Retro Reviews: Night Trap

Another Sunday afternoon reminiscing about those pearls of gaming history we knew and loved. I suppose for a lot of you this is the first time you’ve heard of this game but for some of us this week’s Retro Review by TSA member LiquescentShadow is another cheery amble down memory lane.

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Game Reviewed: Night Trap
Reviewed Platform: Sega Mega-CD
Release Year: 1993

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A group of girls are staying at Mr & Mrs Martin’s house for a sleepover, but this is no ordinary house – some of the girls who have stayed before went missing. As part of the Sega Control Attack Team, it is your job to monitor all the rooms of the house during the sleepover to find out what is going on. As the night begins, the ‘Auger’ (vampiric baddies) invade the house, and it is your job to catch them using the traps built into the house.

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The basic premise of Night Trap is to spring traps at the right time to catch the Augers which invade the house during the night, and because of this there aren’t any button mashing or intense sequences to deal with. It’s pretty much just a simple horror strategy game, where you must assess your priorities and make choices accordingly.

Catching augers is a pretty simple affair to begin with – at the bottom of the screen there’s a bar which tells you the right time to spring a trap. When the bar reaches the red, it’s a case of just pressing a button and watching the Auger(s) be caught in a number of hilarious ways, whether it’s a trap door in the floor, moving bookcase or spring which removes the baddies from the vicinity. You can switch which room you’re viewing at any time, and there’s a floor plan you can access which you can use to track which rooms the Augers are heading for (e.g. if an Auger leaves the bedroom, you know it’s either going to be in the hallway or bathroom). However, after a few minutes catching the Augers gets a bit trickier. As is explained in the beginning sequence, the traps only work if you have the correct colour access code selected. The people in the house are free to change the access code at any time so it’s essential to listen in on specific conversations so that you can hear whether they’re going to change the code and, if so, what they’re changing it to. Missing one of these will mean that you’re no longer able to spring the traps and letting too many of the Augers get away will mean that the game is over. Game-overs can also be caused by the capture of specific house occupants, or if one of the characters breaks your connection to the house security system.

This is really where the strategy comes in, as you have to decide on what action you should take next. You might decide to watch the occupants on the off chance that code-changing is discussed, at the cost of missing a few Augers you could have captured. The game rewards multiple play-throughs as the story plays out the same each time, so you know what to expect and can be ready to capture the Augers at the right places at the right time.

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There’s not much going on here graphically speaking, due to the fact that the story unfolds through a series of live-action cut-scenes. The cut-scenes aren’t of fantastic quality and are quite grainy, but are good enough to see what’s going on and allow you to spring your traps at the right time. The acting in the cut-scenes isn’t exactly blockbuster film standard either, but the awkward performances and extreme cheesiness are good for a bit of a chuckle.

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There won’t be any synthesised sound effects to be found in this game, only live dialog spoken by the actors. The quality of this isn’t that bad really and it’s clear enough to hear what you need to without having too much trouble. There’s a bit of horror-style music that starts whenever you see the Augers, but it’s not really that atmospheric and doesn’t add much to the experience.

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In all honesty, Night Trap isn’t going to win any awards. However, it’s a pretty unique game released for a console which saw a very limited life. If you want to, and have a bit of time to spare, then it’s worth a play or two just to experience it. It’s definitely not going to scare you but it’s an intriguing game which you’ll probably get a few laughs out of, especially if you play it with a few mates.

5/10

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