6 Friday the 13th References in Japanese Games

    Jason can pop up when you least expect him: even in a Mario game.

    While the franchise’s link to its own name is pretty confusing at this point, there’s not a single time a Friday falls on the 13th that I don’t think of the popular film series starring Jason Vorhees. We haven’t seen anything out of the franchise in quite a while, but Jason remains iconic. You’ll see a hockey mask or a machete every so often these days, but in the 80s and 90s, you couldn’t get away from Friday the 13th mania. It even proved popular enough to pop up in video games coming out of Japan. References to the franchise can be found in games ranging from obscure oddities like Illbleed, to multiple entries in the most successful JRPG series of all time. Here are 6 Friday the 13th references in Japanese games!

    1. Final Fantasy VI – Edgar with Jason’s Hockey Mask

    Edgar wearing Jason Voorhees hockey mask from Friday the 13th in Final Fantasy VI
    Image captured by Reddit user “dkcyw”

    In Final Fantasy VI, party member Edgar is an engineer and machinist who can select from a menu of “Tools” to use in battle. These include an automatic crossbow, a soundwave gun, and a simple (but effective) chainsaw. When using the chainsaw, there’s a 25% chance that the tool will instantly kill an enemy. When a player lands one of these lucky strikes, Edgar’s sprite will wear Jason’s iconic hockey mask. It’s funny enough to see noble-looking Edgar wielding a regular ol’ chainsaw, but the addition of a Jason mask really sets things off.

    Friday the 13th fans will likely be confused by a chainsaw being associated with their series’ slasher. Jason, in his many film appearances, has never used a chainsaw. Even casual fans of the franchise know a machete is his trademark weapon. Whether the combo of hockey mask and chainsaw is an intentional blending of horror icons Leatherface and Jason Voorhees in reference to slasher movies as a whole, or if it’s some sort of Mandela Effect is unknown; but it’s not limited to Japan. The mask and chainsaw ensemble is featured in LucasArt’s Zombies Ate My Neighbors and the film National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

    2. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle – Jason Enemy

    Kickoree enemies in Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle who closely resemble Jason Voorhees

    I’m not sure how much explaining there is for me to do here. That’s just straight-up Jason Voorhees in Alex Kidd. He isn’t named Jason in the game or its documentation of course, and it’s worth noting that this isn’t an easter-egg one-off appearance, but a regularly encountered enemy that there are many of.

    These Jason clones are known as “Kickorees” and they use their axe to chop down anything in their way to get to you. It’s surprising that such a blatant depiction of the Friday the 13th monster made it past certification when another 80s game later in the list had to make a specific change to avoid legal issues.

    3. Illbleed – Jason’s AxeA reference to Friday the 13th in the Illbleed instruction manual

    If it wasn’t evident from a steak dinner, an IV bag, firearms, an adult magazine, and the concept of deep breathing all being part of a single inventory system: Illbleed is a very strange game. Famous for its insane trailer, this Dreamcast horror-comedy is absolutely worth a try if you’re a fan of off-kilter games.

    The Friday the 13th reference here is a small one, but one of the more well-reasoned. Unlike the linking of Jason to a chainsaw, mentioning Jason in the same breath as an axe makes perfect sense. Axes are the second most common weapon Jason uses throughout the films. I do have to wonder what they’re talking about with the blood not causing rust. Are they letting us know this is made from a fancy metal? Is it magical? Who knows?

    4. Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins – Jason Goombas

    A Jason mask-esque goomba in Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins

    In the Pumpkin Zone in Super Mario Land 2, there are enemies known as Masked Ghouls who move and react like goombas, but look decidedly different. These hockey mask-wearing monsters waddle around with a knife in their head. This cements their status as undead creatures and seems to reference Jason’s near indestructibility.

    Like with Final Fantasy, it’s surprising to see a franchise as schlocky and gory as Friday the 13th leaves its mark on something as mainstream as Super Mario. It could be argued that Final Fantasy slipped in their reference before they were a worldwide phenomenon, but Mario was already a household name in Japan and the United States by Super Mario Land 2‘s release in 1992, making this a bold choice.

    5. Final Fantasy VII – Vincent’s Slasher Transformation

    Vincent Valentine's "Hellmasker" transformation resembling Jason Voorhees

    In Final Fantasy VII, the enigmatic Vincent Valentine has unique Limit Breaks compared to the rest of the party’s standard attacks, buffs, and heals. Vincent transforms into one of four creatures and becomes uncontrollable until he returns to his normal state. His Level 3 Limit Break, “Hellmasker”, sees him morph into a hulking movie monster.

    Once again, a chainsaw is paired with Jason’s infamous hockey mask. Though the mask loses its trademark holes in-game, it’s clear from the concept art that this is a Friday the 13th reference. Whether they changed the mask to avoid legal issues or if technical limitations prevented them from having it appear as it did in its art is unclear. As mentioned earlier on the list, FFVI had the mask and chainsaw as well, making this connection to Jason undeniable. While Edgar was just throwing on a mask, Vincent is actually an undead, semi-immortal monster, so his ties to the slasher legend are much more credible.

    6. Splatterhouse – A Tribute to Horror Movies Ft. Jason’s MasksSplatterhouse key art

    The first Splatterhouse hit arcades in 1988 and was full of horror movie-inspired beat ’em-up action. A video game love letter to the film genre, Splatterhouse is the only title on the list to reference a second of Jason’s masks: the tied sack he wears over his face in earlier Friday the 13th movies.

    Rather than featuring an enemy as a reference or having a quick visual gag, Splatterhouse gives you control of a big, violent, weapon-wielding, hockey mask-wearing fellow for its entirety. This put the gory game in danger of legal issues with Friday the 13th rights holders, and for the US release of Splatterhouse, protagonist Rick’s mask was changed from white to red and reshaped to look more skull-like.

    That’s our list of references to Friday the 13th in Japanese games! With a series that was this massively popular, there are surely more out there to discover, so keep your eye out for them! Have a great Friday the 13th, and maybe avoid lakes and forests this evening!

    BusterSwordBoy is a video game enthusiast who writes about them here, plays them live on Twitch, and talks about them endlessly to anyone who will listen. Subjectively believes that the PS2 is objectively the greatest console of all time, but also loves games from far older hardware, and new releases as well.

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