The unappreciated depth and secrets of Night Trap

Probably the most infamous FMV game ever made, Night Trap is part of the reason the video game rating system as we know it exists. Infamously used as part of Nintendo’s arsenal during the Senate hearings on violence in video games, Night Trap was falsely presented as a game where the player kills hapless girls by luring them to their doom.

It’s also commonly reviled as an awful game, a waste of the Sega CD, and often cited as one o the main examples why FMV games are the worst.

While there’s no secret that Digital Pictures churned out FMV games like candy, in many ways, Night Trap is probably their most replayable title, and has a lot of content that most players will miss… if you know where to look.

I’ve played Night Trap to completion way, way too many times, and I still find hidden secrets to this day.

(Yes, the acting is often awful, but it’s really part of the campy b-movie charm, and it’s hard not to suspect that the actors are in on the joke.)

Unlike Double Switch, which improved the simultaneous-recording-in-every-room system to have different intruder events occur at random(so that it’s never quite the same each time), every playthrough of Night Trap is exactly the same. You have to be at key rooms at the exact time to either get an access code change or protect one of the visitors from dying.

This means there are some cutscenes that are impossible to see in their entirety, as you either have to be away from that room to perform a required task… or you’ll get interrupted while watching it due to the override system.

In addition to the many, many endings(one of which won’t even affect the player immediately), there’s also several events that change depending on if you trigger certain traps… or avoid them entirely.

There’s also a ton of little events that seamlessly transition between scenes.

(These are shown in chronological order, more or less.)

-Sheila arriving with the bottles and then going right into the kitchen.

-When Mike gets captured by the Augers, Danny is in the adjacent room… but doesn’t notice until it’s too late.

-This has a fun payoff later when the Augers are draining Mike in the kitchen… but this time, Danny DOES notice.

Bad move, kiddo.

-The few minutes when all the girls go upstairs has three camera feeds constantly transitioning between them.

-If you trap Weird Eddie when he’s disguised, this prevents Danny from getting attacked afterward, as the scene never happens. The sequence of Eddie getting trapped runs over it, I assume. Maybe in a way, being a jerk saves Danny’s life. (It’s 1:1 the same scene from earlier in the game, anyway.)

-When Tony ‘tries to warn’ Ashley, Kelly rushes over from the second hall, directly transitioning into the bedroom to intervene.

-The Kelly/Mike conversation between Bathroom 2 and the Driveway can be heard from both camera feeds with almost perfect timing.

-Right before Ashley’s attacked, the Augers are busting down the adjacent door with axes.
If Ashley survives, the adjacent hall 2 shows a two second scene of her yelling ‘Thanks!’ before running off.

-When Cindy gets attacked, if you don’t save her, the Augers don’t get her… Jeff does.

This doesn’t trigger an immediate game over. Instead, when the SCAT team confronts the Martins, he appears with Cindy at his side… as a newly embraced vampire. Jeff then kicks the player out of the system, likely thanks to Cindy having told him what’s going on.

This leads to a priceless scene of the Martins kicking you out of the system, while totally ignoring the baffled commander.

-When the SCAT team show up in the endgame, one of them goes upstairs. You have an option of trapping him or letting him escape, but neither affects anything afterward. He’s never seen again.

After this point, the game finally lets you focus on the drama that goes down when the SCAT team confronts the Martins… but if you happen to focus on capturing Augs instead, you’ll find that a lot of the sequences from that point on is unique, and there are also some interesting easter eggs if you keep an eye out.

(More proof that the actors knew what they were doing, and were all in on it.)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could probably do an entirely separate thread on Double Switch(which is even harder to see missable scenes in).

So yeah, despite its infamy, a lot of love and effort went into Night Trap, which is why I think it’s earned its cult classic status.

Hope you enjoyed getting caught in the night.

2 responses to “The unappreciated depth and secrets of Night Trap

  1. I could swear that back in the 90’s there was a movie or TV episode about a serial killer who made a video game like Night Trap that allowed men to design the women being attacked, and targeted jilted men who would recreate the women who dumped them as an outlet, with the “game” then playing out after the killer stalks and abducts the real girls in question and kills them, all the while sending the footage to the player on the pretence that it’s “all a simulation, man!”

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