Format reviewed: Sega Saturn
Developer: Sonic Team
Submitted by: Darren Carle
Upon it’s release in 1996, Nights was being heralded by some as important a release as Mario 64. In fact, the purple pixie shared equal front-cover space with the moustachioed plumber on C&VG that year. Whether such hype was justified is debatable, but nonetheless Nights Into Dreams, to give it its full title, is a brilliant and often overlooked game.
Developed by Sonic Team, the game takes place in a dream world called Nightopia, accessed by the two child protagonists of the game, Elliot and Claris. Both can be controlled on the on-foot sections but the main part of the game sees you control Nights. When Elliot or Claris enter the Ideya where Night’s is held prisoner, control reverts to the titular character, who can fly and pull off a range of acrobatic stunts.
Players control Nights through four sections of each of the seven levels or ‘Dreams’. Each section works as a sort of on-rails racecourse. Nights is in 3D, but you can only control the little flying jester in two-dimensions. Ostensibly you have to collect enough blue chips to pass each section or Mare. This gives you a grade between A and F depending on your performance. Each Dream has a boss to battle at the end of it. However, this is only half the game. Flying through the numerous sky rings and collecting blue chips successfully will build up your Links and the real fun comes in learning each course to maximise this and build up your Links into the hundreds.
Bundled with most copies of the game was the analogue pad, the first experience of its kind for many gamers. Using it to control Nights was a complete joy and easily elevated the game from good to brilliant. The A-Life system also felt pretty revolutionary back then. The small creatures of Nightopia reacted and adapted to their world and how you as Nights treated them. The landscape altered and even the music ‘remixed’ itself with each play, adjusting to the mood of play. Nights was one of the Saturn’s stand-out games and remains a classic today.