Full-motion video was a big step forward for games back in the ’90s, and game developers embraced the new technology wholeheartedly … by creating a voyeuristic horror film ripoff about scantily-clad teenage girls being attacked by vampires.
Never say never!
— Limited Run Games (@LimitedRunGames) April 20, 2018
Fast-forward 25 years, and publisher Limited Run games announced on Twitter that the anniversary edition of Night Trap will be available on the Nintendo Switch later this year, despite Nintendo’s vow decades ago that the game would never appear on a Nintendo system. The game is currently available on PlayStation 4 and on PC, and rumors of a sequel have floated around for some time.
Starring Dana Plato of Different Strokes fame and marketed as an interactive movie, Night Trap was released for the Sega CD system in 1992. As a member of the Sega Control Attack Team (or S.C.A.T.), your job was to monitor activities in the house via surveillance cameras and set traps for the various evil vampires trying to invade the house and terrorize the occupants. The game featured varying events depending on which girls you managed to save.
Night Trap was actually filmed five years before its release and created for an unreleased console, but in the 16-bit era, there was simply no way to fit all that data onto a cartridge. It reportedly cost some $1.5 million to make — an unheard-of sum by the standards of the day.
Although incredibly tame by today’s standards, the game caused an uproar among parents and politicians concerned about what these new-fangled video games were doing to the impressionable minds of children. Night Trap, along with Mortal Kombat, prompted Senate hearings that eventually led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB).
Nintendo did demand that Acclaim remove the infamous fatalities from the Super NES version of Mortal Kombat. Sega, which had always marketed itself as the “edgier” company during the console wars of the ‘90s, released an unexpurgated version for Genesis. Nintendo capitulated and Mortal Kombat 2 was released on Super NES, fatalities and all.
“In the past year, some very violent and offensive games have reached the market, and of course I’m speaking about Mortal Kombat and Night Trap,” Nintendo chairman Howard Lincoln told the Senate committee in 1993. “And let me say that for the record, I want to state that Night Trap will never appear on a Nintendo system. Obviously it would not pass our guidelines. This game … which promotes violence against women, simply has no place in our society.”
Night Trap will be available this summer as a digital release from the Switch Shop, as well as a physical copy.