Hey gang, Valkor here. And I'm a self-admitted, huge fan of all things Sega; it's rare that there's a gaming event or discussion where I won't bring up the company, pouring praise upon praise for their systems and games they've put out (including 3rd parties). When discussing the Sega Saturn, I'll agree – great system, but it was rushed and could have truly been something special had Sega given it the time to tweak it just right. But without question, it produced some of the most innovative titles in gaming history. And one of those titles, which is currently available in Hi-Def glory, is Nights: Into Dreams HD. Oh I've been waiting for this for a long time and now that it's finally here… well read on.
In Nights: Into Dreams you play as either Elliot or Claris who team up with high-flying jester-esque character called Nights to save the world of Nightopia from the evil Wizman. You'll traverse through seven levels of play with each character having their own set path (3 stages per) and they share one final stage. The levels are broken into four parts and at the start of each level, the kids have four of five Ideya gems taken from them by Wizman's minions (the 5th is the one he cannot touch) and placed in capture devices. You start the game by walking up to Nights, kicking off the level. And It's up to Nights to collect 20 blue orbs to release the gem from the Ideya capture, returning it to the Ideya palace. Once each Ideya is collected you're then taken to the final boss stage. It sounds pretty simple; however you have to get each gem before the allotted time runs out. And this is important because as you complete each stage, you're given a letter grade A through F. You can complete the stage with a lower grade, but you'll need at least a "C" across the board to gain access to the final boss battle - WIzman. Also if you're time runs out, you turn back into your human form and you'll have to outrun an egg clock that will wake you up and its game over.
There's a lot going on, under the hood of Nights; it's not exactly a racing game, though you have a timer that needs to be beaten or else you run the risk of a lower grade, changing back to human form, and quite possibly waking up ending your run. It's not a platformer, though you do fly around in a 2D environment, collect items and power ups, and defend against enemies and stage bosses. And it's not exactly a flying game because you can't go anywhere you want though you're not exactly on rails either. It's more or less a culmination of everything mentioned, making Nights something of a unique experience. Nights is also a game that might confuse gamers at first, who may state that it's "too easy" or "too difficult to get the better grade", and it is if you play through it directly. Nights isn't about going from one end to the other on the quick, but it forces you to experience flight in the Nightopian world and memorize patterns that will not only get you the higher grades needed to reach Wizman, but in turn you also open up better endings. You can perform various stunts and maneuver through hoops, which increases your score and can boost your letter grade. Enemies are also strewn about, but they don't really try to stop you and you don't have to fight them - you can easily fly around them. However, if you're in the midst of performing a medium loop, moving into a figure eight through a series of hoops, then they may jump in the way, which not only breaks the chain but you also lose 5 seconds off the clock. You can defeat enemies by performing a loop that sucks them into a vacuum. This vacuum also works in gathering orbs and stars, pulling them towards you making it easier to gather the amount needed to free the Ideya and achieve the highest score possible.
Boss battles also seem confusing at first, but after a while you'll recognize the patterns needed to defeat them. For instance there's a cat like creature that sets off torpedo mice. You defeat him by exploding the mice before take-off leaving the cat without a mouse to stand on. Again defeating the enemy in the allotted time is crucial for that overall letter grade.
Nights HD is an upscaling of the 2008 Playstation 2 title (released only in Japan), which is a remake of the original Sega Saturn title. The game supports 16:9 displays and is cleaned up nicely, smoothing out the jaggies presented in the Saturn version. However, if you're feeling nostalgic, you can switch to the original Saturn version, but once you see the game in HD… I don't see why you'd wanna go back. You also get Christmas Nights achievement/trophies, leaderboards, you can listen to the game tunes seperately, and unlock video clips. Finally the game is available on PSN, Xbox Live, and PC so pick your poison, you can't go wrong either way. And just tossin it out there Sega, I'd love to have a version on the Vita. Yes I would buy this game all over again to have it on the go. With that being said, let's dip into the TOV Breakdown.
Nights: Into the Dreams was one of my favorite Saturn titles and I consider it one of the best all time. If you knew me when it was out, you'd think that was the only game I played, and you'd mostly be right because the game did eat up a lot of my time. My goal was to get those As across the board and to see that big ending. And when I accomplished that, I continued playing just for the heck of it… until I moved on to the Dreamcast. The controls in Nights were spot on perfect (except when you turn back into the kid), the graphics (for its time) were amazing, and the music was outstanding and memorable; like candy for the ears, so syrupy sweet and fun, and it matched each stage. And now, here we are, so many years later and I am once again captivated by the awesomeness of Nights. The controls are the same and so is the music, but it's all about the graphics that truly complete the package. In short, the game looks gorgeous! Everything is smoothed out to perfection, with colors that are bright, rich, and just so alive! The levels are beyond imaginative, which not only feels dreamy when flying through them, but they're so cute and twisted all at the same time. One minute you're soaring through some lush green and the next you're fighting a creepy fish underwater. In the end, Nights into Dreams is now more of a masterpiece than it was 16 years ago. And I couldn't be happier with it.
Newbies to this sort of experience may become frustrated, but really Nights isn't simply a "pick up and play" type of game. It's somewhat "arcadey" as its all about achieving that high score. However in this case, it's achieving that high score with a purpose. And in order to get that high score, which in turn gets you that higher letter grade you need to perform stunts, collect starts, free the Ideya and make it back to your platform all within two minutes. Sounds crazy, but it can be done, it just takes time and some serious patience.
Where do I start? Not a negative towards the game, but damn that fish boss!
Nights: Into Dreams HD is available now and it's a game that older gamers as well as newcomers can appreciate and enjoy. If you're looking for something unique, imaginative, original, and fun, then Nights HD is definitely the game that's right up you're alley. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm going all in and giving Nights HD 5 stars perfect!