Replaying classic games is always a particular joy when they either go through a digital re-release, or go through an HD remake. Such is the case with Nights into Dreams from Sega that I took time to cuddle with recently.
Originally released on the Sega Saturn in 1996, Nights into Dreams takes players into the world of dreams and nightmares through the experiences of two children Claris and Elliot as they work with Nights to defeat the plans of Wizeman and his nightmares from stealing dream energy and bring peace to Nightopia. Claris and Elliot can “dualize’ or combine with Nights in an effort to further their goals.
Following that premise, the game flies through several dream worlds in which players navigate their way through 4 “Mares” and a Nightmare Boss on their quest to recover “Ideyas” stolen by Wizeman’s nightmare lackeys via the blue chips that are found through out each level and used to release the Ideyas being held by that level’s cages. The key to eventually progressing to the end is of course score based so the higher your score upon completion of each Mare the better your score and overall scores. Points are obtained by collecting chips, flying through rings as Nights, performing acrobatic moves and so on. However, there is only a certain amount of time you can be Nights before you will revert to Claris or Elliot so keeping one eye on the time and the proximity to the Ideal Palace where you dualize with Nights is essential to really making the most of each Mare and score accumulation.
The controls for both Claris and Elliot are fairly straight forward and easily handled by anyone from children to adults. They can run along the ground, jump, and generally just make their way to the palace to reach Nights. It’s possible to complete a Mare as the kids, however score accumulation is limited and really you want to maximize your scores as much as possible to unlock the final Dream and complete the game. The fun or perhaps challenge comes with controlling Nights as you fly around the Mares. While there isn’t a whole lot of controls involved, it can take some time to adjust or find yourself flying off in the wrong direction then you intended. Between acrobatic moves, drill dash, and touch dash you can find some interesting things in the midst of a Mare like blue chips hidden within boulders, or when tackling the nightmare bosses it can be required to tackle them head on through the use of the dashes.
The controls aren’t terribly difficult to master, though it can cause some frustration for younger players to adjust or avoid running into the citizens of the Mares which lead to time deductions. Following along with controls, the acrobatic moves when combined with linking actions such as going through rings and picking up stars, chips, and the like can yield greater points and an improved score at the end of the Mares. Getting better at accomplishing these combinations and driving your point score higher and higher is always best.
Graphically the game offers either classic Sega Saturn style graphics or the updated HD graphics which really is more a matter of edge smoothing, brightening the colours and bringing the game forward in terms of today’s crispness of image without loosing the overall art style of the original. Combined with the catchy music that can alter as time goes along it provides a rich colour palette as you traverse the dreams and explore the Mares found in the game. Much of the game has an obvious Sonic the Hedgehog aesthetic in terms of art style which shouldn’t come as a surprise given the team behind the title.
In the end, Nights into Dreams is a great title to pick up on XBLA or PSN respectively as it can be an entertaining time waster to play casually either for retro fans or something to occupy the kids with something different without breaking your bank. Adding in the bonus Christmas Nights content that was previously only available as a special event or bundle and the online leaderboards for you competitive folks you’re getting a nice remake title out of the deal and one of those off the wall titles that can make for a fun couple of hours of play. The main issues that I encountered was that the controls were a bit wonky at first in the HD version compared to the Sega Saturn form of play, however that has since been patched and the HD controls are more equalized to the original standard. The decision to remove versus mode is a bit odd and struck me as a missed opportunity to increase the play life for this re-release however you can’t have everything all of the time.
Even without two player action, there’s still fun to be had as you make your way from Mare to Mare with Claris, Elliot, and Nights and put an end to Wizeman’s evils. The final thing that could be said against Nights into Dreams is that it isn’t terribly long and you can work your way through it within a reasonable amount of time. That said, there’s plenty of fun to be had and for it’s price it’s hard to not recommend Once everything is cleared and you still want some pleasure from the game, you can certainly browse through the “Presents” content which includes a gallery, movie theater, and sound test to just sit back and check out the tunes found in the game. I definitely recommend Nights for retro fans looking for a bit of fun, or anyone looking for an offbeat experience from the Sonic Team and Sega.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.