Published on December 18th, 2012 | by Duke0912
Review: NiGHTS into Dreams…
Developer: Sonic Team, Sega Studio China (PlayStation 2 port)
System(s): Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Network, Xbox LIVE Arcade, PC
Release Date(s): July 5, 1996 (Sega Saturn, Japan), August 31, 1996 (Sega Saturn, North America), October 7, 1996 (Sega Saturn, Europe), February 21, 2008 (PlayStation 2, Japan only), October 2, 2012 (PlayStation Network and Microsoft Windows, North America), October 3, 2012 (PlayStation Network, Europe), October 4, 2012 (PlayStation Network, Japan), October 5, 2012 (Xbox LIVE Arcade)
In 1996, Sonic Team introduced us to NiGHTS into Dreams…, a game that was unique for its time with on-rails flight gameplay. However, aside from a sequel released on the Wii and a few cameos, the rebellious Nightmaren hasn’t seen a lot of action. Due to this long absence, many people never got the chance to try the game out. Fast forward to 2012, the game is now available for download with updated visuals, online leaderboards, and more. After over fifteen years, is the game still fun to play?
Like many games today, NiGHTS into Dreams… has a story, but nothing extraordinary. Every night human dreams are played out between two distinct parts of Dream World; Nightopia and Nightmare. Wizeman the Wicked, ruler of Nightmare, wants to take control of Nightopia, and eventually, the real world. He creates an army of Nightmaren, two of which were to serve as his right-hand men, NiGHTS and Reala. However, NiGHTS rebels against Wizeman, and is punished by being imprisoned inside an Ideya Palace. In the real world, Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair, children from the city of Twin Seeds, have nightmares created from their recent failures. They find NiGHTS and learn that Ideyas, spheres that represent dreamers’ personalities, are what Wizeman needs in order to push through into the real world. The trio team up to take back the stolen Ideyas, and put an end to Wizeman the Wicked and his, well, wicked plans. The story is nothing impressive, but in a way, it sets up how the game progresses.
When you first start the game, you have the option to choose from six different dreams, three for Elliot and Claris each, and can play through them in any order. The child will take the form of NiGHTS, and fly around the area collecting blue chips, and once you collect at least twenty, you can acquire an Ideya. Each level is divided into four mares, and once you find an ideya and bring it back to the starting point, you begin the next mare; which changes the layout of the area. You fly around by moving the analog stick, and can perform a drill-dash to speed up so long as there’s energy in the gauge. Each dream has it’s own gimmick to switch things up; ranging from bouncing off of rubber trees, to taking the form of a dolphin to travel under water. The game still controls nice after so many years, and your control always feels responsive and fluid with your inputs.
Every time you complete the four mares in a dream, you enter a boss arena and face off against a level two Nightmaren. Each boss is completely different; one fight has you pushing your enemy to the end of a course in order to crush them, while another has you face off against Reala, who has the same abilities as NiGHTS. At the end of each mare, you’ll receive a grade based on your performance. The four grades you get from the mares, also average out for your final grade, but that can change depending on how quickly you take out the boss. So, if you want to access everything in the game, you’ll need to earn at least C ranks in every dream.
As far as extra content goes, NiGHTS into Dreams… has incentive to beat your rankings, but at the same time, there’s not much. For each child, there is a forth dream which basically ends the story for that character, as well as the overall story of the game once both characters complete it. One thing I found odd though, is that the level is the exact same thing between Elliot and Claris. Even the mare layouts and boss, which is one of the more creative and easier fights in the game, have no differences whatsoever. It just seemed like Sonic Team could have done more with the final stretch of the game, because honestly, it felt anticlimactic.
For the HD version of this game, the visuals got a massive upgrade to have a more modern look. There are some weird textures here and there, but the game looks great overall. However, if you enjoyed the original look of NiGHTS into Dreams…, you can play the game in its original format from the Sega Saturn version. This option doesn’t carry over into everything in the game, but it is nice that it’s included.
Once you complete the game you’ll unlock the expansion know as Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams. This extra content contains two extra dreams based on ones that are found in the original game, with slightly altered mares as well as Christmas themed scenery. This expansion also allows you to view your Nightopians; little creatures who you can collect in dreams, and check out their happiness and where you met them. Christmas isn’t the only holiday represented in the game, and it all depends on the internal clock of your gaming system. For example, say you decided to play the game around Halloween. Every so often, NiGHTS will have an alternate costume to look a little scary, and even Claris will have a witch outfit on for the occasion. The music, which is fantastic by the way, also changes up a bit depending on when you play. In some instances, you may here a completely new track, and though all of these minor differences don’t really affect the gameplay at all, it’s fun to play the game at different times of the year to see what happens.
If you’re even the least bit interested in NiGHTS into Dreams…, I highly recommend downloading the HD port. It may be a short and simplistic game, but it makes up for that with a fun gameplay style, almost perfect controls, and a wonderful soundtrack. Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, which was somewhat of a hassle to get with the original Saturn game, comes free with the download, and who doesn’t like free? It’s nice seeing Sega give their flying purple jester some attention, and I hope to see it in some new adventures sometime in the future.
+ Precise controls
+ Simplistic yet fun gameplay
+ Free expansion that expands the replay value
+ Great sountrack
– Very short story
– Disappointing final dream
Final score: 4.25 out of 5