"Everyoneís had a memorable dream or two. One of mine that comes to mind was when I was Link from The Legend of Zelda and I was fighting giant M&Mís. I donít get it either but it was epic. One dream I hope I never have is flying around with a transsexual purple jester named NiGHTS, which is unfortunately the case in the much overdue sequel to the Sega Saturn sleeper hit (no pun intended), NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for the Nintendo Wii. "
Everyoneís had a memorable dream or two. One of mine that comes to mind was when I was Link from The Legend of Zelda and I was fighting giant M&Mís. I donít get it either but it was epic. One dream I hope I never have is flying around with a transsexual purple jester named NiGHTS, which is unfortunately the case in the much overdue sequel to the Sega Saturn sleeper hit (no pun intended), NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for the Nintendo Wii.
Like the original NiGHTS, Journey of Dreams revolves around one of two children. In this game you play as either the soccer star, Will, or the violinist, Helen, and each offer their own unique levels and boss fights, but the storylines and cutscenes are practically the same. Regardless of who you play as, youíll find yourself in the Night Dimension, known as Nightopia. Youíll meet the jester, NiGHTS, and a wise owl that tells you about the world and itís constantly threatened by evil beings known as Nightmarens. Itís now up to you to dualize with NiGHTS where both of your bodies bond and essentially you control NiGHTS, which is the highlight of the game.
The Dream Gate is the central hub of the game where you can travel to the gameís seven worlds. Each world pretty much has the same objectives, with the first one freeing NiGHTS from a cage by having him fly through rings and pursue birds that have the keys to the cage. After freeing NiGHTS, youíll fight the boss of the world and while they arenít difficult, figuring out how to defeat them is what takes the most time and once you figure out how to do so, youíll run out of time and will have to replay the level all over again. In general, the game is time attack based, where everything you do has to be done before the time limit expires. Since Sonic Team made this game, itís no surprise that the game feels like Sonic The Hedgehog, except youíre flying instead of running.
However, the means of flying can vary depending on the controller you use. Journey of Dreams offers four different ways to play: Wii Remote, Wii Remote with Nunchuck, GameCube controller, and the classic controller, with the last two being the more comfortable and practical control schemes. Using the conventional methods, you just press right on the control stick and guide NiGHTS through his predetermined path. Youíre constantly moving right. Itís like NASCAR but instead of constantly turning left, youíre turning right, which is also the best way to lose a redneck. In addition, to moving forward, youíll do loops to attack enemies as well as charge at them by pressing the A button. Using the Wii remote requires you to turn it in order to guide NiGHTS through the stages that can feel awkward and youíll end up twisting your arms up in the long run, in short avoid the Wii remote controls at all costs. If youíve played the Sega Saturn version of the game, then youíll feel right at home with the analog stick controls, since they havenít changed since 1996. Gamers new to the series will probably not enjoy the lazy controls of this game.
Both storylines take about two hours to complete each, and they each offer their own unique levels. Of the two children, Helen actually has the more intriguing levels. One of her levels includes a crystal castle where you can only see your path by looking at the reflection of the mirrors in the background. However, both stories have their share of clunky platforming segments where you play as the children who have to jump across platforms and navigate through uninteresting mazes. Aside from those levels, the rest of the game is pretty good.
Upon completing the initial chase mission of each level, youíll unlock the level in the multiplayer mode. There are two types of multiplayer; battle where you fly around throwing balloons at each other, which gets old fairly quick. The other type is race which is self-explanatory, you race across the map. The latter is also available online over Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, where you can race your friends, someone in the same region as you, or a complete stranger. Of course, separate friend codes from the game are required for racing your friends. In addition to online competitions, thereís also ďMy Dream,Ē where you collect Nightmarens in the game and they appear in your dream. Essentially, itís like the Chao Garden from the Sonic Adventure games. The high scores you accumulate in the game can also be posted online to show off how good you are at a childrenís (card) game.
On the note of this game feeling childish, you can definitely tell from the gameís main theme, ďDreams, Dreams,Ē that it feels like an aborted Disney/Polar Express-esque movie, especially when you hear the version sung by children. *shudders* However, there is definitely a charming aspect to the lyrics if youíre willing to drop the tough guy faÁade.
ďIn the nights, dream delight
I want to see you standing there!
In the nights, dream delight
I found someone who really cares!
In the nights, dream delight
I want to see you smile again!
In the nights, dream delight
Youíre the one Iíve waited for!Ē
It just brings a tear to your eye. Okay, probably not and Iím probably going to be known as a sissy after this review. Anyway, the music is fantastic, and itís definitely the highlight of this game as it was for its predecessor. Journey of Dreams not only brings the awesome soundtrack, but also the unfortunate sub-par acting. The dialogue sequences are gawd-awful and I could feel my ear drums stapling themselves in the crotch whenever the children spoke, sure theyíre just children; theyíre meant to be seen, not heard, good gawd! What sucks more is thereís always a cutscene that you canít skip before a mission and when you inevitably fail said mission youíll have to watch it over and over again. When I realized this I came up with a list of activities to do during these moments: cook some bagel bites, play in traffic, visit the playground, and many other things. Despite the horrible voice acting, the soundtrack still kicks ass and thatís all that really matters.
To complement the sound, is pretty decent visuals. While theyíre not the best, theyíre Wii-standard. The opening and closing CG cutscenes are pretty good, while the rest of the game is your standard Sega-style cutscenes. In general, think of what the Sonic Adventure games would look like on the Wii and thatís basically what youíll see. However, you will see very colorful and vibrant environments to fly through and it definitely feels like you are in a dream world, even if the last level happens to be a rip off of Peter Pan.
All in all, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is a charming and cute game for everyone. If you were a fan of the Saturn original, then youíll feel right at home with the identical gameplay. People who havenít played the original but are fans of Sonic, or they just donít have anything else to play on their Wii should also enjoy it. Some of the game may get repetitive near the end but there are numerous challenges to keep you playing for quite some time.
Community review by Ness (January 26, 2008)
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