Accidental history—remastering the campy teen horror game Congress famously hated

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A scene like this doesn’t exactly scream “2017 video game.” And yet…

Night Trap might not seem like a game that would be especially cumbersome to port to modern consoles. Among the first in the oft-forgotten early-’90s trend of “FMV (full motion video) games,” the title was nothing more than a lightly interactive series of pre-recorded videos.

But after years of effort to get the project off the ground, months of coding and delays, and time spent navigating the grueling certification process for modern console launches, independent game designer Tyler Hogle was ready to be done in late summer 2017. Pressing through exhaustion, Hogle’s target release date was days away—but so was the birth of his child. On top of it all, after a last-minute patch to add extra language support, he noticed that he’d accidentally broken his own game and needed a patch out. Fast.

An accidental piece of history

Long before Hogle’s dilemma, the original Night Trap was an unlikely standard-bearer in the debate on violence in video games. Originally filmed in the mid-’80s for Hasbro’s canceled VHS-based NEMO console, Night Trap featured big names of the time including child star Dana Plato (of Diff’rent Strokes fame). By the early ‘90s, though, it had already been delayed and reworked to be a relatively tame riff on teen slasher horror. When the game first hit the Sega CD in 1992, it already looked and felt quite dated. It didn’t help that the Sega CD’s limited hardware struggled to render even a low-resolution, low frame-rate version of the original film—don’t even ask if it responded snappily for the interactive bits.

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