phone off and tell others to shut up. This is serious business, especially if you’re relatively new to fighting that undead, grown up, drowned kid. However, fight him often enough and you’ll be surprised by how easy it actually becomes, even on day 3 — especially with the torch.

To fight him outside, I recommend the rapid fire approach. Hit him rapidly a number of times and he’ll run away like he left something at home (probably his dignity!). This can sometimes be done while taking little to no damage yourself. If you have enough energy, you can even track Jason down and rapid fire him again, repeatedly. For example, if he runs away while near the path leading to the cave, press up and there’s a chance Jason will be around there somewhere. If he runs to the right, you can run to the right. This can be especially effective if you have the torch and are just plain tired of his crap. This sounds riskier than it often is. For whatever reason, Jason’s strikes are less damaging outside than inside (maybe the weather mellows him out a bit). Alternately, if you wish to avoid Jason outside, you can go in the opposite direction. Also, you can sometimes avoid fighting Jason by pressing up if you’re near a path or a cabin.

Now go destroy that maniac!

About wadewainio

Wade is a wannabe artist and musician (operating under the moniker Grandpa Helicopter), and an occasional radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton. He is an occasional writer for Undead Walking, and also makes up various blogs of his own. He even has a few books in the works. Then again, doesn't everyone?

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One comment

  1. To get the torch, you need to light all of the fireplaces in the large cabins. You can ignore the small ones.