There was a time that video-games were intended for (and mostly played by) a very-young audience, and as that audience expanded into teens and adults so did the games, but not in the eyes of parents, teachers and lawmakers.
At the center of the debate on whether or not games should be censored, banned, or destroyed were Mortal Kombat and Night Trap.
I was twelve when Night Trap was released, I also had a SEGA CD and owned Night Trap. I remember it was almost impossible to play, silly, and like a bad B-Movie horror game. There were girls running around a slumber-party atmosphere and one was killed in the shower because I wasn’t very good at it. The point of the game was to save the girls from harm, but if you were too slow, they would be “killed” and you lost the game. There wasn’t graphic-violence per se, but kids watching girls get attacked, stalked, and hunted while jumping around in nighties probably wasn’t appropriate. Don’t forget, there were no ratings yet for games, and no one knew about “Mature Games” or kid friendly games. They were all just stacked together on shelves.
This game became one of the pressure points during the Congressional hearings on violent video games. This game, and a few others that I owned like Lethal Enforcers and Mortal Kombat are the reason we have the ESRB system today.
In the end, back in December 1993 all SEGA CD retail-version of Night Trap was taken off store-shelves from major retailers. Senators Joseph Lieberman (Connecticut) and Herbert H. Kohl (Wisconsin), were the key proponents of the game.
Now times have changed, and with a new system in place to protect children, the original producers of “Night Trap” have launched a $330,000 Kickstarter campaign to fund the re-release of the popular and controversial video game.
The game was produced for approximately $1.5 million and filmed in 1986. It was originally intended for Hasbro’s ControlVision video game platform, but the system was never released and the game never finished. The video footage was eventually purchased by executive producer Tom Zito, and finally released in 1992 by Digital Pictures, a company Zito co-founded, first for the Sega CD console and, in 1994, for the PC and Mac.
“Night Trap” is an interactive horror movie spoof that uses full-motion video to tell a story about a group of girls having a slumber party and becoming the targets of vampire villains. Players set traps in an effort to capture the vampires and save the girls from having their blood sucked. Among other obstacles, the player must know when to activate traps, have the correct color codes for the traps to work properly and accumulate knowledge of the rapidly unfolding story.
The 30-day Kickstarter campaign is offering contributors a variety of rewards, including vintage posters, signed copies of the re-release, limited edition box sets, copies of documents from the congressional hearings and the opportunity to be listed as a producer of the game.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Tom Zito, the original executive producer of “Night Trap” and former CEO of Digital Pictures. “We have had an increasing number of fans contact us about improving and re-releasing the game, so we finally decided to take the first step and raise the funds needed to bring the title back.”