Gaming History 101

Know Your Roots

Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition Analysis

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Night Trap holds odd significance to those that grew up with it.  It basically ushered in so-called “Full Motion Video” (FMV) games and in the process managed to snag some controversy, which only escalated its popularity in the early 90s.  The game itself and the storied tale of its development and release have already been covered here on Gaming History 101, so feel free to check out that retrospective for more information on the original game.  Since then the game has achieved cult status and despite being notoriously bad, you can’t help but talk about it.  Then in 2014, the creators attempted a failed Kickstarter that led to a random developer showing the game running on a cell phone, and eventually led to that developer creating the one-man studio Screaming Villains along with a re-release of Night Trap in 2017.  By bringing Night Trap 25th Anniversary to the masses, I fear that it won’t connect with most players that didn’t appreciate it before and it brings up some heavy realities for fans.  If you’re going to take the plunge, either as a longtime fan or for the first time, you’d best prepare for some unfortunate caveats that extend beyond the concept of the original.

When Night Trap premiered it was trying to fit approximately 90 minutes of footage onto CDs and compressing it in a way the Sega CD can show off.  That means a small resolution (168×104) and a limited color palette, which were just a reality back then and no one thought much about it.  Over the years and ports the resolution and quality were expanded to 272×104 and pretty much resembled MPEG1 or VCD standard.  This is nothing compared to the massive 1920×1080 (1080p) resolution we’re currently accustomed to, not to mention 4K, which is four times 1080p. When you look at the cleaned up version of Night Trap 25th Anniversary Edition on trailers, it appears that the game is amazingly crisp, but when you boot up the game proper it reveals itself to be more akin to a DVD than anything else.  For those that have played previous versions, that’s much cleaner than any version we’ve seen, but it doesn’t hold a candle to modern video.  Granted this footage is coming off of the master tape, which is most likely a broadcast standard betamax, and therefore can only be improved so much.  The reason movies can be magically upgraded to blu ray standards is because they are on film, but this wasn’t the case with Night Trap.  For that same reason the frame rate is counter to what you expect from movies as well.  Modern blu rays follow the film standard for frame rate of 24 frames per second (fps), whereas broadcast over the air is typically still 30 fps for the NTSC (US) standard.  Since the Night Trap masters were on tape, it’s captured at 30 fps.  Oddly enough, based on the player codecs of this game the PS4 version plays at only 24 fps so at times it can seem a bit jumpy.  On the PC the game runs at native 30 fps and the action appears smoother.  In both versions, however, you can sometimes experience odd glitches with the video where what’s happening on screen doesn’t match your control console.  Sometimes you trap an enemy that isn’t anywhere near the trap, but in doing so the footage will jump to capturing him and move forward.  Other times the audio will be behind the video, which seems only a bit annoying when watching a random scene, but if you’re trying to watch some plot points or God forbid listen for a code change it can be a game-ending bug.  Since this was pieced together from archival footage, there are extra scenes that were restored in the new “ReVamped” edition that can completely change some important outcomes and endanger characters that you never had to worry about before.   Hardcore fans can relax, you also have the option of playing the “Classic” version of Night Trap that appears identical to the original.  During some of the scenes there can be some tape damage that appears on the screen, certain scenes are pieced together and thus not edited very well, and you should expect a few jump cuts.  It’s nothing to write home about, but it is noticeable.

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Written by Fred Rojas

August 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Back to the Future (Backward Compatibility Part 2)

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This week Jam and Fred are joined by Austin to discuss the more recent implementations of backward compatibility.  From the software-based 360 to the pure hardware based Wii and of course the Playstation 3 falling somewhere in between.  Then the group move on to this generation and the myriad of adapters that attempted to force back compat on consoles that were never designed for it.

Song List:

Break 1: Big Blue from F-Zero (SNES)

Break 2: The Boy’s Got Wings from Ys III: Wanderers From Ys (TG-CD)

Break 3: Splash Wave from Outrun (Arcade)

Closing: Main Theme from Odin Sphere (PS2)


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Written by Fred Rojas

August 16, 2017 at 11:00 am

GHX Ep. 15: Actual Culture

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This week Fred is joined by Future Monkeys co-host Beardy McWhiskey while Trees and Jam have the day off.  Discussions vary from what gaming does to your brain, the culture of marketing to gamers, and even this new loot box phenomenon.


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Written by Fred Rojas

August 15, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Eternal Darkness Game Club

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Fred and Jam sit down and dissect Silicon Knights’ 2002 Gamecube title Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.  After discussing the lineage of Silicon Knights and it’s history, the two delve into the campaign of a game that literally messes with you.


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Written by Fred Rojas

August 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

GHX Episode 14: Full House

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This episode is a packed house with Wolfy (overclock.net) and guest Chase (learnedfromgaming.com) joining Fred and Trees, but the discussion is worth the crowded conditions. Tangents begin immediately but eventually they get back to discussing modern console wars, vacations, the current Switch library, and Sonic’s sordid legacy.  The venting continues with a lengthy “Just Stop” section resulting in the longest (but one of the strongest) episodes yet.


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Written by Fred Rojas

August 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Future’s Past

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This week Fred and Jam handle a slew of listener comments followed by the first part of the discussion on backward compatibility.  New consoles playing old games seems like a no-brainer that should be in every console, but over the course of history it was never consistent by any manufacturer.  Our duo compare the consoles that were backward compatible and how useful the function was in their own past.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

Lode Runner Legacy Review

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Lode Runner is back.  That’s one of those odd phrases I never thought I would write.  While the game has notoriety and the series has continued to release games over the more than three decades since the original, I feel I’m not unique in my thoughts that the original was all I needed.  More recent attempts to create sequels or move the game to platforms that just don’t seem well suited have fallen flat, so needless to say I approached Lode Runner Legacy with a great degree of caution.  One thing stood out, though, the visuals.  I love the voxel (volumetric pixel) aesthetic and with the promise of the original 150 levels, it was a slam dunk provided they nailed the feel.  Lode Runner Legacy also excels gameplay and combines it with a whimsical classic soundtrack that made me feel just as addicted as I did back when I was five.  So, like I said, Lode Runner is back.

If you aren’t familiar with the 1984 Apple II game or the endless ports to just about every microcomputer and console since then, allow me to get you acquainted.  It’s a single-screen platformer with restrictions, and acts as more of a puzzle game than anything else.  Your avatar, “The Runner,” is tasked with collecting all of the gold pieces in a level and then escaping through a ladder that extends once the level is complete.  As you can expect there are obstacles and enemies preventing you from your goal and lets not forget the score, which counts down as soon as you begin in a push to have you speed run each level.  Probably the most distinct restriction is the fact that The Runner cannot jump, so in order to navigate the vertical puzzles you have to combine the use of ladders and ropes on the screen as well as your ability to dig away at the very platforms you walk on.  While this can open up new areas, help discover hiding gold, and capture enemies, it can also get you instantly stuck in a fail state.  This push and pull of figuring out just how to navigate the level while a timer ticks away and enemies chase you down is precisely the draw to Lode Runner, for better or worse.  If you are the type of personality that likes challenge, or you’re just a perfectionist, get ready for what will surely become an obsession.  I recall playing this game for hours on my dad’s Commodore 64 in the late 80s and it’s always held a special place in my heart.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Podcast: Geralt of Rivia

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There are plenty of RPGs in the world and there are plenty of worlds in the high fantasy genre, but few are as robust and diverse as The Witcher series.  Jam had to miss this week, but Fortengard takes his place to discuss not just the games, but the world of The Witcher and specifically its protagonist Geralt.  Discussions are had on the origins, influences, characters, and of course video games that all stem from a home base in Poland.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 19, 2017 at 11:00 am

GHX Ep. 13: Previously On…

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This week it’s Fred and Trees again discussing upcoming game releases, hugely priced deluxe editions, and alternative forms of XP before the show even takes off.  Topics include returning to games after major updates and titles we like to watch played instead of play ourselves.  It all wraps with some insightful “Just Stop!” segments.


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Written by Fred Rojas

July 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

Podcast: Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

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In celebration of Spider-Man: Homecoming arriving to theaters, Fred and Jam discuss the rocky road of Spider-Man video games.  With humble beginnings on the Atari 2600 as the first comic book video game ever released, ol’ web head would go on to star in games both good and bad.

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Written by Fred Rojas

July 12, 2017 at 11:00 am