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If Video Game Stories Don't Matter, How Do You Explain Night Trap's 25th Anniversary Edition?

The crown jewel of 90s full motion video games is coming to a platform that doesn’t have to compress video files.

by Zack Kotzer
Apr 25 2017, 7:10pm

A scene from Night Trap. Image: Sony

Twenty-five years ago there was a video game so ambitious, so audacious, so controversial in its time that it went all the way to the United States Senate. It was one of the first games to be so publicly chastised due to its content, it paved the way for the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB, which evaluates what games are appropriate for what ages. An important piece of history, nevermind interactive storytelling. So if plots in video games are so worthless, as Ian Bogost at The Atlantic argued today, then tell me, Mr. Bogost, why is PlayStation releasing a remastered version of Night Trap?

Check.

Mate.

One of the most illustrious games of the Sega CD and easily the most well known of the maligned 'full motion video' games, Night Trap follows the Sega Control Attack Team (or, uh, SCAT for short) as they monitor and defend a bodaciously 90s sleepover party being attacked by slowly lurching vampires. It's important you know that they are undead ghouls and not ninjas or members of one of those black-light puppeteering groups, which you might have assumed otherwise.

To protect those wily teens from vampiric rituals, you have to "trap" the demons throughout the house. Switching from security camera to security camera, waiting for the moment they step close to a fake wall or trap door, all filled with purple light and glorious fog. It plays like an obtuse version of Five Nights at Freddy's, except with a theme song sequence that freezes the controls so you can appreciate it in full, thereby making the game unwinnable. That theme can be downloaded on the remastered game's site.

A Kickstarter for an HD remaster failed in 2014, but the underdog FMV genre is having a bit of a moment, spurred initially by the success of games like Her Story. Perhaps that's why the game we deserve, if not willing to crowdsource, is being brought to the PlayStation 4, a console that doesn't have to compress video files into annihilation. Even with major Hollywood talents backing the 90s FMV craze, the games largely exist as embarrassing relics. Maybe the modern gaming world can do them justice. Perhaps the plot-driven, TV-actor fuelled genre failed to impress in the 90s, but the sophisticated game laureate in 2017 should know that these stories are as essential as vampires with long grabby arm things tip-toeing around looking for someone, anyone, in a crop top.

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