Night Trap HD. Again, in case your brain is having trouble accepting those words are real. There is going to be a Night Trap HD. Crazy, right? Despite a failed Kickstarter, most people probably not even knowing what Night Trap is anymore, and the game being a bizarre failure of an experience in the first place, it is still coming back. I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so confused. But, this release also has me thinking. Are we getting to the point at which, not unlike the arenas of film and literature, that niche audiences can be cultivated and sustained for these sorts of products, and not just perverted anime games? This could be the start of something cool.
Think about it. Go on Amazon and you can fall into a rabbit hole of small, boutique releases of obscure horror movies and other genre films. They aren’t just obscure because they’re independent or foreign or something, they’re also movies that would be seen as irredeemable trash if not for the weirdos who buy just enough of them to keep the market alive. These movies are aggressively contrary to cultural consensus on quality standards and yet, you can buy them on Blu-ray with lovably curated special features.
What if we can get to that point with video games? What if Night Trap HD takes off and we continue to get game releases that don’t treat “filth” like classics, but as significant pieces of historical fascination? With companies like Limited Run Games cropping up and seeing success, who can say a tiny run of random old Sega CD games that never impressed anyone can’t pique the curiosity of today’s more analytical gamers?
I get it – games are expensive. But go to a bookstore and you’ll see new releases on the shelf for upwards of thirty to forty dollars and legions of trashy paperbacks for ten or less. We could have something similar with games, but we need to stop calling games that jump out of the gate “bargain bin” fodder, and treating them like potentially interesting, unique experiences. If a game hits Steam for ten or less dollars, the expectation is it’s an indie game that one dude worked on in his spare time. Otherwise, it’s bad, garbage, or whatever hyperbolic dismissal of a game that doesn’t have millions of dollars of polish or pixel graphics. That’s a problem.
Some day, I’d love to be able to walk into a store or check out a boutique online storefront and pick up a copy of like, Pit Fighter, or something like a goofy collection of LJN-developed Marvel Comics games from the 90's. Weird stuff has its place too. You can learn from it, you can appreciate what it does right and you can develop a deeper understanding of your own tastes.
We need to embrace that, because the industry goes closer and closer to either AAA or indie, with nothing in-between. Every now and then something like Night Trap HD happens, and I see a glimmer of something more… complex.