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NiGHTS into Dreams Review

by Diogo Miguel October 5, 2012

It’s only taken sixteen years but the combined forces of NiGHTS fans and their overlords TRiPPY and DiGi Valentine have accomplished the impossible. NiGHTS into Dreams was and still is one of the Sega Saturn’s most beloved titles. Fans have been waiting for a HD port and Sega has finally caved. But is this HD port worth the wait or has it turned NiGHTS into nightmares.

The story behind NiGHTS is pretty straightforward. Two children find themselves dreaming about a world invaded by the nightmarish Wizeman and his army.

It’s then up to Elliot and Claris to team up with NiGHTS and defeat each of Wizeman’s generals. This all culminates in a fight with Wizeman himself. NiGHTS is one of Wizeman’s generals , but he decided to rebel. NiGHTS also just happens to be an excellent an excellent acrobat. It’s when NiGHTS combines powers with one of the children that the adventure begins.

This dream reality makes it possible for the developers to go wild when it comes to design ideas. The laws of gravity don’t apply to NiGHTS. Floating balls of water populate the lush Splash Garden level. The environment literally moves whenever NiGHTS gets close to it in the Soft Museum level.

To state that NiGHTS is still a treat to the eyes and mind, after all these years, is an understatement. The various unique design ideas for each levels ensure that it still feels relevant today.

NiGHTS HD also benefits from a fairly improved control scheme. The use of the 360’s analogue stick makes it extremely easy to control Nights. This is especially true when attempting the various acrobatic moves. The whole point of NiGHTS is to try and build up link combos. This is done by touching certain objects. such as stars, or going through certain rings. It’s necessary to do it quickly and that is where the excellent control scheme kicks in.

Those not familiar with NiGHTS Into Dreams will wonder why they should play it. This is a fairly short game in the traditional sense. It will only take a couple of hours to get through all dream levels.

However, the real fun comes from trying to improve high scores. It’s now even better due to the inclusion of online leader boards. Each dream levels is designed so that the player will find new ways to improve scores with each new trip. Levels are split up into four different laps and players are scored for each one. There is a time limit for each lap, so the player must complete it quickly, or face temporarily losing control of NiGHTS. Those that have a competitive streak are in for a treat. Getting high scores in NiGHTS is all about taking risks since the lap score is reset if the timer run out.

The goal for each dream levels is to collect enough glowing balls to destroy an Ideya Capture. There are 4 of these captures to destroy. Ideya are the physical representations of traits that each character needs to defeat the general for each dream levels.

NiGHTS was revolutionary back when it first came out. The unique visuals and way it was played ensured it was years ahead of the competition. It would make sense if it didn’t look as impressive after so many years though. But surprisingly enough, it is still looking very nice in HD. But those eager to play the original are in luck as it’s included.

NiGHTS still has the same visuals that made fans so patient for this HD version to come out. However, they have been spruced up to ensure that environment and characters don’t look dated.

It definitely helps that the visuals still feel unique compared to similar modern video-games. Anyone new to NiGHTS is in for a treat.

The adventures with NiGHTS in Nightopia don’t end after completing the main story. There is much to unlock by earning better scores and playing through both stories. Those interested in seeing the ideas behind NiGHTS will eagerly look at art work unlocked in a Presents menu.

The mention of presents brings up memories of playing the special Christmas NiGHTS version. This short but delightful one level trip is included in this version. Factoring in such extras ensures that those not overly interested in scores can still enjoy NiGHTS.

It’s also worth playing NiGHTS for the story alone. Telling a story properly is hard enough and to do it without dialogue is an impressive feat. That is exactly what Sonic Team did with NiGHTS. This is a moving story about teenage growing pains that is shown via a handful of short cut scenes. It’s difficult to convey emotion with only computer generated visuals, but Sonic Team managed it. Anyone not touched by the ending for each character should audition for the next Terminator film.

Accompanying the extremely addictive enjoyable levels is a delightful soundtrack. It’s difficult not to start humming along with the music. Especially since it will most likely make the player feel chirpy. What is so fascinating about the soundtrack for NiGHTS is that music for each level dynamically changes with repeated visits. These changes are based on how the player treats the angel like Pian creatures found within each level. So for example positive actions such as hatching Pian eggs will ensure that the music is even more cheerful. A thoughtful idea that also shows how well integrated the Pian AI system is.

NiGHTS into Dreams is still relevant by today’s standards. It is short but the real reward comes from playing each level repeatedly to try and find all the secrets. It’s also an essential purchase for those that enjoy competing with others by continuously improving level scores. NiGHTS into Dreams is a very enjoyable blast from the past that will make fans smiles, and it;s likely to captivate a whole new generation of dreamers.

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