This is a little bit of heresy in retro gaming circles, but I really like the NES adaptations of A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th.I think both of them take ideas and concepts from the movies and use them as interesting video game concepts.
Elm Street is a predecessor to a rogue like, in a lot of ways. All of the levels are set, but the order you go through them is random. In addition to this, rather than focusing only on health, you also have to focus on balancing your sleep meter with coffee. If you fall asleep, you are pulled into the dream world where you are more vulnerable to Freddy showing up. There is a positive trade off, though. In the dream world, you can become a dream warrior and you will be considerably more powerful in the game. So, at times, there is a benefit to falling asleep. Are there balance issues? Absolutely. This game is a Rare game on the NES. Like Battletoads, there is some bullshit difficulty here. But, I really do think it’s an interesting take on the source material.
Friday the 13th is a predecessor to a lot of modern horror games which feature an antagonist that stalks you. Jason follows a set path in the game, so you can use that information to either avoid him and attack him when you’re powerful enough to do real damage. In addition to that, having to piece together clues to obtain new items to help you in your fight against Jason, while also being acutely aware that he can strike at any time, is just a neat tension in a horror game. Like Elm Street, there is some bullshit here. Losing your axe by accidentally picking up a knife is extremely frustrating to say the least. But, overall, I think it does a lot of really cool things.
So, yes, while these two games have earned their reputations for being a little unfair at times, and complete bullshit at other times, I think they both did right by their franchises and created solid horror game atmospheres, even in the limited era of the 8-bit games.