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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

Interview: Screaming Villains Talks Night Trap 25th Anniversary Edition

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It wasn’t an hour after the announcement trailer hit online that I knew I had to talk to people behind Night Trap 25th Anniversary Edition.  Tyler, owner of Screaming Villains (the developer behind this project), was kind enough to sit down and chat with me about the upcoming release.


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Written by Fred Rojas

April 26, 2017 at 10:00 am

The 2017 GH101 Fundraiser 24 Hour Livestream is Archived and Live

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Below is the entire playlist of videos from the livestream, but it would probably be better if you use YouTube for this one. The playlist can be found here. On multi-game streams (there were a few) you can find clickable links to specific starting points for titles.

It’s a self-playing list containing the 21 videos captured during the livestream. Two of the videos: “Fred plays Rock Band 3 with his brother and wife” and “Metroid 2 vs. AM2R” need some edits due to muting thanks to copyright claims, but are totally worth seeing and will be live in the next day or so. They will automatically be added to the playlist.

We are fully funded for 2017 and it’s thanks to all of you! It was a blast and we look forward to doing it again next year. Thanks for all who came out and all that check these videos out. If you would like to make a donation, it’s still not too late! We have a Patreon running with plenty of worthwhile stretch goals here and single donations are always available at bit.ly/gh101donate.

Documentary: Dangerous Games (Night Trap)

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Over the years Fred has collected a lot of limited editions, bonus discs, promo videos, and randomly e-mailed/mailed documentaries and making of videos involving video games.  Well it seems pointless to keep them to himself and since we don’t generate ad revenue we’re betting YouTube may let us release these promotional items.  In a new ongoing series, we will be releasing the many videos made available that you probably won’t be able to get your hands on due to rarity or the disposable promo value of them.  We start today with a pseudo “making of” and “post mortem” on the controversial game Night Trap.  It’s about 8 minutes of Tom Zito, Rob Fulop, and James Riley basically pleading with us about the fun and light heartedness of this game that was targeted by the US Senate.  As a fan of Night Trap, it’s a brief and all smiles look at a game that was touted as much more nefarious than it ever could hope to be.

Written by Fred Rojas

May 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Opinion: Don’t Try to Re-write History With Your Fanboyism

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battletoads

Guys, lets face it, nostalgia is a bitch.  I even wrote an article about this in the past, but beyond my casual forewarning, I would like to extend a realistic look at what is going on today in gaming.  Some big fans are trying to re-write history with how much they love games that, in hindsight, weren’t all that good.  You’ll notice that I said “how much they love games” and “in hindsight”, which I would like to break down.  People who are massive unapologetic fans of fair-to-poor quality games should not be told they are wrong because they aren’t.  Your opinion is your own and without even a discussion you have a right to it, not to mention those that can properly make an argument for why they love a game, but realize your opinion is shrouded in nostalgia or just a lack of basic sense.

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Written by Fred Rojas

May 5, 2015 at 11:43 am

Review: Double Switch (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Not Necessary – Link
Difficulty: Hard
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $2.63 (used), $7.63 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – Sega Saturn, PC/MAC
Digital Release? No

This is the game that brought it all together and proved that not only was a full motion video (FMV) game possible, it could be properly acted with high production values.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure this title completely bombed on the Sega CD, otherwise there wouldn’t be so many freaking copies in the world (both used and sealed).  Despite its commonality, Double Switch is like many other titles in the vast gaming world that starts off solid and becomes a veritable train wreck near the end.  Honestly that’s when its commonality and subsequent low price tag come in to justify the purchase because I still really dig this title.  It’s definitely not without plenty of flaws and if played in long intervals, can easily induce the need to never touch it again.  If you can stomach it, this title does bring with it all the charm of a far-fetched early 90s pop film, which lead Corey Haim should suggest by the very fact he’s cast in the game.  With the proper introduction, Double Switch was a fair follow-up to its much more popular, although purely due to its controversy, older brother Night Trap.

Developer Digital Pictures is solely to blame for the FMV game and it held the most firm grasp and largest library on the Sega CD.  A company that started off as the lead developer for Hasbro’s canceled NEMO game system (that would do basically the same thing with VHS tapes), most of the sales celebrated by the company came from all the controversy of Night Trap.  Even back then there was clear admission that Night Trap was a dated title that lacked almost any interactivity by the player and had terrible acting to boot.  Double Switch, the successor that would follow the same structure without being a true sequel, hoped to address many of these complaints and did a fairly decent job of it.  Unfortunately no one factored in the fact that many gamers thought they would see graphic violence or sexual themes as the sole reason for picking up Night Trap, the return on investment was hardly there.  With what was surely a much higher budget than any similar title at the time, Double Switch was a big gamble that failed and not without good reason.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Great Retro Halloween Games That Aren’t Scary

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Happy Halloween to all of our lovely retro readers.  All month we’ve been chatting about horror gaming, ominous dark rooms, and I’ve been spending one moment in Silent Hill and the next running from the Slenderman.  I thought it might be fun to finally offer some retro Halloween gaming for the timid, nervous, screaming little scaredy cats out there.  Yep, you read that correctly, here’s a list of fun Halloween videos games that aren’t intended to scare you.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 31, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Guilty Pleasure: Night Trap (Sega CD/32X CD/3DO/PC)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD, 32X CD, 3DO, PC
Released: 1992
Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Sega (Sega/Mega-CD, 32X CD), Virgin (3DO), Digital Pictures (PC)
Instruction Manual: Not necessary – Link
Difficulty: Easy
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $25.00-$50.00 (used) $50.00 (new) (pricecharting.com) – Prices for various platforms
Price: $25-$50 (used) N/A (new) on eBay
Digital Release? No

Oh Night Trap, your reputation precedes you.  In actuality this game has received far too much press than it’s probably worth and constitutes an odd sense of rarity about the title.  It’s too bad because had this title fallen into the $5-$10 category that its brethren Sewer Shark, Corpse Killer, and Double Switch dwell, more people would probably appreciate the title.  Unfortunately due to some senate hearings and the fact that this game was alongside Mortal Kombat and Lethal Enforcers for why the ESRB ratings needed to exist in the first place, people think they are going to see some explicit content.  That, friends, is simply not true.  Putting all that publicity aside, there is a meaty cult-style game here that perhaps suffers less than other full motion video (FMV) games.  It’s not great, but it sure is fun to watch at least once.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Video Game Violence Heats Up

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I remember going to the roller skating rink on Thursday nights and even though I was an avid gamer, puberty had started to kick in and girls were much more interesting to me.  That is, until Mortal Kombat.  I had already seen and gotten my butt kicked by most of the Street Fighter II players, but that game was too cartoon-like and I didn’t much care for it.  Mortal Kombat was different.  It had digitized actors playing as each of the fighters, heavy blows to the face would result in large globs of blood spraying across the floor, and I’ll never forget the first time someone won a round with Johnny Cage and the words “Finish Him!” flashed on-screen.  The player walked up to his opponent and did what looked like a complex combination of buttons, the screen darkened, and Johnny Cage straight up punched the guys head off.  Blood erupted from the severed stump while the head bounced on the floor while Johnny Cage put his sunglasses on and struck a pose.  That was my first experience with a “fatality,” which would go on to be one of the most controversial subjects in gaming history.

Senator Joseph Lieberman

In the arcades it was all good and well but once this content hit home consoles in 1992 suddenly governmental groups took notice, namely senators Joe Lieberman (Connecticut) and Herb Kohl (Wisconsin).  They decided that video game companies were pandering violence to children, using these “toys” (game consoles) as the vehicle, and in December 1993 decided to take it to congress.  At that time both Nintendo and Sega had versions of Mortal Kombat on the market, but each had its own way of handling the questionable content.  Nintendo thought it was taking the moral high ground by converting the blood to gray sweat – hardcore SNES players of the time used Game Genie to turn it back to red – and changed the fatalities to bloodless “finishing moves.”  Sega, being the more salacious of the bunch, kept all the violence and fatalities intact on its consoles and instead opted for a code to unlock it – every Sega player remembers “ABACABB” and “DULLARD” for the Genesis as well as “212DU” for Game Gear.  Sega had decided to self-police its titles and implemented a rating system on its games, mostly taking queues from the motion picture industry.  There were 3 ratings: GA (general audiences), MA-13 (parental advisory under 13), and MA-17 (parental advisory under 17).  For one reason or another Mortal Kombat received an MA-13 from Sega.  Not that any of this mattered.

kohl

Senator Kohl

To the senators, changing fatalities were finishing moves didn’t change the fact that Scorpion would still char the opponent to bones.  As for the rating system, especially one that was self-established, it may as well have been a promotional logo.  To further explain their opinions, the senators screened what they claimed was the Sega Genesis version of Mortal Kombat.  Since anyone who played that version knows how rough and fake it looks, they opted to show off the much more crisp and clear arcade version.  Semantics, sure, but still valid.  It’s important to note that Mortal Kombat was not alone in these hearings.  Night Trap, Lethal Enforcers, and Doom shared the spotlight.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 8, 2011 at 2:18 pm