In America, the powers that be have a long and storied history of looking to popular culture as an explanation for violence. One of the first such examples can be seen in 1954 with the Senate Subcommittee Hearings into Juvenile Delinquency. The purpose of these hearings was to shine a light on the biggest reason for juvenile delinquency in America; the dreaded comic book. While they can certainly be viewed as ridiculous in the modern day, these hearings had a long-lasting effect on the medium of comic books.
Then we fast forward to 1993 where the all Seeing Eye turned its gaze toward the video game industry. Surely, this time, the government had found the root cause of all the violence in America. This time it was video games. Previously, the limitations of video game graphics necessitated that "bad guys" were represented in a more abstract way. As video game technology progressed, developers were able to make games wherein the people being shot or blown up looked more and more like humans. Many parents found these games to be quite disturbing and so did the US government. Most specifically there were three games which were the subject of attention due to their violent content.
First of all, there was the release of Mortal Combat onto most home consoles. I would have to imagine that this game needs no formal introduction. Next, there was Lethal Enforcers for the Sega CD. In Lethal Enforcers, you took on the role of a cop and not unlike Duck Hunt you used a light gun to blast away the baddies on screen. Finally, there was Night Trap. Night Trap was an interactive movie released on the Sega CD in 1992 wherein you are tasked with protecting a teenage sleepover from space vampires.
During the hearings, the volume of shade that Nintendo America Chairman, Howard Lincoln threw in the direction of Sega can only be described as herculean. As far as Lincoln was concerned, Sega was slipping razor blades into the collective apple of all children everywhere while Nintendo was free of any and all blame.
Now, Howard Lincoln had a lot to say throughout his testimony in front of the US Senate. However, the most important quote to have in mind is when he emphatically stated, "Night Trap will NEVER appear on a Nintendo system."
Never say never
A lot has changed at Nintendo in the intervening years. They have finally come to acknowledge that adults play video games too (Gasp!). As a result, the reins have been loosened a bit and we are starting to see a bit more adult content on the Nintendo Switch.
Enter Screaming Villains
In 2017 a wonderful little publisher called Screaming Villains dropped a 25th anniversary release of Night Trap. This release brought the game to Steam, PS4, and Xbox. It gave millions of young people the opportunity to play Night Trap and say aloud, "People thought this goofy thing would turn people into murderers?!"
Then, on April 20, 2018 something magical happened. Screaming Villains took to twitter to announce that Night Trap would be coming to the Nintendo Switch this summer. And as if that wasn't enough, they will be teaming with Limited Run games to produce a limited edition physical version for the Switch.
I guess the moral of the story here is that if you're going to make bold unequivocal statements, then you had better find a way to stop the wheels of time. Because there is a distinct possibility that time might make you a liar.
Are you going to pick up a copy of Night Trap for your Switch?
I know I am. I can hardly wait.
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