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Being the hero is so dull. I mean... it's always the same: Grab your sword, run to the castle of evil, fight against the boss, easily beat him, save the world, everybody loves you, right?

Well, perhaps it's time to play from another angle. After all, playing for the other team has its benefits, too.

In 1996, for the Sony Play Station, Tecmo released Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness, which, while not a smash success by any stretch of the imagination, allowed the player to do something not often seen in video games: play as the bad guy. The goal of the story was to resurrect Satan, and instead of doing so with direct combat, you utilized a series of deadly traps that you placed throughout your castle. The game did well enough to spark a small series, although nothing new has been announced as of this time.

The series in general follow the same patron, with you having to protect your castle for one reason or another, with Death Trap and gizmos. The biggest selling points in general is the same: play from an unusual point of view (the Trap Master) and kill your enemies in goresome ways. In most of them you are plain evil, but some of them try leave you in a more ambiguous position, where it's not clearly which side is the good one. This actually makes the experience stronger, as one is not sure if what you are doing is right or wrong.

The Deception games consist of:

  1. Tecmo's Deception: Invitation to Darkness (Kokumeikan) -- Released in July, 1996. As a nameless prince of Zemekia, the player has been framed for the murder of the king by his brother Yurias in a bid for the throne, and he is spirited away by a demoness named Astarte to make a Deal with the Devil to get his revenge.
  1. Kagero: Deception II (Kagero: Kokumeikan Shinsho) -- Released in July, 1998. A girl named Millennia is caught up as a Meat Puppet in a power struggle between the Timenoids and the humans over whom they reign.
  1. Deception III: Dark Delusion (Soumatou) -- Released in December, 1999. A girl named Reina has been abducted, along with her family, to be sold into slavery in a neighboring kingdom. She is freed by a rebel faction and must decide whose side she is on.
  1. Trapt (Kagero II: Dark Illusion) -- Released in June, 2005. Princess Allura has been framed for the murder of her father and flees to a dark castle to escape execution, and while there, a demon offers her a chance for revenge.
Tropes used in Deception include:
  • Action Girl: Curiously, female PCs outnumber the males three to one.
  • Aerith and Bob: While some characters have normal names, such as Gordon, the series also has some truly ridiculous names, such as Goatbone, Scuba, Loongear, and others, too numerous to list.
  • An Adventurer Is You: Or rather, the invaders are adventurers. Each game in the series has a different set of classes the invaders can be comprised of, each of whom have different attacks and react to traps in their own ways.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Allura can unlock costumes that let her dress as Millennia and Reina.
  • Antiheroic Mime: The player-character in Invitation to Darkness, Millennia.
  • The Atoner: Possible for the player, if the correct Dialogue Trees and courses of action are so chosen throughout the games.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The Red Dragon summoned monster. It does tremendous damage to multiple foes, but it's so large that it usually cannot fit into rooms in the castle, plus one of its components is rare.
  • The Backwards R: The cover art spells the fourth game's title as TЯAPT.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Inverted; these guys (generally) are your enemies.
  • Black Magician Girl: Astarte.
  • Blind Idiot Translation
  • Blue Blood: Both literally and figuratively in Kagero. The Timenoids are a race of beings with blue skin who rule over humans.
  • Bonus Boss: Pretty much any gaiden character in Trapt, but especially the final bosses of each path: Millennia (trap-tripper) and Kendal (creates illusions), each more inexplicable than the last. (That last one is very "Congratulations"-y.)
  • Burn the Witch: Invitation to Darkness starts with the player-character being burned at the stake for murdering his father.
  • Came Back Wrong: Fiana if Wizbone kills her and you accept Astarte's offer.
  • The Cameo: Suezo from Monster Rancher appears in Kagero as an unlockable trap. Previously, Ardebaran from Invitation to Darkness appeared in a Monster Rancher game as a secret monster.
  • Cast From Lifespan: In Deception III, this is the price for using traps too much--you'll wind up killing yourself eventually. Unfortunately Reina doesn't have any choice because a whole lot of people keep trying to kill her.
  • Charge Meter: Traps in the sequels must recharge between uses, but can otherwise by used indefinitely.
  • Combos: Introduced to the series in Kagero to fantastic effect. Chain together more traps and receive more points.
  • Content Warnings: Invitation to Darkness only garnered a T rating from the ESRB, but it includes a separate blurb on the jewel case noting the satanic elements of the storyline.
  • Continuity Nod: Each game takes place in its own little universe. However, one of Kagero's endings implies that Millennia would go on to become Astarte. Also, Ardebaran's mask appears in Kagero as an unlockable trap.
  • Costume Copycat: A lookalike of Fiana is brought in to try and reason with you, but it turns out to be a trap. Subverted in that you can check your map, see the trap ahead of time and disable it.
  • Damage Discrimination: Averted; you can get caught in your own traps or by environmental objects if you're not paying attention.
  • Death Trap: The entire point of the series.
  • Dolled-Up Installment: They were only a "series" in the loosest sense in Japan. In the US, they're a consistently named series... up until Kagero 2, which was the first straight-out sequel in Japan.
  • Dub Subtitle Name Change: The change from "Alicia" to "Allura" was strictly in the text. The voice acting still very obviously uses "Alicia".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Invitiation to Darkness is almost completely different from its successors, and it made use of gouraud-shaded, Super-Deformed polygons similar to Final Fantasy VII while the sequels would opt to go with straight texture-mapping and proportions.
  • Easter Egg: Rename Millennia "Astarte" and you start with some extra Ark to spend.
  • Enemy Scan: Each game lets you check out the statistics of invaders before you enter into combat with them.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Fiana and Princess Alicia Allura.
  • The Evil Prince: Yurias.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Several, notably Zamur in Invitation to Darkness and Deadmoon in Kagero.
  • Evolving Trap: They merely get stronger and more durable in earlier games, but later on, you can add special effects to them as well. Monsters in Invitation To Darkness can level up, too.
  • Fun with Acronyms: For whatever reason, "Timenoid" is shortened down to "TMD". "AUO" in Dark Delusion stands for Alendar Umbral Operations, although this is never mentioned in the game.
  • Genre Shift: First-person RPG for the first game to third-person action-RPG for the sequels.
  • Green Lantern Ring: The magical stone which allows Reina to control traps in Dark Delusion.
  • Heal Thyself: Special gem-like "loons" can restore the player-character's health to full once per chapter in the sequels. Invitation to Darkness uses more traditional medical herbs and antidotes.
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: Reina, who can be renamed (like every game's protagonist), is referred to exclusively in chapter summary screens as "the heroine". This is in text, mind you.
  • Hide Your Children: Averted. The Psychic class of invader is made up of young girls, and Reina's little brother is murdered by Miguel during a Fade to Black moment.
  • Human Resources: Used in Invitation to Darkness either to collect gold, restore the Mana Meter, or to harvest the actual bodies to create monsters.
  • Identical Grandson: The player-character in Invitation to Darkness shares ancestry and the same name with one of the Legendary Braves.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: You can add rooms to the Castle of the Damned in the first game, though you cannot subtract any that were there from the start.
  • Insistent Terminology: The third game always refers to TRA Ps in all capitals, for some reason.
  • The Joys of Torturing Mooks
  • Kill It with Fire: It helps if you douse the invader with oil first.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading
  • Made a Slave: Millennia; was supposed to happen to Reina and her family, but her mother and brother were murdered, and Reina herself was rescued from prison.
  • Malevolent Architecture
  • Monster Clown: One of these is responsible for kidnapping Millennia as a child and taking her to the Timenoids.
  • Most Definitely Not an Impostor: 3 and TRAPT both include some schmo-ette pretending to be the evil queen, seeking your help. Fails the smell-test both times, not that that means you can't accept.
  • Multiple Endings: Never fewer than three, for all four games.
  • New Game+
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Trapt is the worst offender, but if it wasn't for the numbering in the first three, few people would know they were related at first glance.
  • Perverse Puppet: Magic Dolls.
  • Played for Laughs: Some of the traps cause comedic effects, such as a vase falling on someone's head or a rotating floor that throws off their balance.
  • Plot Coupon: The five six demonic artifacts needed to resurrect the Devil.
  • Power Tattoo: The one on Millennia's back.
  • Puzzle Boss: Expert Mode in Dark Delusion.
  • Repeat Cut: Brief instant replays of the moment a trap connects with an invader; they can be switched on or off.
  • Say My Name: "Marco? Marco?! Marco! MARCO!"
    • POLO!
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: And you're the one working to break said seal.
  • Spoiler Opening: Of a sort. Invitation to Darkness' manual spoils that Fiana can be used as a monster.
  • Standard Status Effects
  • Supernatural Elite: In the second game, humans are basically second-class to a nobility consisting of 'Timenoids' - blue-skinned immortals. As the player, you are initially a slave to the Timenoids, but eventually, you must decide whether to help them brutally suppress an emerging human uprising, help La Résistance destroy the Timenoid elite, or just Kill'Em All.
  • Suicidal Overconfidence: Played straight with most invaders, but a few will realize what they're up against and make efforts to escape. Whether they succeed or not can possibly change the storyline.
  • Summon Magic: Only available in Invitation to Darkness, the player-character can call forth special monsters which damage invaders. What's scary is that one of them is possibly Princess Fiana depending on how you play.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Even when they're out for your blood, when an enemy invader finds you, time will gladly stop around you to give them a chance to say what they need to.
  • A Taste of Power: The first game lets you utilize Volt Cages to capture Ardebaran and Idorigo (and optionally Doneal). You don't get access to such traps again until Chapter 10, and even then you have to spend gold to create new ones.
  • Timed Mission: Several chapters throughout the series.
  • Too Long; Didn't Dub: "Kagero", which means "mirage".
  • Toplessness From the Back: The title screen of the second game.
  • Training Dummy: The hapless invader in Dark Delusion's Free Training Mode.
  • Trap Master: The player characters, and an occasional NPC.
  • Trauma Inn: Subverted in Invitation to Darkness. Yeah, you can build a bedroom and sleep in the bed to recover HP, but you can still get attacked there by invaders.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Typically, it turns out the main character is being manipulated. Often by various sources, to differing ends.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The other entire point of the series.
  • Villain Protagonist: Each and every main character holds an explicitly evil power and spends most of their time ruthlessly slaughtering anybody unlucky enough to enter their homes. Later protagonists end up in a more morally gray area, but none of them are ever close to being heroes.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: The games often go to some bother to make it clear that you're not killing anonymous mooks, but people, with actual names, backstories and personalities. The terrible acting keeps this from having the effect Tecmo was going for, however.
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