Hey, AMIB, I heard about this awful game called Night Trap. What is it?
Worst. Game. Ever. Night Trap is quite possibly one of the worst games of all time, and certainly is the epitome of why full-motion video games that plagued early systems not only failed as a genre, but nearly killed both video game consoles but also the idea that video games might not just be for kids.
Okay, but where did this misbegotten thing come from?
Night Trap was developed by Digital Pictures, makers of such stinkers as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch: Make My Video, and was released in 1992 for the ill-fated Sega CD by none other than Sega themselves. Shortly thereafter, the equally-ill-fated Virgin Interactive licensed it for a 3DO release, and Sega took another try with a Sega 32X/Sega CD title that required both peripherals. The Sega cover looks like an old B-horror flick, with a blond bombshell screaming at the ninja approaching in the background, with NIGHT TRAP in red letters. The 3DO version, on the other hand, has some unnamed actress in a sports-bra and jeans gesturing at the NIGHT TRAP title, in white. The Sega disks themselves are notable in that they use the same WELCO/METOT/HENEX/TLEVEL cover as many other Sega CD titles.
Um, okay. How did it play?
The game, as such, isn't much of a game. Kelli Medd, played by Dana Plato of Diff'rent Strokes infamy, prances around in not-terribly-revealing sleepware with her skanky friends, who are apparently having a sleepover. There isn't even a "ogling the girls" angle here; Kelli has some seriously ugly friends, and they're all acting like my 10-year-old cousin. The feeling of dirtiness plus the incredible swirling vortex of horrible acting (sufficient to pick up FIVE POUNDS of bolts off of this shag carpet!) consumes any possible enjoyment, leaving you only with a horrible feeling of emptiness. If you don't believe me, you should hear them lip-synch the theme song. To quote Seanbaby, "it's the musical equivalent of raking a car alarm down a chalkboard and jamming the entire thing into the butt of a screaming cat."
Well, thanks for that mental picture. Now, you were saying something about how the game actually played?
Hey, blame Seanbaby. But the game. Right. You, as the player (watch for your reflection; you're holding a Genesis controller) are a member of the Special Control Attack Team. Yes. That does spell "SCAT". Anyway. Your job is to protect the various bimbos from, um, shambling zombie-ninja things, I don't know. They're just big and black-clothed and slow and STUPID. You have a series of traps set up, all of which seem to be smoke machines. Whatever they are, if you hit a button when one of the vampire-zombie things sticks its head in a trap, you're rewarded with, well, a short sequence where it falls over unconvincingly. The best job of acting in the whole mess. Of course, if you don't bother to pay attention to protecting the girls, you can watch one of the other cameras, and check up on an end table or some parked cars. It's usually a lot more fun, and you get to see the girls and a whole lot of really fake blood.
How could such a horrible abomination be created?
Blame Hasbro, Nolan Bushnell, and Tom Zito. Originally, Night Trap was concieved as a flagship title for the ControlVision, a VHS-based gaming console to be made for Hasbro by a company called Ixlon, Nolan Bushnell's new business after selling Atari. Withthe help of a later-infamous gentleman named Tom Zito, Bushnell formed a company named Ixlon. Ixlon filmed and produced Night Trap (then titled "Scene of the Crime") in three weeks for $1.5 million dollars. (Ixlon also produced another infamously mediocre game, Sewer Shark, for the ControlVision.)
When the ControlVision inevitably failed, the remains of Ixlon became Digital Pictures, and a number of the old projects were salvaged, including Night Trap. And now you know...the rest of the story.
Okay. So why should I care?
Well, if I were you, I'd be fleeing in terror already. Of course, the shining crusader of good, out to protect you and your children, one Senator Joseph Lieberman, decided that games like this Should Not Be Allowed. After a great deal of totally baseless threats to regulate video game content in Congress, Sega unilaterally instituted a rating system, one which would later become the basis for the ESRB's rating system. The games Lieberman was trotting out as Dangerous To Your Children? Mortal Kombat and the otherwise unimportant Night Trap.
It's an interesting footnote that Lieberman would later trot out one successful, quality title with mature content (Grand Theft Auto: Vice City) and one utterly terrible game that any sensible gamer already avoided for its horribleness (BMX XXX) in the wake of IDSA v. St. Louis, Missouri. History repeats itself.
Blah blah blah Lieberman Congress blah blah blah. Make me care.
Picky asshole, aren't you. Well then. While Night Trap is a game of worsts, it's also a game of firsts. It's the first FMV game to use original live-action sequences, something of a dubious honor when you think about all the other FMV games that used live-action sequences (Wing Commander thankfully excepted, although it wasn't really an FMV game). It was also the first (and last) game appearance of the inimitable Dana Plato, starring as Kelli Medd. Night Trap was the highest-profile Sega CD/32X hybrid title, all of which sold terribly due to nonexistant sales of those two peripherals.
Sounds cool. How can I play it?
Well, assuming you'd want to, you're going to have to hit collectors' stores or eBay, because this title is long out of print, and most chains don't carry 3DO, Sega CD, or 32X games. All of the versions of the games range in value from free to $30; look for a good price. The ideal version is the Sega CD/32X hybrid version, but this is a marginal advantage; no sense looking very hard.
Didn't Seanbaby do an article about this?
Yes, he did. So did I. It was part of EGM's Crapstravaganza, in issue #150. But I played this stinker too, and I wanted to node it, so nyah. My version is funnier.
Anyone interested in selling me a copy of Night Trap can /msg me.
Sources: mobygames.com, gamefaqs.com, Electronic Gaming Monthly #150, gamespy.com's "The 25 Dumbest Moments In Gaming"