NiGHTS Into Dreams Review
In some ways this new version of NiGHTS shouldn’t even exist. The original game may have been lauded as one of the Saturn’s most creative titles, but it certainly didn’t shift units the same way Sonic did.
It’s enjoyable Wii sequel, NiGHTS: Journey Of Dreams fared little better, while Sega’s excellent PS2 remake didn’t even make its way outside of Japan. Surely that’s all the proof needed to realise that NiGHTS is a dead franchise?
Sega USA (who handles all of Sega’s digital updates) clearly didn’t get the memo, as it has just unleashed a superb version of NiGHTS at a highly attractive price point. Clearly based on the impressive PS2 version, this is a fantastic package that effectively offers you two games for your money, as the original Sega Saturn version is also included in the deal.
NiGHTS Into Dreams comes from a time where games expected you to experiment and discover things for yourself, instead of simply leading you by the hand. As a result, those new to the NiGHTS universe may simply race through a stage (which is fun in itself) finish with a D ranking then struggle to understand what they’re doing wrong.
The crux of NiGHTS revolves around chasing high scores, and it’s done in a way that offers a surprising amount of strategy. NiGHTS’ seven stages are called dreams and are shared between two children, Claris and Elliot.
Those of a certain age will remember Christmas NiGHTS, and probably weep with joy.
At the beginning of each Dream, which is divided into four sub stages and a boss fight, your selected child’s Ideya (representing Intelligence, Purity, Hope and Growth) are stolen and you must regain them by overloading the Ideya Capture found on each sub stage.
Ideya are overloaded by collecting 20 chips, which are spread throughout each stage. While it’s possible for Claris and Elliot to collect chips themselves, it becomes a lot easier when you control NiGHTS, who is gifted with the power of flight.
Once 20 chips have been collected all future chips turn gold, which offer even higher bonuses when collected. Grabbing chips, stars, killing enemies and flying through the many orange rings found on each stage will trigger a combo mechanic called linking.
Needless to say, the more links you collect in a single chain, the higher your final score and grading will be. Fine, except you’re doing all this against an extremely tight two-minute time limit, meaning that NiGHTS becomes a great game of risk verses reward.
Even if you never master NiGHTS clever scoring mechanics, it’s hard not to be impressed with Sonic Team’s imaginative game, mainly because it remains so much fun to play. While it appears to be 3D, NiGHTS’ action takes place on a 2D plane, with camera angles giving the impression of a vibrant 3D world. It’s a clever move on Sega’s part as it allows you to simply concentrate on NiGHTS’ sublime controls.
NiGHTS was originally built around the Saturn’s new 3D controller and it shows in every small loop and movement you make. It’s sounds clichéd, but NiGHTS really does give you the impression of flying, so much freedom does it offer, as you gracefully fly around the beautifully constructed worlds.
Lead designer, Takashi Iizuka studied all aspects of dreams (including those of his staff) while creating NiGHTS and it really does show in the final product. A lot of NiGHTS really doesn’t make sense – one minute you’re riding on a Toboggan, the next you’re bouncing off mattresses, or getting shot through cannons.
Yes somehow this randomness works,creating a beautifully surreal game that’s full of abstract dreamlike imagery. Coupled by an incredibly uplifting soundtrack, NiGHTS is simply an utter joy to play, and even if you never master it, it’s hard to not to enjoy your time playing it.
A new HD coat brings NiGHTS visuals to life like never before.
Sega obviously feels the same way, because this new update has been handled with deft kid gloves. It’s effectively the PS2 version given a high-definition sheen, meaning you get an excellent new version of the game with remodelled 3D polygons, greatly detailed environments and numerous extras that range from a gallery of promotional art to videos, including an insightful reflection from Iizuka about the game’s original creation.
Christmas NiGHTS is also included, although it does lack the ability to play as Sonic and a smattering of other little extras. There are also numerous subtle differences between the two games, meaning you can’t always pull of the same runs that you can in the Saturn original, but as a near perfect version is included it becomes something of a moot point anyway.
The inclusion of online leaderboards is also a massive bonus, giving high score fans something to continually chase.