As Sega continues to plunder the annals of its gaming archives, it was only a matter of time before Sonic Team’s purple dream jester was awakened from a lengthy slumber.
A creation birthed off the back of a string of Megadrive system sellers, NiGHTS into Dreams would never gain traction quite like the blue hog did but cult status has kept this Saturn classic alive among Sega die-hards.
Youngsters Elliot and Claris have both become haunted by nightmares that send them to Nightopia where they discover the Wizeman has stolen their purity, hope, intelligence, and wisdom.
A crossbreed of Sonic the Hedgehog and Ecco the Dolphin, players pilot Nights, a rogue nightmaren who helps Elliot and Claris by pirouetting through Nightopia’s skies, para-looping around blue orbs that free these characteristics called Ideya from cages against a strict time limit.
Despite their illusion, Nights cannot fly into levels but travel in only two dimensions – spinning forward, swooping up and down and backtracking along predetermined routes. Run out of time and Nights will vanish leaving Elliot or Claris to travel on foot chased by an alarm clock that threatens to end the dream.
Though many will breeze through NiGHTS, much of its replay value comes from a harsh grading system that demands you meet a C-grade average across all levels before allowing you to finish each character’s story. For example, running out of time and transforming back into either child will earn you an automatic F.
Bonus content such as Christmas NiGHTS, a rarity given away with Saturn Magazines and with new Saturn sold during the holiday season, is one such extra that’s locked out until you complete the game.
But despite its harsh difficulty, this is a restoration job worth commending. The aptly-titled Brand New Dreams features spruced up polygons and an extra layer of polish that paint Nightopia’s colourful an imaginative canvas as strong as ever. Blemishes can be nit-picked but those unconvinced can opt to play the game as it looked back in 1996.
Arguably one of the most memorable things about NiGHTS was its soundtrack which returns as lively as ever, its synthesised, keyboard-driven leads teasing our nostalgic weaknesses.
In addition to the aforementioned Christmas NiGHTS, bonus content including image galleries, sound test mode, and a short interview with lead designer Takashi Iizuka should more than enough to warrant a download from fans.
As a contemporary, NiGHTS’ quirks and bizarre nature and tough scoring system is likely to draw more puzzled looks today than it did in 1996.
This is a faithful package for the fans who’ve longed to revisit the game that defined the Sega Saturn – a successor that failed to live up to the caliber of its forbearers but still loved by many.
A faithful HD port, NiGHTS into dreams is a dream come true.
Tags: NiGHTS into Dreams
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