Oh 1992, how we have missed thee
If it wasn’t Freddie Mercury belting out “Barcelona” for the Olympic Games, Kurt Cobain unleashing the most over-played Grunge classic of all time, or Philips exploding into the gaming arena with the CD-i, there was something for everyone. But for all of these exceptional memories, one sticks out ahead of all others – and that dear reader was the moment SEGA unveiled its latest sure-fire winning idea – Night Trap.
OK, ok. So, “sure-fire winning idea” might be stretching it a bit. After all, no one remembers Night Trap fondly. It was always low budget even for its time, poorly constructed, and incredibly frustrating. Hailed as the next step in video gaming, the game was supposed to be the Mega CD’s marquee release, but instead helped seal the fate of the often overlooked console. Being described as “Shameful, sick and disgusting” by Senate probably didn’t help either.
The game was originally developed back in 1992 by Digital Pictures and was a pioneer in the Full Motion Video (FMV) technique which had previously been utilised on LaserDisc. In fact, Night Trap‘s video sequences were actually filmed even earlier than that, in 1987, which is probably why they look so dated even for the early nineties. Players take on the role of an unseen surveillance expert, who operates as part of the Sega Control Attack Team, a crack force of military men and women tasked with investigating the disappearances of a number of young women from a remote estate in nowheresville, USA.
The player must monitor a number of CCTV cameras placed in various rooms of the main house, monitoring the inhabitants’ safety, while also dispersing of any creepy villains – known as Augers – that might be lurking within its walls. If too many of the Augers get into the house the game is over. If too many inhabitants are captured by the Augers the game is over. If your fellow S.C.A.T teammates are hurt … you guessed it, the game is over. But don’t worry, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Each room within the house contains a number of traps, all of which can be operated from the safety of your command centre. These come in very handy for capturing those nasty Auger bastards, provided you can get them to work.
The game is incredibly easy to play but infuriatingly difficult to master
At face value, all you need to do it watch the cameras closely and trap the Augers, but in reality, unless you have lightning-quick reflexes (or Google the time-stamps) you’re bound to miss a few. Once those misses start to mount up, then you’re on your way to a Game Over cut-screen pretty damn quickly. Sadly, even as a nostalgia piece, Night Trap isn’t enough fun to prevent you from rage quitting, or just simply switching to something more exciting. It’s a nice way to kill a bit of time before bed though.
Hats off to the team working on the 25th Anniversary edition. They were given access to all of the original videotapes allowing them to technically rebuild Night Trap from the ground up. Although there has been some degradation of the footage over the years, the general image quality is impressive, and the increased video screen size is a huge improvement on any previous incarnation of the game. The team has also assembled a couple of top-notch documentaries featured as part of the anniversary package which are worth the price tag alone.
Although 27 years have passed since Night Trap first saw the light of day, there hasn’t really been anything like it since. It’s definitely an odd choice to reintroduce to today’s audience, especially as you’d need the patience of a thousand saints to sit through it in one go, but despite it’s many, many flaws the game has become a part of video gaming lore and we’re always keen for these historically significant titles to be given a new lease of life.
For the first time in over 25 years, we can honestly say, Night Trap is worth every penny we paid to purchase it. The fact that it only cost us a couple of quid in the sale most definitely helped.
Review code provided
Release Date: 24/08/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Puzzle
Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Limited Run Games
Download link: eShop