Poll Winner: NIGHTS INTO DREAMS…
In 1996 the Sonic Team put out NiGHTS into Dreams…, their first game to have absolutely nothing to do with the Sonic the Hedgehog universe. The game features two children who don’t know each other, but are each going through difficult times in their lives and experiencing bad dreams. When the children sleep they can become a jester looking character named NiGHTS, who combats the evil Wizeman to seize control of the dream world. NiGHTS into Dreams…‘s gameplay centers around the player gathering various items in various dream states to progress to that stage’s boss and defeat them. NiGHTS can be steered in which direction to go but is essentially on rails (think of it like a 2.5D Sonic game). NiGHTS into Dreams… was re-released on PS2, PSN, XBLA and Steam. A direct sequel was made for the Wii.
I really like the artwork of most of my Saturn games including this one, the Japanese anime influence on their designs is very evident. Visually NiGHTS into Dreams… was impressive for its time. It is very colorful and vibrant, the character models are only a bit blurry and some of the background choices were good (although they get reused a bit too often). My only problem with the game’s visuals is that there are a bit too many things on screen at any given moment and it all adds up to the game looking and feeling cluttered. The soundtrack is unsurprisingly very strong, it is a Sonic team game after all. The music even changes in tempo, pitch and melody with the state of the environment of the current level.
The game does a pretty good job at presentation. Like Zwei, the opening cutscenes of NiGHTS into Dreams… are actually very well done for a game its age and help set the creepy undertones of the game. The gameplay itself may feel a bit basic to me at this point, but for its time period there really was nothing else like it. It is free-flowing and fast, its evident it was made by the one company you know can convey speed in a video game. Packaging in the bigger Saturn controller with the analog stick was a great decision because NiGHTS into Dreams… is the perfect game to introduce the world to the feeling of 3D gameplay. Using the thumbstick helps you feel even more like you are “flowing” through the game environments.
Constantly changing camera perspectives and only short breaks in the action add to the feeling of speed. Adding even further to the need for speed is that each round is timed. You can’t lose any other way, its all about completing tasks in a set amount of time. I also liked there being separate campaigns for each character, that end up merging together.
NiGHTS into Dreams…’s main fault I find is it being too easy and too short. I beat the game in under two hours and never “died” a single time. I’m not against a game being two hours if its really challenging but that’s not the case with NiGHTS into Dreams… The bosses in particular were too easy. I would reach a boss, who were admittedly usually interesting looking, and think “Alright cool, what’s this guy gonna do that is unique or difficult to beat?” Only to find that once again I just need to dash right into their body like everyone else. The game overall just feels catered to kids, not there’s anything wrong with that. While NiGHTS into Dreams… may not meet my nostalgic expectations, it is still a great game and one of the must-owns of the Saturn.