I like Freddy, I really do. I may not like him as much as Jason, and in some ways he may only be tied with Chucky, but he kicks Pinhead's ass and makes Candyman look like a shithead. Wasn't born a Freddy fan, but that's only because the dude scared the...well, I don't want to say "shit" twice in the opening paragraph -- you've gotta sprinkle that -- but if you'll pardon, he scared the shit out of me. I never went through any kind of phase where Freddy was "lame" -- I was either too scared to like him, or I just liked him. As X-Entertainment has evolved from a site with articles about toys and junk food to a site with extremely long articles about toys and junk food, my relationship with Freddy Krueger has also evolved. He ain't just a movie character. He's fucking material.
I've written about Freddy Krueger ten thousand times, so I've come to know just how far his crazy knifehand extended into the world of merchandising. From bubble gum to action figures, window cling-ons and beyond, Freddy may very well be the only horror icon immortalized as one of those junky cardboard strips idiots put under their car's windshield before an hours-long romp at the mall on a hot summer's day.
During a time when video games weren't cool enough to pass as a child's one and only form of entertainment, Freddy Krueger also had the opportunity to become a board game. And because parent company Cardinal only gave the guy five seconds to name his game, Freddy drew a nervous blank and called it "The Freddy Game."
It's just one of several old board games brought to you by the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, but "The Freddy Game" is by far the most interesting of the lot. I know this because it comes in a bigger box. I've been hoarding this like some misguided squirrel for years, and only now do I realize why the box was originally wrapped in so much impossibly taped-up cellophane: "The Freddy Game" is something best left to your imagination. It's part "Clue," part "Life," two parts "Really Sucky." I can't say that I had a good time playing this, but thanks to a little vodka, I'm having a blast writing about it. Ooooh oooh ha ha.
The game promises to let you enter Freddy's house, which technically was Freddy's house at some point, but is now more accurately classified as "the house Freddy finger-fucks-up victims du jour in." As you can tell from the description above, this was one of those games where a player was charged with being the villain. It's up to the other players to identify Freddy and kill him. That makes this a ridiculously pointless game to bother with if you only have two players, and good god damned luck finding more than a single other person on this planet willing to play "The Freddy Game."
The "board" part of board games were a purely psychosomatic offense, because if you really think about which games you preferred the most, only a fraction of them had really awesome boards. "The Freddy Game" has an awesome board, and I am psychosomatically offended. You'll need a couple of weeks to assemble it, but when you're done, oh boy! Does that disposable camera leftover from some jerk's wedding still have a picture left? Time to spend that wish. Take a gander and try to believe me when I say that "The Freddy Game" blows big chunks of Freddy flesh.
I'm not sure if you'd call this a three-dimensional board game, but you certainly couldn't use it as a flat baseboard if you needed something to back paper against while doodling on the couch. It's a big ass board stuffed with vertical "walls" that help separate the many rooms in Freddy's house, and even if the game sucks, it's tons of fun to look at. If you're playing in a window-endowed room and you have voyeuristic neighbors, they'd swear you were doing something really fun.
PS, you're supposed to fold the walls downward. Thus, the ones shown above as twice as tall as they should be. That's why there are doors on top of windows. I think this error adds character to my fantastic article.
And then, the best part of the whole game: The rooms. If you count cellars and garages as rooms, Freddy's house has nine of them. They're all brought to life with a Freddy lover's touch, drawing from different aspects of the many films Krueger had under his belt by 1989. Like, the dining room seems influenced by that amazing "I AM GOING TO FEED YOU TO DEATH" scene from The Dream Child, and the gym seems partly in tribute to "STRONG BLACK MAN" who found his mojo in Dream Warriors. It's a stretch, but I don't care -- the dining room has a full-body roasted pig on its table, apple and all. Even if that wasn't swiped directly from a movie scene, it's still making my day bright.
Of course, there's also the boiler room. That's where Freddy chills. That's where Freddy and his buddies play poker and make titty jokes. The boiler room is arguably the most important room in the game judging by the number of "trap doors" on the board that force you to move your player piece there, but that just begs the question: Would a trap door send you to the boiler room, even if the board's geography dictated that you were in a room on the complete opposite side of the house? Maybe it was a trap door into an interdimensional portal that threw you through Dimension F-17 before spitting you back out in the boiler room. Or maybe they should've called the trap doors something else.
Through this cumbersome house, filled with walls that will pop out and go flat if you so much as sneeze at them, your characters will walk. They will walk straight lines, curved lined and backward lines. Sometimes, they'll walk through walls. There's a specific card that lets you do that. Let's meet 'em!
Well, "The Freddy Game" has nothing to compare to the car in Monopoly, but I guess some people might find kinship with one of these louses. Frankly, all of the characters seem so saccharine and boring, I'm not sure why I should identify myself with any of them, much less help them not get eaten by Freddy Krueger. On the other hand, by the time you end the game, one of these idiots will be revealed as Freddy in disguise. So, really, only seven of them are idiots. The eighth is just pretending to be an idiot so it can get close enough to claw the real idiots' dicks off.
Oh, and see those weird words on top of each player piece? Those are the characters' nicknames. The kids at school call the teacher "Insects," and Grandpa prefers to go by his old army handle of "Empty Grave."
I fooled you 100%. Those weird words are actually there to indicate the characters' personal fears. I can't believe you were buying that shit.
Examples: Dad hates snakes, and Cheerleader hates the thought of freezing to death. These fears haven't been identified purely for reasons of character development; no, they also exist to give Freddy an edge. Let's say that there's four players, and that one of Player 3's cards clues him in that he's Freddy. If Player 3 has a "Freezing" card, he can reveal himself as Freddy, waltz up to Cheerleader and kill her off. If that sounds at all convoluted, good! Convoluted is this game's middle name! Proof:
I've reviewed board games many times before, and I've taught myself that it's only fair to grade them if I made sure I understand the rules and play correctly. This wasn't a case of me rushing through the instructions and winging whatever was unclear. I read them thoroughly, and I played the game with friends a few times to make sure I got the hang of it. I've given it all I've got, and I still have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. I've followed the instructions precisely, but I still don't understand why people roll around the board for 50 turns, collecting cards and not ever using them for anything. Maybe it's the board game version of exposition.
Maybe it's just that there's too many rules in "The Freddy Game." Different cards do different things, of course, but different cards mean different things for different players under different circumstances, and if you need to use the word "different" that many times, it's time to drool and reach for Jenga instead. I abide by the rules of "The Freddy Game," but I do not accept them.
You get all kinds of cards. Some of them are "weapons," ranging from ice picks to big rocks, and yes, the card actually calls it a "big rock." Other cards have room names on them, and help players call upon the ancient powers of Juju to teleport from the kitchen to the study. Others are less defined, serving only to help you conjure stories in your head that you must repeat aloud to win the game. I'm 100% not fooling you. You really have to do that in "The Freddy Game." You have to make up and tell stories to the other players. It's more embarrassing than landing on Oriental Avenue, starting a cheering section and then realizing that your asshole friend has a hotel on it. We'll get to this amazing aspect of the game later. Wait, no, I mean now.
So yeah, you roll a die to get around the board. Sometimes, you land on spaces that let you roll again. Other times, you land on spaces that let you draw more cards from the deck. In rarer moments of triumph, you'll even land on spaces that let you steal cards from all the other players' hands. Mostly, though, you'll land on spaces that force you to "tell a tale."
This is where "The Freddy Game" starts to lose me. You can use all of the cards you deem stupid to forge barely connected little stories, and when you're done, all the cards used to create those stories are traded in for new cards. If you've got a bad hand, you just keep spouting off gibberish until you get a good hand. "The Freddy Game" is less about competition and more about cheating by the book. Here's an example from our pal, Rodents...
After landing on the "Tell A Tale" space, the player controlling Mom weaves his or her story: "This room is DARK, and there are no windows and thus no MOONLIGHT, and it's kind of STEAMY in here, so I'll go to the TV ROOM. No, scratch that, I'll go to the DINING ROOM. I mean the TV ROOM. Ah, fuck it, I'll go to the HALLWAY, because that leads to the KITCHEN, which has a peephole that'll let me keep my EYES on the GYM."
Just like that, Mom trades in all of her shitty cards for good ones. And it ain't even illegal.
Like I said, one of the players is secretly Freddy. My verb tenses are off, but they know this because they have a card in their hand that says, "You Are Freddy." No mistaking it. Players who portray Freddy have a few options. They can keep their identities a secret until the time is right, or they can out themselves in order to attack and kill other players. It really depends on what's in their decks. Being Freddy fucking rules, but it won't do you any good if you lack the cards to make him stab people. Plus, it isn't as if the other players are defenseless to Freddy's inclinations. In fact, it's just as easy to kill Freddy as it is for him to kill you. Obviously, "The Freddy Game" was based on the last three minutes of every Elm Street flick.
Even if you're the kind of Freddy who'd choose to keep your dirty secret a dirty secret, other players can force you to don the fedora loud and proud by pulling a "Who Is Freddy?" card. Finally, it's time to find out who's behind all this mayhem! Who is making with the mayhem?!
Oh no, not you, Dad. Not you. It can't be. You're too good. You've got a successful business, and kids who love you. Your wife is hawt. You can't be Freddy. Maybe you're just confused, or schitzo. Dad, say it ain't so!
Kid, it is so. Dad was Freddy all along. Once revealed, the player playing Freddy can trade in his ugly character piece for the suave, swank and enviable Freddy piece. Finally, "The Freddy Game" has a chance to be interesting. With Freddy revealed, the offensive attacks and defensive maneuvers may ensue. It's too bad the game ends about two minutes after the big Freddy Krueger revelation, but at least we'll go out on a high note.
As Freddy, you're free to wander up to characters and use your best "KILL YOU" cards on 'em. Here, a player takes his frustrations with late-to-arrive packages out by razor-fingering Mailman. This totally removes Mailman from the game. If you were Mailman, you're screwed.
It's one of the game's few positive aspects. Sure, it sucks to death if you're not Freddy, because what's the freakin' point of playing this awful game if you don't get to be Freddy? But, if you are Freddy (and you'll probably have a 25% chance or better of being Freddy), it's good times rollin' when you get to card-smack your inferiors out of the game zone.
Course, Cardinal had to give the losers who missed their chance to become Freddy some way out of dying immediately as compensation. Certain cards help players deflect Freddy's attacks or even destroy him outright. In this case, Freddy aims to take Mom out by exploiting her fear of rodents, but she's got "Mind Over Freddy!" This means that Mom knows how to think of something else, even when Freddy's throwing rats at her. Like so many horror heroines, Mom is revealed in these late stages to be a surprisingly resilient character.
Things only get worse for Freddy. Chances are, somebody has a "Mirror" card. The "Mirror" card kills Freddy. Based on the climactic scene from The Dream Master, Freddy cannot see his reflection without pulling a Mumm-Ra and exploding. Not only is this a nuisance for the player playing Freddy, but it means that a bunch of cigar-smokin' men have to accept that Cheerleader won the game.
Matt XE: hey Matt XE: freddy have any weakness to mirrors in any of his movies? why am i not remembering Pompei 223: back Pompei 223: yeah...nightmare 4 Pompei 223: dies from it... Matt XE: details, because that's how you kill him in this game Matt XE: and i have to sound educated Pompei 223: alice says the dream warrior rhyme and shows him the mirror...then all the souls in his body rip him apart Matt XE: i wish i was outside having a life
Hey Cheerleader. Turn around.
I think I've committed a great injustice; I fear I may have made "The Freddy Game" seem interesting. It's not. It's really, really bad and nobody should ever play it. As a decoration, as a 3D castle to make toys run down, or as a box to make your shelf full of board games nail an obscurity point, it's cool. As something to be played, I must give Freddy Krueger back the amulet he presented to me in trade for a bias slant whenever covering him. I'm giving "The Freddy Game" an "F." And no, Freddy. The "F" doesn't stand for "Freddy." On the other hand, I'm only giving it an "F" so I can tell you that. It's really more of a "C-." We're all happy.
Successfully blowing what would've been enough material for two Halloween Countdown entries, let's spend a moment frolicking through the magical land of the "Freddy Figure," a tough-as-knives rubbery rascal who promises to take a lickin' and keep on murdering your unborn children. The figure was part of a somewhat large Freddy Krueger toyline that arrived in the later part of the '80s, after Freddy made killing his secondary objective just after standup comedy. By then, he was for mass kid consumption -- the kind of guy that could be in a toybox by something other than the result of an older brother's prank.
The figure's deal is that it's indestructible. You can twist it and stretch it if you've got superpowers, but I don't, and all I can surmise is that this rocklike Freddy doll could only be damaged by way of machine gun. If you're wondering why Freddy's posed like that, it's cause I just told him the story about how I once thought I won the lottery, and went all the way down to the lottery office only to find out that I'd misread the numbers. Freddy was all like, "No way!"