Night Trap – The Beginning
In 1986 Hasbro were developing their own VHS-based games console called Project NEMO (“Never Even Mentioned Outside”), later renamed Control-Vision. The console was to be billed as a cheaper alternative to rivals Nintendo and Sega. A groundbreaking demo game with parallel storylines was created in order to further push the development of the console.
Produced by Robert Fulop and directed by James Riley, a four minute Full Motion Video Game demo called Scene Of The Crime was made. Shot in a Hillsborough house over a single weekend, the demo shadowed the concept of the Tamara play, with parallel storylines and multiple rooms to view. It was a groundbreaking idea in the realms of gaming. Hasbro seemed happy with the (rather adult orientated) demo and ordered the go-ahead for full titles;
This is great. Now go and make it for kids.
A video clip of the Hasbro executives watching the Project NEMO demo of Scene Of The Crime was a hidden Easter Egg on one of their future games releases. You can see it below;
Three months later, in 1987, with a budget of $1’000’000 and a 250-page script, the first FMV Game was put into production. Shot over a three week period on a soundstage at GMT Studios, California, the game Night Trap (eBay link here) became a reality. The cast and crew shot their scenes, and one by one each scene was reset and shot again with a different outcome. The variation in outcomes would eventually allow the player to interact and choose storylines to follow.
As a member of the Sega Control Attack Team (SCAT), you have control over the CCTV system and a series of traps within a house. The house owners are hosting a second sleepover for their daughter. Mysteriously the girls from the first sleepover disappeared. Amd its your job to monitor the house, find out what happened, and protect the girls.
Night Trap became world-renowned politically, albeit for the wrong reasons. Video game violence was brought to light in Congress as a legitimate debate. But Night Trap was tarnished as a violent and bloody game unfit for children. Although Night Trap was designed predominantly as a fun vampire game, and showed no sex, nudity or violence.
Nevertheless, the debate over game violence caused serious damage to the games industry. And Night Trap is the reason there are now Ratings on all video games. The game was later censored and re-released.
The clapperboards show that Night Trap was filmed in the summer of 1987, over a period of roughly 2 to 3 weeks.
Most interestingly, the controversial Bathroom scene (which isn’t controversial at all, given the hype it gained in US Congress which led to all future games on any console having an Age Rating certificate), seems to have been a night shoot, taking place in the early hours of 4am on Wednesday 29th July 1987. Considering they were shooting the bedroom scenes at mid day the day before and further bathroom scenes at mid day, they either split the shoot with different crews, or worked their butts off to get this in the can!
The final edited product was also dubbed into Japanese, Spanish and French and released in those countries. Later it was ported to the Panasonic 3DO and Sega Saturn games consoles, and re-released as a Directors Cut for the PC and Mac CD-ROM. The Directors Cut has no additional content, other than a different opening titles.