Nightmare on Elm Street is a video game for use on the Nintendo Entertainment System and loosely based on A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. It was developed by Rare and published by LJN. It should not be confused with an unrelated game with the same title for the Commodore 64 and IBM PC released in 1989. This game was released in October 1990.
The player takes on the role of an ordinary teenager. Additional teenagers can be controlled by up to three other players with the use of the NES Four Score. The objective is to scour the vicinity of Elm Street, collect the bones of the supernatural serial killer Freddy Krueger and dispose of them in the local high school's furnace.
The game takes place in the neighborhood of Elm Street and is played from a side-scrolling perspective. The game's environment is inhabited by hostile characters (such as zombies, cats, dogs, skeletons, bats and minotaurs) that will attack the player character. Being attacked a certain number of times will cause the player to lose a life. Because the game takes place around midnight, certain areas are initially locked off from the player and require a key to be collected for later access. Within the individual buildings, the player must collect the bones scattered throughout the level before being able to leave. When all the bones are collected, a boss battle with Freddy will commence. Defeating Freddy will both allow the player to exit the area and earn the player a key that allows access to a new area.
A game mechanic unique to the title is the "Sleep Meter". The meter indicates how close the player character is to falling asleep. If even one of the player characters falls asleep, all of the player characters will be transported to an alternate version of the environment referred to as the "Dream World", where the player is more vulnerable to attacks from Freddy. The Sleep Meter decreases automatically, but does so at a slower pace when the player character stays in motion. The Sleep Meter can be increased by collecting cups of coffee scattered throughout the levels. When in the Dream World, the player character can be returned back to the default version of the level by collecting the boombox placed somewhere within the level. Collecting certain icons grants the player characters special powers while they're within the Dream World, namely the ability to throw shurikens, javelins or magic projectiles.
According to the game magazines Nintendo Power and Nintendo of Europe, the original concept of this game varied greatly from what was eventually released. In the original game concept, the players would control Freddy Krueger and should kill the teenagers who were attempting to gather his scattered bones in order to rebury them.
Follows the synopsis of the prototype version of the game:
You ARE Freddy Krueger. A horde of obnoxious teenagers is trying to get rid of you by finding your scattered bones and burying them. The only way to stop them is to kill them. You can travel along Elm Street through the electrical and plumbing lines or step into a mirror and step in another room.
The kids have weapons to battle you with and some of them even possess powerful "Dream Alter Egos" ...but if you can strike before they wake, they'll trouble you no more. So sharpen up your finger razors and get ready to slash, 'cause Freddy's here!
It is assumed that this version of the game had been cancelled to prevent controversy. Years earlier, a video game adaptation of the movie The Texas Chain Saw Massacre had been released for the Atari 2600, where the player controls the murderer with the objective to chase and kill victims. The game was a financial failure because many sellers refused to sell it, fearing reprisals.
Writing in retrospect in 2010, an IGN journalist was mixed towards the game, praising its sleep meter element but also feeling it was a "low-rent Castlevania with a great but bizarrely weak super-villain."
In 2013, the National Entertainment Collectibles Association released an exclusive figurine of the video game-style Freddy with the glove-less clawed hand to go along with their other Nintendo-esque horror figurine, a video game-style Jason Voorhees based on LJN's Friday the 13th game.