Why I'm obsessed with... Night Trap

How Admiral Ackbar's favourite video game won one man's heart

This article originally appeared in GamesMaster magazine.

The year of 1993 was a corker. Starwing, Mortal Kombat II and Doom were wowing gamers worldwide, Jurassic Park was a cinema masterpiece and Doink beat Crush at Wrestlemania IX.

Meanwhile, a 10-year-old me had just been bought a Sega Mega CD and was addicted to what I thought was the future of gaming - Night Trap.


Even though many now mock it, at the time Night Trap was a revelation and it's still a game I play on a regular basis to this day because I love what it at least tried to do.
You play as a member of the unfortunately named SCAT (Sega Control Attack Team), who are investigating the old Lake Shore Winery house in which five people disappeared. SCAT has now rigged the house with cameras and booby traps, so it's up to you to keep an eye on a new group of people visting the house for the weekend, and protect them from any dangers they may encounter.
Oh, by the way, the five people are attractive teenage girls having a slumber party, and one of them - Kelly - is a secret agent working for SCAT who's in on it. The house is soon overrun by vampires called Augers, and naturally it turns out the homeowners are vampires too.
The gameplay is as basic as you can get - there are eight rooms in the house and you switch between them, looking for Augers. If you see one, a little bar under the video shows you when they're near a trap - if you press the B button when it turns red you'll catch them, otherwise they'll go free and the danger level in the house raises slightly.

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What made Night Trap so clever was that the game took place in real-time, so different events would be taking place at the same time in different rooms and you'd have to decide which to watch. While you're watching the girls take part in a God-awful singsong in the living room you might not catch the Augers piling in through the bedroom window upstairs. If you're too busy watching the awkward gossip scenes, you might miss an important chat elsewhere in the house in which the residents change the house's security code (the code is changed at various points in the game and if you don't change it too, the traps no longer work and it might as well be game over).
As one of the first live-action video games, Night Trap was hugely controversial, mainly with politicians who had never played it and criticised it for its "sex and violence" (of which it had none, and very little respectively). It eventually led to the ESRB rating system in the US, and was one of the first ever games to get a rating in the UK. It may have been cheesy, it may have even been terrible, but it was ruddy clever too and I adore it to this day.