Saturday, 13 September 2014

GROW: Night Trap - 3DO

DeveloperDigital Pictures
PublisherVirgin Interactive
DistributorHasbro Interactive
Release date
  • NA 1994
  • JP June 2
GenreSurvival horror, Interactive movie
ModeSingle player
Review by Clint 'ThoRn' Thornton

FMV (Full Motion Video) is one of the greatest and most beautiful disasters of the early to mid (and even some in the late) 90's.  But just because it was destined for the slaughter house, does not mean at the time it looked to be the 'Way of the Future' and everyone who got to experience it when it first became commercialized in video games couldn't help but be taken in by this 'One Hit Wonder'.

Although Night Trap on the 3DO was released 2 years after it's initial launch on the Sega/Mega CD and most Night Trap enthusiast will take Sega's 16-Bit CD version over other platforms as this holds most nostalgia for them (that includes me), I think the 3DO is by far the most polished version and also offers a few useful additions to enhance the game play like a map of the house in your HUD.  Now....  If you haven't heard of Night Trap then there is something seriously wrong with you,  but I forgive you because now you have and after this review you will want to play it....Maybe,  I probably shouldn't hold my breath on this

Ok, let's get started on the undisputed champion of interactive FMV games and let's play some Night Trap!

SCAT (Special Control Attack Team) agent Kelli Medd (Dana Plato) has gone undercover in to the home of the Martin family with a group of innocent girls for a slumber party invited by the daughter of Mr and Mrs Martin.  She has been sent there to investigate the disappearance of 5 other girls who previously stayed at the house as well as looking in to some other 'odd' occurrences that have been happening on the property.  Your job is to follow the girls around the house using a series of cameras and traps that have been set up in each room and and hopefully uncover the mystery of the missing girls whilst protecting the the ones currently in the house.  As the evening progresses you realize you are up against a vampiric group called 'Augers' who have one thing on their mind, attack and capture.  I don't want to give the ending away as I would prefer you to experience the game for yourself if you have not already done so.

You are referred to as 'Control' in this game and this is exactly your purpose.  As stated before you control all of the cameras and traps throughout the house and using the HUD on the screen you have a meter which starts to spike and at the right moment when you have an Auger or two on screen and your meter peaks you hit a button to release a trap and capture the intruder(s).  Now, the concept is easy but the execution is a challenge as you don't actually receive any information telling you when an Auger is approaching in another room that you are not currently watching.  This is where the challenge lies as you are essentially required to use a pen and paper to help with your on-screen interactions writing down the times and the rooms when an Auger enters the house.  Well that's what I did when I played this game back in the 90's.  Although there is a story you can follow, if you choose to follow each character from room to room you will be watching your little Auger capture meter climb higher and higher on all the intruders you have missed as they will all enter the house through a vacant room and that is usually when you need to capture them.  Now to make things even more interesting you will find each trap is locked by a color access code which throughout the game needs to be changed so you still have control of the traps.  But to know which color code you require you need to know when a member of the family is talking about it so you can hear what color it is.  So let's recap quickly....  Most of the time if you follow the family members (or sometimes the girls and boys) you will get to follow the story but you wont be capturing many Augers and you need to capture a certain amount to continue on with the game.  If you try to continuously scan each room looking for the Augers you will get the chance to capture them but you will also be risking missing out on hearing the next access code color to control the traps as well as missing out on the plot of the story.  Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Controls are very straight forward in Night Trap as you basically use your control pad to move from room to room, using one button to enter that room, using another to set the traps and a 3rd to change the access code color.  Using the start/pause button is also a necessity in this game as it will pause time but still allow you to change from room to room.  And if you use a pen and pad like a did it will also give you the opportunity to look at your notes so you know what room and at what time you will be capturing your next Auger.
The infamous scene which sparked controversy all over the world

When it comes to FMV games there is not really much depth when it comes to discussing the graphical and audio highs and lows.  The game itself has been filmed to feel like a horror/thriller movie, well like your typical cheesy 80's horror movie (but we all know the best horror movies came out of the 80's).  Using the hardware of the 3DO the video footage is very clear and uses most of the screen except for your HUD down the bottom.  The sound effects and music are all of good stereo quality but there really isn't too much more to look in to.  Overall I would say it's of VHS standard and considering that was the video format of the time and also what format this game was originally supposed to be released as, you really can't find any negatives in this part of the game.

Night Trap is a bit of a cult classic these days and even though the depth of the game play isn't much deeper than the kiddies pool at your local aquatics center it's regarded as on the pioneers of 'violence in video games' which is one of the big reasons it holds its cult status.  But that's not what draws me in to this game.  It's very much a nostalgic game for me as my memories are playing it at my friends house (you know, the kid who lived down the road and had everything) working as a team moving around from room to room whilst taking all these notes....  And speaking of notes, the reason why I decided to write this article is because I found something from those days and thought I would share it with you all.  From memory I would have taken these notes in 1995.
My notes as a 12 year old
I found the times and rooms up to the 27 minute mark and compared them to all the walkthroughs that are available these days and I have to admit, we did very well and were pretty accurate capturing everything considering we were only 12 and 13.  Although I did notice I spelt 'Entry Way' as 'Enter Way' and 'Upstairs' as 'Upstars' :)

It really is hard to write this article and praise it like I do with the other games I review, but I have also told myself to only review games that I think are good and worthy of being reviewed in a positive light.  So how do I justify it?  Well I can't, but I think that is the charm of Night Trap and the hold it has on me and many others out there.

Not all games have to be 10 out of 10.  Not all games have to hold up over time.  Sometimes you can't really explain it, but then again why should you.  It doesn't matter what the game is and how other people look at it.  It's about how that game makes you feel, how that game puts a smile on your face when those old memories come back and how as time goes on we will always have those moments and they can never be taken away.

Until next time...  Stay Retro!

1 comment:

  1. Great review Clint. I've never played Night Trap, but you hear about that game everywhere, so I guess I'll have to try it some time :-)