Night Trap is a full motion video horror adventure game developed by Digital Pictures and published by Sega on October 15, 1992 for the Sega CD. It was published two years later by Sega for the Sega CD 32X, by Virgin Interactive for the 3DO, and by Digital Pictures themselves for MS-DOS and Macintosh systems.
As an operative of the "Special Control Attack Team" (abbreviated to S.C.A.T. and known in Sega-released versions as "Sega Control Attack Team"), players try to protect a group of teenage girls (including S.C.A.T. agent Kelli Medd, played by actress Dana Plato) in a slumber party from vampiric "Auger" creatures using a hacked surveillance system and a variety of inexplicable traps laid throughout the lakehouse.
The game became infamous due to its part (alongside Mortal Kombat, Lethal Enforcers, and Doom) of the 1993 Congressional hearings on offensive video game material, thanks to a wildly inaccurate view of the game in which the player is tasked with either leading innocent teenage girls into death traps or helping the monstrous Augers have their way with the girls. This led to the foundation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
An enhanced version of the game, titled Night Trap: 25th Anniversary Edition, was developed and digitally published by Screaming Villains for the PlayStation 4 and PC on August 15, 2017 (with a Xbox One version released at a later date). Along with an enhanced user interface that shows live feeds from all eight rooms at once, this version includes a bonus "survival mode" which strips the plot for endless swarms of Augers. This version also received a limited retail release by Limited Run., later received a Nintendo Switch port on August 28, 2018, and will receive a port for the Xbox One at a later date.
In Night Trap, players must observe eight rooms in the house (downstairs hallway, kitchen, entryway, living room, bathroom, bedroom, upstairs hallway, and driveway) using hidden surveillance cameras.
The entire game takes place within 26 minutes, in which players must locate and trap the Augers at the right time. When the Augers are near a trap, a meter on the screen (with levels ranging from green to red) will fluctuate. When the meter is red, the trap can be sprung. While not all 95 Augers must be trapped to complete the game, some traps are essential plot points, and failing to activate the traps leads to a game over sequence. Traps can also be used to capture certain other characters at certain moments.
The ability to activate traps is complicated by the codeword system, in which all traps share a unique codeword that changes throughout the game (known through watching certain conversations). If the player uses an incorrect codeword, the traps do not activate.
If the player captures all threats (including all necessary threats and all Augers) while avoiding certain trappings of good guys, the player achieves a perfect ending, in which the player has the option to spring one more trap.
Originally filmed and created in 1987, Night Trap was one of a few games, including eventual Sega CD hit Sewer Shark, developed for an interactive video system called Nemo, created by Tom Zito for Hasbro. When Hasbro canceled the Nemo project, Zito purchased the rights for Night Trap and Sewer Shark back from Hasbro with the hope that they would one day see release.
Years later, Sony would be developing a CD-based addon for Super Nintendo, dubbed Playstation. In search of pre-existing FMV-based games to port to the new system, members of Sony discovered Sewer Shark and wished to license it for the Nintendo Playstation. In response, Tom Zito founded Digital Pictures and worked to port Sewer Shark and Night Trap to the Nintendo add-on, as well as develop all-new FMV-based games.
When Sony's development deal for the Super Nintendo add-on fell apart, Sony struck up a partnership with Sega to release the games for the upcoming Sega Genesis CD add-on, Sega CD, instead. Tom Zito would later express minor disappointment with the change, as the Sega Genesis' limitation of only showing 64 colors on screen at one time severely degraded the video quality over the Super Nintendo, which was capable of displaying up to 256 colors on screen at once.