Published on October 14th, 2012 | by Shawn Long, Features Editor
NiGHTS into Dreams… HD Review
Developer: Sonic Team
Platform: PSN (Reviewed) on PlayStation 3, Xbox LIVE on Xbox 360, Windows PC
Price: $9.99 or 800 MS Points
Release Date: Oct. 2, 2012
When I was a teenager, I grew up in one of the best times for console gaming. The Nintendo 64, PlayStation and Sega Saturn were all in full swing, and gaming was good. The Nintendo 64 had a flagship title called Super Mario 64, the PlayStation introduced a new character named Crash Bandicoot and the Sega Saturn had Sonic the Hedgehog. Or did it? Actually, Sonic never appeared in a full-fledged platform game for the Sega Saturn (Sonic X-treme was canceled during development), so SEGA didn’t have a real face to match the system to. So what did SEGA do? Instead of its classic mascot, Sonic Team introduced a new character called, NiGHTS, in hopes to gather in new fans for the flailing system.
NiGHTS into Dreams… didn’t explode like Sonic Team wanted it to, but the game sparked a niche fanbase that fell in love with the game, myself included. After a disappointing sequel on the Wii, the true NiGHTS is back and in full HD glory for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Is this a bleak “NiGHT,” or does NiGHTS into Dreams… HD return former glory to the name?
Nights into Dreams… tells a simple story of two characters named Elliot and Claris. Both kids are confronted with situations they feel they cannot handle: Elliot playing basketball with older kids and Claris singing in front of a large audience. At night when they sleep they have nightmares of events in which they escape into the world of Nightopia, where they meet NiGHTS, a jester-like fellow who gives them the courage to confront the nightmare creator Wizeman and find inner strength within themselves to confront their fears and overcome them. Really, the story isn’t the main focus of the game, but it’s actually nice to see something positive in terms of story from a game.
NiGHTS is broken up into seven “dreams,” with three for Elliot and three for Claris. The gameplay basically spearheaded of 2.5D, or isometric, gameplay, i.e. a 3D world that is traversed on a 2D plane. Players control the lavender-garbed NiGHTS, who flies around in four level segments, collecting blue orbs and stars while attempting to unlock four Ideya in the segments. Collect a certain number of blue bulbs, you unlock the Ideya, and move on to the next segment. After completing four of these, you are flung into the boss battle.
It may sound a bit overwhelming, so let me break it down easily: collect 20 blue orbs, put them in the big flashy thing, and with the time left over collect more orbs, do tricks, and gain a higher score.
NiGHTS Into Dreams… really pushed the Saturn to its limits when it was released originally, with a bright colorful world that moved very fast. The HD version does well to expand upon this, and the game looks very clean and crisp with no slowdown. A few low-res textures are noticeable in some areas, but as a whole the game looks great. The music is also very upbeat and catchy, which is pretty indicative of the game as a whole.
Flying around the levels is seamless and well done. Although you are constricted to a 2D plane, the game does allow some freedom by allowing you to move up and down, backwards and forwards with no issues, and there are secrets to be found by exploring. By doing a large quick loop around a cluster of objects, you can suck them into you and progress with linking other rings and objects to increase your score. The game introduced the analog Sega Saturn pad when it was released, and the modern joysticks work just as well if not better to control yourself around the levels.
As you can probably tell, I am a bit of a NiGHTS into Dreams… fan. I loved it when it originally came out, I loved the Wii sequel, Nights: Journey of Dreams, and I love this HD upgrade. Not only do you get the HD version of the game, but the complete Saturn version of the game is included as well. As a bonus, you also get Christmas Nights HD, which is basically a remapping of two levels with a Christmas theme and music. Online leaderboards are also included, which is a welcome addition since the game is based on getting high scores.
NiGHTS into Dreams… may come off as a bit “kiddish” and confusing, but even if you don’t understand the story or like the bright, colorful graphics, the game itself more then makes up for it with fun and unique gameplay. This was the crown gem of the Sega Saturn and it’s still an amazing game today. Plus, for the low price, you get a large game for a reasonable price, so I cannot recommend this game enough. Take flight into this “NiGHT.”
+ A timeless classic with a new set of skin
+ Online Leaderboard increases replay tremendously
+ Includes the original Saturn version, plus Christmas Nights
– A few low-res textures
– Confusing story