NS Review – Night Trap (Nintendo Switch)

“Let me say for the record I want to state that Night Trap will never appear on a Nintendo System.” – Howard Lincoln (Nintendo President America, 1993)

On August 24th 2018 Digital Pictures along with Screaming Villains released the highly controversial Night Trap for Nintendo Switch, contrary to the pledge by the former Nintendo President. Night Trap along with Mortal Kombat and other games at the time were at the head of a congressional hearing in the early 90’s that gave birth to the age ratings boards we know today. PEGI and the ESRB all owe their roots to this hearing and in a way Night Trap has carved a legacy for itself.

In Night Trap, Teenagers have been disappearing at a remote house location that is outfitted with a surveillance system and comical style traps. The player is part of the SCAT (Special Control Attack Team) a group of operatives responsible for ensuring the safety of a group of teenagers visiting the home by utilising the cameras and the traps to keep the girls safe from a mysterious group of invaders called the “Augers” while also using the cameras to understand the larger mysteries of the home.

During the game, while trying to follow the central narrative the player’s attention will constantly be divided between keeping the group of teenagers safe from attack and scanning the home for “Augers” trying to sneak around. Game over comes frequently and fast and the criteria for counts as a fail state is somewhat arbitrary with it not being clear at times how a loss could’ve been avoided.

The game is like a cheesy 90’s horror with the set up being very cliche, group of teens at a remote home being attacked by creatures. There’s a party, there’s a love story and even an attack on a girl in the shower. All the hallmarks are there and it leads to a delightfully silly game with a cast of over the top teen characters that are engaging enough that you want to discover the larger plot that the house and it’s inhabitants are hiding.

When it originally released in 1992, Night Trap ran into some controversy due to a scene in the game where one of the female characters is attacked in a bathroom while wearing a nightdress. During a 1993 US congressional hearing, lawmakers showed this section and claimed that Night Trap was sick filth that was corrupting young minds and training them how to entrap women. The goal of part of the game is to save the woman from “Augers” attacking her and failing to do so results in a game over. However, at the time realistic depictions of violence like this had never been seen before and the blowback from it resulted in an initial ban in sales of the game and the implementation of the ESRB.

The Nintendo Switch re-release of Night Trap comes with fully restored and upscaled footage of the 1992 game with a slew of other goodies including multiple UI layouts, options to play in an easier modern mode which allows you to effectively view all camera feeds simultaneously (don’t worry die-hards, classic mode is also available) along with a full theatre mode allowing you to watch all cutscenes in the game, making of documentary and even an unreleased prototype of the game called “Scene of the Crime.”

The Nintendo Switch re-release of Night Trap developed by Screaming Villains is a lovingly restored version of a trailblazing FMV classic. The definitive Night Trap experience that makes the progenitor of games like Five Nights At Freddy’s available to play in the modern age. Night Trap is great fun and engaging FMV gameplay that despite feeling a bit unfair at times is still very well worth your time.

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