The full motion video craze affected me first hand. I was exposed to it when my dad bought our family a Philips CD-i. Now if you know anything about what that is, chances are it’s that it had some bogus exclusive Zelda games for it. They were a side effect from deal gone sour between Philips and Nintendo. And you have to assume that the games were awful. Most of the other games on the console were of the FMV genre, and I didn’t like any of them. Even though they looked a lot better than the Sega CD games.
FMVs we’re a novelty that showcased the advancement of technology – or lack of, at the time. The developers put the look of the games far above the game play, and they were designed for an older crowd. The industry was a little confused in the early 90s. A lot of experimentation. I always place game play over graphics. Some of the games I loved the most growing up didn’t even have graphics. I know I’m sounding old but it’s not my fault I grew up in the 8 it era.
In out modern times it’s Grand Theft Auto that receives most of the controversy and negative attention when it comes to a video game. But long before that it was a Sega CD release called Night Trap that had the spot light. And of course it’s a FMV game as most Sega CDs are. Some days I wonder how much better my life would be now if my dad had bought any other console other than the CD-i on that faithful day. I say that because Night Trap is much more interesting that anything on Philips’ miserable system.
Night Trap did receive a lot of backlash and controversy, and I’m not sure why. The story involves a creepy family who lures individuals into their house, and they let the monsters known as Augers feed on them. It’s up to us to prevent that. Maybe it was considered edgy back in the 90s, but I’ve seen Twilight Zone episodes in black and white that are more disturbing then this plot. And I used to play a game called Voyeur, on our favorite console – the Philips CD-i, where the objective was to spy on a sexy woman. Who was mostly in her bra and panties. Sort of creepy, but my dad liked it. Compared to that game, I don’t know what is so startling about Night Trap.
The game features 5 teenage girls in a house who are mostly up to non-sense. Things typical of teenage girls like pillow fights in their conservative under-where, and games like hide the kielbasa. That is, when they are not being killed. As tempting as it might be to watch the girls on the surveillance cameras, it will not get you anywhere in the game. Our job as the player is to protect them by watching the other rooms in the house, because there are hordes of monsters coming to eat them. And they must be trapped. Since the house just happens to be rigged up with booby traps. And it’s night time.
Night Trap is a very particular game. There are 8 rooms that need to be monitored and if you are not watching the right room at the right time then your turn playing the game will likely come to an abrupt end. The controls are simple enough. One button changes which camera that we watch. Another one deploys the traps to catch the intruders. Catching them relies on timing as dictation by an on-screen meter. When the gauge goes into the red it’s time to hit that button. The 3rd button changes the security system pass code, which is a simple concept. You must set the code to a color in order to have access to the traps. If the player is not on the right color then they can’t catch the monsters which leads to a game over. The password will change throughout the game. And once again if you are not looking in the right room at the right time you will miss out on that vital information.
The challenge of Night Trap is switching the cameras precise and fast enough to capture everything that the game requires us to. If you are able to manage that the game isn’t longer than 30 minutes. Although it will take a lot of play throughs to figure out how to trap enough Augers to complete the game. Also the footage and effects are very cheesy, but cheesy in a good entertaining way. That is where the appeal of this title lies. Not the game itself.