Dead as Hell

The funk of 40,000 years! In-depth review of the most KILLER horror movies of the 20th Century!

A Nightmare on Elm Street NES (1990)

A Nightmare on Elm Street NES (1990)

By Matthew Fishgold of

Thanks to the re-imagining of Freddy and the return of Wes Craven to the franchise, Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) inspired many things for us messed up kids to enjoy. One of those glorious Freddy boons was A Nightmare on Elm Street for the Nintendo Entertainment System (1990).

In the 8-bit era of gaming, developers had to be more than just creative with their projects. Story wasn’t enough to reach the masses, so tight and responsive gameplay was GOD. Competing with stars like Megaman & Mario, people either had to step up their game to make cash, or piggyback a popular franchise. Enter Publisher LJN…

LJN was never known for being a trustworthy name for games to stand behind. The atrocities of the NES Friday the 13th (1989) game: case in point. Also, Jaws, The Uncanny X-Men, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and many more other NES titles are even further examples of the shit they churned out of their filthy, greedy buttholes. Which makes it all the more strange that A Nightmare on Elm Street is so playable…

This was a game that I grew up with. I always played it with my best friend, and we could never get very far. Now that I’m older, I can finally see why. Nightmare boasts the ability to connect and multi-play with up to a total of four players. However, with even one extra player, you’re going to fuck yourself. This game requires a lot of precise jumping to navigate through the levels, and the physics of your character’s jump mechanic is pretty bad. So, unless every player is working in absolute sync with one another, without any individuality, one character's progression will ensure another player's death, time and time again.

The game begins by putting you on a linear path of left or right. Either way you travel you’ll have to punch wolves, snakes, bats and shamblers in the face with your one-inch punches (totally not as cool as Bruce Lee). You’ll have to be pretty damn precise with these punches if you’re planning on killing anything, the hit detection sucks balls unless you’re right up in the enemy’s fucking grill. So, I’d suggest just jumping over everything, the enemies won’t turn around, they’ll just keep running head first like they’re in uncontrollable heat.

The object of the game is to discover the sequence of houses/graveyard/junkyard you have to enter on this linear path in order to collect all of Freddy’s bones within each area. Unfortunately for you, there’s no way to tell what the sequence is unless you’ve played this game as many times as I have...too many.

As you collect the bones in each level, you’ll be able to progress further, and only when you collect ALL the bones, miss one and you’ll have to backtrack. It’s pretty easy to miss the bones too; sometimes they blend into the background. Also, sometimes you will be jumping up on one like a fucking madman and it won’t let you get it. If that happens you’ll have to make sure you’re not using any Dream Powers.

One of the best parts of this game is using the Dream Powers. The Gymnast, The Ninja, and The Wizard are power-ups that you’ll find throughout the levels. They’ll allow you to use special abilities other than your one-inch punch, but you’ll have to be in the dream realm to use them.

The game is separated by an awake and nightmare realm. Within the Nightmare Realm is where I’d suggest staying as much as possible. In here you can use your power to shoot projectiles at the enemies, making the game much more playable, despite the tougher enemies.

Ghosts, satyrs, Freddy spiders, and flying skulls replace the normal enemies in the levels while you’re in the Nightmare Realm. If for some reason you want to wake up, there are boom boxes throughout the levels that will play a rad tune and jostle you back into the waking world. You enter the Nightmare Realm by letting your sleep meter run down, coffee will increase your meter, but everything else you do will lower it.

The only downfall about staying in the Nightmare Realm too long is that, eventually, Freddy will come after you for a mini-boss fight. However, once you get used to it, fighting the mini-boss Freddy is so easy that it’s almost a joke. So once again, live in the Nightmare Realm as much as possible.


At the end of each level you’ll be treated to a different form of Freddy, including his glove, head, ghost Freddy, bat Freddy, and alternate variations of the claw and head. To be honest, at the time of this review, I’ve still not yet beaten the damn game. I always die around the same spot too. In true Megaman fashion, at the final level you have to defeat every prior boss in sequence. Unlike games today, there’s no save feature for Nightmare on Elm Street, so when I die at the end level, I have to start all the way at the beginning again. Eventually I’ll beat it, even if it takes me another twenty years dammit!

It’s not saying much that Nightmare on Elm Street is the best 8-bit video game based on a horror movie, due to its lack of competition and poor contenders. Though it has its problems, the game is definitely playable once you learn how it should be handled, and who knows, you might just become addicted to it like I am!

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