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Night Trap (Sega CD) artwork

Night Trap (Sega CD) review


"This game was once singled out as representing everything wrong with the entire industry. That’s hard to do! "




Watch out, girls! Not only do you have the misfortune to be trapped in a bad FMV game, but there’s a MANIAC on the loose! And wouldn’t you know it, tonight he’s lurking within the same house as all you completely unsupervised, unsuspecting coeds – and you’re not exactly helping things by prancing to and fro in those filmy nightgowns. Do I even need to mention all those “accidental” glimpses of cotton knickers or leaving the curtain ajar while you lather up in the steamy shower? You coy vixens. But teasing unseen voyeurs with your sultry faux-innocence is only cute until someone winds up a mutilated corpse, and that’s precisely what happens when the buxom blonde is groped by a freak in a ski mask who subsequently inserts a whirring POWER DRILL right into her neck! Oh man, someone’s going to have an awful mess to clean up in the morning! But that’s not all, oh good heavens no. As if gratuitous violence and shameless exhibitionism weren’t enough, it’s the player who’s directing these savage attacks on you helpless hotties! This faceless pervert could be anywhere, just waiting to leap out and nab you for his sadistic pleasures – THERE HE IS! WAAAH!

No.

Despite numerous reports to the contrary, none of these shenanigans really occur in Night Trap. Believe me, I’ve looked. Repeatedly.

And yet this game was once singled out as representing everything wrong with the entire industry. That’s hard to do! Never mind that the Genesis library already offered video nasties like Technocop and Splatterhouse; it was the unholy trio of Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and DOOM that really had parents and politicians taking to the streets with torches and pitchforks! Well, not literally. That would be violent. But their moral outrage did lead to the notorious Congressional investigation into violent video games and the adoption of the rating system that remains in place even today!

In the meantime Night Trap was pulled from store shelves across the country in an effort to reign in this digital menace, which is hardly a surprise considering all the outlandish fabrications that were attributed to it: that your objective was to stalk teenage girls and drop them into traps to meet a horrible fate, that they were often half-naked and molested or raped, and all sorts of other absurd falsehoods. Absurd to anyone who actually bothered to play it for even a few minutes, anyway. “Power drill to the neck” . . . hahaha you wish, perverted lawmakers! All this controversy has made Night Trap one of the best known games on Sega CD, therefore it’s a shame that it totally sucks nads.

Like most interactive movies, the gameplay is extremely limited: you spend the entire night switching back and forth between security cameras that showcase eight totally empty and uninteresting areas of the house – EXCEPT for the frequent appearances of AUGERS, deadly vampire ninjas with pantyhose on their heads and murder in their hearts, who clumsily creep across these screens unless you can trap them by hitting the button at just the right time. Why, it’s almost as if the object of the game wasn’t to kill innocent girls but to protect them from these black-garbed fiends – EGADS!

Of course since you can only see what’s going on in one room at a time, this amounts to nothing more than trial and error; the times and locations are always the same, but unless you happen to stumble upon them all you can do is note whenever the number of missed Augers goes up, and then figure out which room they were in over the course of several additional playthroughs.

Sometimes there’s won’t even be a damn thing going on for some time, leaving you to sit around watching empty rooms while crickets chirp, while on other occasions you’ll be scrambling from one screen to the next as you might have the slimmest of time limits between captures if you want to get them all. To be fair, you certainly aren’t required to trap every last Auger unless you want the best ending, but if you miss too many the game will come to a sudden halt and force you to start over again, as there is absolutely no way to save your progress.

Adding insult to injury, you can’t even stop to bask in the glory of a successfully sprung trap if you want to win. While you’re busy capturing one Auger, another one might be even now shuffling away in a different room! Watching the best scenes will often cost you, as meanwhile a horde of Augers or even critical plot moments may be occurring simultaneously elsewhere. In fact, getting the perfect ending would require you to skip over practically the entire story. It’s also interesting to note that the opening movie in which you’re briefed on the mission occurs in real-time, so unless you skip it you’re wasting actual game time. Yes, watching the opening will totally screw you over – you’ll have missed ten Augers right off the bat. You’re expected to know what to do from the second you begin as well; a pair of Augers enter the house exactly two seconds into the game.

Speaking of getting screwed, if you miss someone changing the access code you’ll have to just randomly try the different code colors until you get it right, at least until the code is changed again. You’ll also have to look out for a few occasions when you absolutely must be around to trap an Auger that’s cornered one of the girls to prevent an instant game over. There’s even a couple of encounters when you aren’t supposed to spring the trap until the *second* time the capture meter turns red, one of which will likewise cost you the game.

So while the entire game is just under half an hour long, you’ll have to start over hundreds of times before you can finally make it to the conclusion. Or you could just check a walkthrough. Of course that would make you a grade-A weenie man, but if you think you can bear that kind of shame for the rest of your days, go right ahead.

THE END (?)

Having read all this you might think that Night Trap is just another lame FMV disaster that’s best avoided. This is absolutely WRONG. We’re talking about the greatest use of full-motion video out of any game that’s not The Beast Within here!

Just picture those lumbering vampire ninjas as they creep through the house like total idiots accompanied by ridiculously over-the-top electric guitars and oboes blaring away in an operatic medley of hosiery-wearing MENACE. Suddenly, the nearby closet explodes and knocks a hapless Auger onto the bed, which then rises up and tosses him through the window! Or perhaps the stairs suddenly collapse into a chute, dragging everyone down into a newly exposed trapdoor complete with an eruption of smoke from its unseen depths! Possibly my favorite trap, however, is launching unwary Augers off the roof, which cuts to a close-up as your victim soars across the heavens with a mighty *SPROING*. No wait, it’s the glass tube that suddenly descends from the ceiling and sucks them straight down to the HELL.

But brutalizing inept ninjas is only one ingredient in this bubbling cauldron of witches’ brew. Every single performance is utterly hilarious whether it’s your teenage vampire hosts dealing with teenage vampire angst, the “elite” team of commandos skulking about in the bushes, or that unholy cabal of 80s space cadets that you’re supposed to be protecting. The printed word simply isn’t up to the task of describing the scene where all the girls get together and sing the Night Trap theme song while twirling about in their sleepwear, chiming in with the beat, and of course occasionally lip-synching into a handy tennis racket. You really have to see it in action to appreciate it.

Then there’s the Auger that’s peeping from inside the shower while valley girl Lisa freshens up in a nightgown (GASP). Don’t get so distracted by this scandalous display of flesh that you let her fall into the hands of these villainous voyeurs, or they’ll drag her off through a secret passage after draining her of a few pints in the PG-13 (at worst) scene that caused Digital Pictures so much grief.

The neighbors aren’t much better, like the weirdo next door who gives her little brother a death ray and encourages him to point it at anything that moves and fire indiscriminately. I shudder to think of all the formerly innocent youths who were seduced into emulating this scene until someone ended up a still-smoking pile of ash. And let’s not even get into the depraved Auger who sneaks into the bedroom so he can rifle through the drawers and loudly sniff all the underwear. (We won’t get into it because I made that one up. Say, demonizing video games is easy!)

Even when the girls aren’t shrieking at the top of their lungs while being chased all over the house by hungry assassins in the second half, there’s seemingly no end to the epic acting ability on display. Watch in awe as they spend five minutes remarking on the fact that someone appears to be at the door:

“Wow, there’s someone at the door!”
“Oh, who could it be?”
“What’s going on?”
“There’s someone at the door!”
“Ooh, let’s go check it out!”
“Wow, someone at the door!”
“C’mon!”

Don’t get too excited ladies; it’s just Special Agent Collins, and he’s here to unleash every vampire’s worst enemy, the Old Jamaican Number:

“HELLO HELLO HELLO HELLO so sorry to disturb you like this, so sorry to barge in – but I was wondering if maybe you had you seen me BOOOOAAAAAT.”
“Your boot.”
“Me BOOOOOOAAAAAT! BOOOOOAAAAAT!”
“Yes everything is fine here hahaha! Yeah yeah okay, okay good night thank you HAHAHAHA!”

But you’d better watch out Agent Collins, or your undead nemesis Tony (aka “Studly”) might perform his best Raiden impression; he’s got bolts of lightning from his fingertips AND a teleport move! This is about when the elite commando team bursts through the door with machine guns ready.

“Who ARE you people?!”
“We’re SCAT!

In conclusion, Night Trap is totally worth it as long as you have an appropriately warped sense of humor – and you can get it cheap. If you want a great game that features virtually nonexistent gameplay, go play Snatcher. But if you’re in the mood for a hysterical, hopefully intentional parody of B-movies that caused a completely different kind of hysteria in Washington, this classic example of the FMV craze RULES.

(BONUS! The ultra-rare PC version is superior in every conceivable way, so read about it here. Right now!)

Rating: 4/10

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Staff review by Sho (October 31, 2006)

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