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NiGHTS into Dreams (Xbox 360) artwork

NiGHTS into Dreams (Xbox 360) review


"The Sega Saturn is a go. Itís out at stores near you. Itís bigger, badder, and more uncut than any piddly PSX. It features Sonic Teamís, and therefore SEGAís, most state-of-the-art Sonic title. Itís called NiGHTS into Dreams. Itís so cutting edge, it bypasses traditional titular capitalization standards and offers full-blown 3D models to the tune of all that jazz. Many who own a Saturn come to own this game, or at least play it. To everyoneís satisfaction, NiGHTS becomes a must-have title for a not so must-have system."




1996 . . .

The Sega Saturn is a go. Itís out at stores near you. Itís bigger, badder, and more uncut than any piddly PSX. It features Sonic Teamís, and therefore SEGAís, most state-of-the-art Sonic title. Itís called NiGHTS into Dreams. Itís so cutting edge, it bypasses traditional titular capitalization standards and offers full-blown 3D models to the tune of all that jazz. Many who own a Saturn come to own this game, or at least play it. To everyoneís satisfaction, NiGHTS becomes a must-have title for a not so must-have system.

2012 . . .

As part of their quest to capitalize on kneejerk reactions from long-time fans willing to repurchase games they havenít played in years, Sonic Team has now brought NiGHTS into Dreams to the likes of the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation Network. For that Iím glad because even though I was one of those people who actually bought and played the original on the Saturn, I found myself enjoying it more often than not. But when it came time to re-familiarize myself with a game I hadnít played in the better part of a decade, I came to realize that nostalgia certainly has a way of making things seem a little more ideal than they probably ever really were in the first place.

NiGHTS demands precision. Itís a time-based score-attack game at its heart. Control a violet-clad court jester across six different surreal, dream-like worlds in a limited amount of time to score points and help out some kids. The design is simple on the surface, but offers some complexities if you delve a little deeper. Anyone can overcome the bare minimum of challenges that are offered here in a short amount of time, but putting in the effort to learn each courseís layout and master the precise positioning and timing required to nab the highest score rankings may take some serious practice, assuming you would want to devote such a lengthy amount of time to such a superfluous goal to begin with.

No, NiGHTS really isnít worth all the fuss necessary for mastering its deepest challenges, the way I see it. It plays well enough, but it doesnít really hold itself dear to me this time around. Maybe it was because the game has aged rather poorly with its clunky camera and limiting on-rails progression. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that flying through loops and collecting blue orbs and golden stars holds limited appeal to a bloke like me.

Whatever the reason, I didnít really enjoy the task at hand. What could be the driving force behind this quest for aerial acrobatics through loops and hoops? Why, it would be to instill confidence and help beleaguered Elliot and Claris overcome their fears and failures! These kids, downbeat after getting metaphorical beat-downs in the music room and on the basketball court, respectively, dream of lush green lands with Nights as their avatar assigned with regaining their Ideyas [sic], from the clutches of a sinister evil manifesting itself in the dream world that simultaneously exists in Clarisís and Elliotís subconscious. Only with the help of Nights can he retrieve their Ideyas [sic] and prevent the evil Wizeman from spreading his weapon of fear into the real world. Or something.

Plot points aside, I didnít really have a whole lot of fun when playing NiGHTS. The game is too short at only six courses to ever really get going, and the boss fights at the end of each course feel more like tacked on diversions than any legitimate attempt at extending the gameís criminally short duration. With that said, however, NiGHTS could not possibly have benefited from being drawn out, as itís esoteric design would be even more of a turn-off in spite of the tantalizing prospect of festooning your television set for longer than it already does.

NiGHTS is a different kind of game, and different can be good. In spite of my less than warm analysis of the game, Iím just as glad that it was released in 1996 as I am that it was resurrected in 2012. Itís a game worth playing if only because itís different, though I sincerely doubt NiGHTS will pick up many new fans, as really only those who hold the original edition to some form of high regard thanks to nostalgia will be able to overlook its shortcomings . . . maybe.

If Iím not a fan of how the game plays, then why would I give you, the attentive reader a faint recommendation for playing NiGHTS? Well, if thereís anything that NiGHTS does well, itís through the presentation of its aural and aesthetical components. Few game worlds are as imaginatively depicted as the six brief courses offered here. They portray rolling green hills, Cimarron-colored canyons, and wintry wonderlands, to describe a few. Land masses in the sky mirror the terrain on the ground. Bold, bright, vibrant colors cover every single step of the way. The worldsí surreal depictions are further emphasized through ingenious way. The camera will depict Nights as he soars across the screen, then pan behind him as he progresses into the distance, and even at times zoom overhead to offer a birdís eye view of the action. As Nights races across the foreground, nightmarish monster-types co-inhabit these dream worlds with Nightopians to create a certain frivolity in the background that helps bring each world to life.

And if the gameís rich and colorful graphics give NiGHTS a pulse, then surely its soundtrack is what must give the game its soul. Few games that I have experienced have offered as deep or memorable of a soundtrack as the one that NiGHTS does. Itís the very best music that Sonic Team, or SEGA, or video games in general have to offer. Itís not sweeping orchestral or epic pulsations, but rather incredible music that illustrates a zeal for life, celebration, and hope through warmth and catchiness. Each worldís music is special in its own way. On that same note, scarcely have I been so compelled by a title screenís score, to say the least.

NiGHTS into Dreams would be worth $10 as a CD soundtrack, but getting the more primitive-looking original rendition to go along with the HD re-mastered edition is a nice little bonus. Even better, the ultra sappy Christmas Nights is also a part of the deal, making the 2012 edition of NiGHTS the best value in the series.

But wait, thereís more! Online leader boards, a cinematic gallery, and ear-buffet sound test round out the package. I laid down a ten-spot for this game thanks to nostalgia and came to realize that the best part of the game for me was what I was seeing and hearing. If you get this game and actually have fun with it, youíll feel like youíre in a dream. Otherwise, fuck it.

Rating: 6/10

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Community review by Fiddlesticks (October 14, 2012)

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