A Night Trap Switch review, well, the 25th Anniversary Edition (are we really that old?).
A classic for the wrong reasons, Night Trap was a revolutionary game that introduced innovative gameplay mechanics with FMV, but the format never really took off for obvious reasons.
It could be argued the style of game wasn’t interactive enough, or perhaps that is was just rubbish. On the contrary, without having the first-hand experience when it was launched, I quite enjoyed my exposure to this ‘videogame nasty’.
It wasn’t supposed to be released on a Nintendo system due to the ‘shocking’ content, but it’s available as a digital download, or if you’re made of money and wipe your rump with crispy notes, maybe you bought the Limited Run edition? If you’re new to the title, or interested in my assessment, read on.
Night Trap Switch Review
Night Trap has its fair share of history that comes pre-loaded with the game. Its legacy is well-documented, and like the golden age of DVDs, the game features many extras, including snippets of the court cases where Chairman of Nintendo America, Howard Lincoln, declares that the game will never see the light of day of a Nintendo system.
Spoiler alert: Night Trap doesn’t feature any blood and guts, zero nudity and not one ounce of profanity. Considering the game didn’t come out in the Middle Ages, it’s quite pathetic how this was dealt with, but it gave rise to certification in games.
While it was hard to either buy or rent Mortal Kombat from Blockbusters as a kid, in hindsight, as a *heh* responsible adult, I’m glad that a system exists to limit children to graphic violence. Not that it stops some parents letting their kids play GTA and calling their parents names.
But Night Trap it’s remotely graphic – it’s laughable. Even the crew were laughing while filming it.
I don’t remember the early 90s being this 80s, but here’s the skinny. Five teenagers disappear at the winery house of Mr and Mrs Victor Martin, and the S.C.A.T. undercover Intelligence Team are sent to investigate with machine guns and bandanas.
Wait a minute? S.C.A.T.? Hopefully, Google doesn’t associate this acronym and the domain name ‘Vulgar Knight’ as something brown and sinister.
So what part do you play? Captain Surveillance. The game controller is rigged to view various vantage points from a series of cameras strategically placed in the house, and pressing B will activate one of the many traps configured in. Just make sure you get rid of the shadowy character in the game and not those meddling kids or S.C.A.T.man John.
But you can’t go triggering traps willy-nilly in Night Trap; you have to wait for the Trap Sensor to flash red first; otherwise, it won’t work. When a trap works as intended, the mysterious ‘creatures’ in the game get pushed into other rooms of the house or fall down holes full of dry ice.
Additionally, the Martins, for no logical reason other than to make a more challenging game, change the colour codes of the traps. To figure them out, you have to listen to conversations for the clues, and this is where the multi-tasking comes into play.
The playing area has a primary monitor, and eight smaller panels in the bottom left to scroll through. Each time you spot any movement, it’s recommended that you shift to that room to either activate a trap or listen to the story.
Unfortunately, there’s so much going on all at once, that it’s easy to miss the dialogue. It’s vital for the narrative, but also for determining the new colour coding for the traps.
Creators of Night Trap: Have you played this game?
US Senator: I don’t have to, it’s filth.Case closed.
Without giving anything away, the regular baddies you encounter are called Augers. Some bouncy, TMNT foot soldier-like characters that wield some neck-bracing tools on poles that extract blood for these toothless vampires. I have said too much…
Every time an Auger shows up, a counter will show up in the HUD, notifying you of how many you’ve caught.
But the real curiosity is these Martins, and why oh why is that kid wearing sunglasses in the house?
Other than a survival mode, there’s a wealth of extras in the game that resembles the days when everyone expected commentaries, trailers and Easter eggs in DVDs. The Night Trap Anniversary Edition extras do not disappoint and add to the value of the game.
First off are the options. As there have been so many iterations of the game, it features 1992, 1993, 1994 and 2017 layouts. It’s no big deal – mostly the ratio and literal arrangement of screens. The room icons are either the originals or revamped, and you can choose from a variety of languages – both the audio and text.
Here’s the full list of goodies on offer:
- Theater (spelt wrong) – re-watch the stories, a.k.a. the FMV cutscenes from the game.
- Dangerous Games – 1995 documentary worth a watch.
- A Conversation with James Riley – 2017 interview with the co-creator, writer and director.
- Timeline – Original timeline used during production.
- Production images – you need to unlock stuff in the game to see these.
- Scene of the Crime – never released prototype that was the catalyst in Night Trap getting made.
Be advised that there are no options to rewind or fast forward. With the controller in my hand, I exited out the interview and had to start from the beginning. While it wasn’t a travesty, I was a little bit miffed.
The music is one of my favourite things about the game. The menu music is a snippet from some of the Auger scenes played on a loop, and I LOVED it. It reminded me of Swans – check out A Screw video here on YouTube (unrelated to the game, but sharing is caring, Mofos).
Not Scared Of The Dark
While no way near on par with Citizen Kane, I’m going to say that Night Trap is similar to the infamous cinematic great as being the equivalent in gaming history. Stop laughing.
The bottom line is Night Trap is a novelty and would probably have died a swift death on the Philips CD-i in all honest, but it was lucky it made it to the Sega Mega-CD instead and received the scrutiny that the censors applied to it.
There’s that adage about no such thing as bad publicity.
As with most video/videogame nasties, the actual product isn’t great, and the controversy supersedes it. That said, I enjoyed playing the game due to the nostalgic components and knowing full well that I’m allowed to play it.
I had just wished my gaming experience had given me the advantage of getting through this quite quickly. Despite only having one button for interaction with the traps, timing is everything – even in this linear story. It’s a bit like Dragon’s Lair, Space Ace or perhaps other FMV classics such as Mad Dog McCree – you have to go through the hoops by design.