NiGHTS into Dreams HD was developed by Sonic Team and published by SEGA. It was released on October 2, 2012 for $9.99. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.
NiGHTS into Dreams HD is a beloved title that originally came out for the SEGA Saturn back in 1996 (and ported to the PS2 in Japan only in 2008). The game not only brought us a new controller that introduced a joystick to the Saturn family, but also garnered quite the following. There’s simply nothing like it on the gaming market, which might be the reason why it never became the established franchise SEGA wanted it to be. As of lately, however, SEGA has been doing a great job bringing the nostalgia back to older gamers. With Jet Set Radio HD, Sonic Adventure 2 HD, and now, NiGHTS into Dreams HD, they’ve really been catering to a certain audience.
The story in a nutshell follows two children who are in a dream world, Elliot and Claris, and are aided by a Nightmaren named NiGHTS who must stop the evil ruler of Nightmare, Wizeman in order to restore peace in the real world. NiGHTS into Dreams has a unique style and can be challenging at times, so it might not be for the gamers of this generation. This is a classic game remade for the people who remembered it in the 90′s and want to relive a bit of nostalgia, or for the people who were always a bit curious.
The basic idea of NiGHTS into Dreams is to collect 20 blue orbs and deliver them to the giant crystal looking orb found in each level called the Ideya within 120 seconds (180 seconds for the final level). After doing this for all four of the tracks in each level, you are presented to the boss at the end of every stage. The boss fights are trial and error for the most part, but they’re not too difficult once you figure them out. Both Claris and Elliot have four stages each, and the only way to advance to the final one is to earn the grade of at least a C in the previous three stages. Going for the A grade in each level is the biggest challenge of the title, and will require you to master acrobatic tricks and looping around the stars and blue orbs.
What we liked:
The Content — The NiGHTS into Dreams HD remake has a good amount of content to make this worthy of a purchase and to satisfy fans of the series. This includes the remastered version of the game, along with the original Saturn version so you can really compare the two together, leaderboards, and unlockables, such as art, cutscenes, and the sounds of the game. There’s also an interview with Takashi Iizuka, the lead designer of the original NiGHTS into Dreams HD that should please fans. On top of all that, it also includes Christmas NiGHTS, which consists of a Christmas themed Spring Valley level to get you in the holiday spirit! Christmas NiGHTS was originally handed out in certain magazines and bundled with select Saturn games during the holiday season of ’96, so this was a pleasant surprise seeing it featured in the remake.
The Soundtrack — This game’s soundtrack sounds as good as it ever did, and it’s my favorite part about this game. All the tunes throughout the levels are simply… happy. After replaying this game for the first time in years, hearing the music brought a smile across my face. It was a constant reminder of how truly rare it is to hear music like this in today’s games. Even the theme song of the game with lyrics that plays during the credits is great. The soundtrack is absolutely one of the major highlights of both the original title and the HD remake.
The Graphics — This HD port really shows off the games color scheme and does the NiGHTS name justice. After recently playing an original Saturn copy on my HD television back at home, you can obviously guess it looked awful (as it should). The widescreen presentation in this version is more than welcome and it’s also nice that the 4:3 version is included as well. The characters look much more smoothed out, and the environments look vibrant and sharp, but the texture pop-in is still a small problem, though it’s nothing distracting.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
The Presentation — It is important to note that the story in this game is actually really interesting. The way it’s presented, however, is not. You can get a brief idea of the overall story by watching the few cutscenes throughout each character’s journey, but the player never really is offered the full story of NiGHTS and his enemy, Wizeman. I actually had to look in my instruction manual of the original Saturn version to get the full story, and really appreciate it more after fully understanding everything. The games concept might be hard to figure out on your own as well, and this is something else that should have been addressed in game.
Cutting Minor Features Out — A couple small additions were cut from the port, and while this is a minor complaint, it’s a shame not everything was included to make this the full NiGHTS experience we had on the Saturn. In Christmas NiGHTS, you could play as Sonic the Hedgehog in a level titled Sonic the Hedgehog into Dreams, which was a neat little Easter egg. The two player versus mode also wasn’t included in this HD port. Though yours truly never cared for that addition in the first place, but some fans might.
NiGHTS into Dreams HD is a game that will always be remembered, whether it’s because of the game itself, or the risk that SEGA and Sonic Team took with it. It’s a game that was one of the reasons to buy a Saturn in the 90’s (it’s half the reason that convinced me). Unfortunately, NiGHTS the character never rose to the same appeal as Sonic did, which was Sonic Teams and SEGA’s ultimate goal. It’s hard to recommend a game like this to just anybody without putting in a little effort. Not everyone will instantly recognize the charm in NiGHTS, especially people playing it for the first time all together. For the people who loved the original title though, it’s an easy recommendation as it includes the remastered version and the original Saturn version, along with Christmas NiGHTS and more. SEGA has given this game the proper porting treatment it deserves, and hopefully gamers unfamiliar with NiGHTS will give him a twirl, and gamers familiar with the character will cherish him all over again sixteen years later.
Score: Buy It