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How ‘Bout that Full Motion Video? Night Trap is Coming Back

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The polarizing early 90’s title, Night Trap, is set to make a return in the near future. CVG tweeted early this morning on the matter, stating that the news comes revealed through a closed group on Facebook, administrated by James Riley, the co-creators.

James is reported to be pushing for a comeback of the game for quite sometime for its significance in the gaming industry.  The game had a very polarizing reception in the early 90’s, while many praised the unique gameplay characteristics while others saw it insulting and highly suggestive of violent content.

The history is as follows. At the dawning of the 1990’s, video game designers, developers, and companies, were exploring new ways to portray their experience. B-bit visuals became 16 bit- sprites. Limited 3-D effects were implemented and sounds became mixed with more clarity through MIDI formats.

Inevitably, the compact disc was explored and games soon were imprinted onto discs. This allowed for the first ever Full Motion Video, or more popularly known as FMV. One of the first games to use this, was Night Trap. As history would have it, Night Trap would hold a very controversial yet significant place in the field of video games.

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Night Trap featured you on the Special Control Squad. You were to monitor a slumber party, hosted by a large group of girls, and protect them from Augers, a group of vampire-like creatures that, in the game, really just looks like silly ninjas with Ghostbusters tech. The Augers would come after the girls in their home and capture them. As a member of the squad, you used the controller to search for potential Auger threats through secretly placed cameras. When one was spotted, you used a code to activate a trap.

The catch was that game would always continuously move forward. There were no reversals or second-chances. Once a girl was taken, they wouldn’t come back. In ways, you were an investigator and had to listen to conversations for moments of what was about to happen.  If too many girls got taken, it was game over. It required keen listening and repeat game play, especially as the moments constantly changed.

ERM ER GERD! NERT TERROR!
ERM ER GERD! NERT TERROR!

For this reason, the game is seen as a technological benchmark and a gameplay milestone. Some of these elements to story-telling are still seen today in RPG’s such as Deus Ex and Mass Effect. Make one choice and make it well because after it’s made, there is no going back. However, this didn’t sit well with members of the United States Government. The game featured no blood, gore, limb severing, or sexual exploitation, which is commonly seen today. However, the premise, the execution, and the full-motion footage depicting a real abduction was enough for the game to be pulled from store shelves.

Night Trap wasn’t alone in this. Other games were subsequently exploiting very violent content. Some of the biggest names in this situation included Mortal Kombat, Wolfenstein 3-D, and DOOM for using excessive amounts of blood, guts, and gore, in all of their pixelated glory. The  U.S Government got the big names in video games at the time, namely Nintendo and SEGA,  to discuss this issue. After some time, the Electronic Ratings Safety Board was established, or what is popularly known today as the ESRB. The rating system was put into effect in 1994 and continues to this day.

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James has confirmed it will come back. Whether it will be a simple HD remastering of the original or a full-fledged new build of the original game with new elements remains to be seen. But there have been interested parties, according to his statement.

Keep an eye on this one in the future. And remember, the next time you pick up any new video game, and you see that little black-and-white letter on the lower left hand corner of the boxart, just take a moment and remember where it all started with Night Trap

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Growing up on the shores of Long Branch, Roberto has developed quite a few skills in the field of radio broadcasting, writing, blogging, and photography.