|Platform Reviewed||Sega Saturn (Japanese version reviewed)|
|Number of Players||One|
|Length||Moderate (But High Repeat Value)|
|Skills Required||Manual Dexterity|
|Interface Devices||New Analog Joypad (Standard CAN be used, but SHOULDN'T)|
|Programming||Beyond Superlative: Magnificent|
|Game Design and Playability||Beyond Superlative: Magnificent|
|Type Of Fun||Flying, Soaring, Collecting, Swirling, Climbing, Walking, Fighting|
|Overall Value||Beyond Superlative: Magnificent|
|Quality||Beyond Superlative: Magnificent|
|The Best||Beyond Superlative: Magnificent|
|The Worst||Not Having This Game|
|How much I'd Pay for This||130 bucks. It's good.|
NIGHTS into dreams is a unique game. One could almost call it an 'Un-Platform' game. Some elements of the Platform game are present, such as collecting and doing battle, but that is where the resemblance ends. There is a fully realized wonderland of 3D worlds to explore and traverse on foot, but it is in the power of dreamlike flight that the game truly comes into its own. This experience of flight is nothing less than incredible, and the new analog joypad makes the experience delirious. The closest I can describe NIGHTS is to recall to the reader that delicious sensation they had when, for the very first time, they found themselves putting Sonic The Hedgehog through those huge looping circular ramps. That first taste of amazement and speed is akin to NIGHTS, save that it does not end, it goes on and on without let, the never-ending essence of swift perfection in motion. There are worlds to conquer, and bosses to fight, but that description fails to do the game justice. It truly is dreamlike, and exquisitely beautiful as well. Indeed it my be the most beautiful game this writer has ever seen. This and gameplay too. Cherish it. Such wonders are few.
Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair are two young citizens of the city of Twin Seeds. Although they have never met, and are very different from one another, they have two things in common. Both are possessed of the 'Ideya' ,or spiritual essence, of courage, and both suffer from reoccurring nightmares. One night, simultaneously, Elliot and Claris suffer different, but unusually powerful nightmares. The nightmares are so intense, that both teens find themselves achieving lucidity: the fully conscious awareness of dreaming, whilst still remaining within the dream. (Author's note: this is a real capacity, and one I have enjoyed about 14 times in my life. It is, in fact, better, and more "real" seeming than life, yet is the gate to fantastic dream worlds and dream abilities. Many people are able to experience this, and learning to do it on command is a requirement of some Buddhist sects.)
Lucid dreaming brings Elliot and Claris to the dream realm of 'Nightopia', a spiritual universe created by powerful entities. Upon entering this diverse realm, both are stripped of their glowing 'Ideya' of Purity, Wisdom, Imagination, and the like, but left with their unquenchable power of courage. It is this remaining 'Ideya' that permits them to enter the sealed temple wherein is trapped 'NIGHTS', a being of spiritual essence. NIGHTS is a created being, originally brought into existence to act as a high level 'Nightmaren' the purpose of which was to banish human souls from the dream realm of Nightopia. NIGHTS had achieved self awareness and rebelled from this directive, and so had been imprisoned, lest NIGHTS use the power of Creation itself against its creator.
Claris and Elliot, unbeknownst to each other, seek and individually merge with NIGHTS to escape the temple and collect 'Ideya'. When a full set of 'Ideya' are gathered, NIGHTS is empowered to ascend to the realm of the Nightmarens, enter their neon pocket universes, and attempt to defeat them. Dream after dream, night after night, Claris, Elliot and NIGHTS draw closer to the source of this somnambulant situation. Will Claris and Elliot ever meet? Will NIGHTS ever be truly free? Is Nightopia a real, or illusory realm? What will happen when the lucid dreams end?
Pretty unusual story for a video game, isn't it? It's a pretty unusual game. NIGHTS is one of the finest expressions of the Gamer's art I have ever seen. It combines fantastic gameplay with unbelievable graphics, great characters, wonderful music, fantastic programming, and incredible value. There is an artificial life aspect that is astonishing, and it is possible to earn a two player mode. NIGHTS itself is one the most visually appealing characters imaginable, and is made all the more ethereal and magical by being "neither male nor female" but strangely both and neither. Claris and Elliot are wonderful anime-style characters, and everything is animated brilliantly. The dream worlds in the game were designed with an eye to actual dream psychology, especially the works of psychiatrist Frederich Holtz. It is possible to fly and splash through sparkling waterfalls, soar amidst the branches of gigantic trees, and bobsled down icy slopes. There are trains to ride, temples and ruins to climb or levitate inside, and far more. Later levels become actually mind bending. Anyone who has experimented with psychotrophic pharmaceuticals will instantly recognize such wonders as the 'Soft Museum' a marble and brass institution set in a brick-path forested park. The entire universe here is liquid yet downy, with stone and metal squirming and bowing as though one were strolling about upon an enormous half-filled waterbed. And this mentally disturbing, yet strangely beautiful realm is but one of many dream worlds that seem both lovely and vaguely unsettling at the same time. This is a 'dangerous' game, one that affects the perceptive player deeply, and in complex ways. Even so, the average 'Joe Six-pack' type of gamer ' Hey dude, let's kick back some beer and kick some joystick butt' will still find an addictive, challenging and impressive game in NIGHTS. Ultimately, I say just go buy it , make sure that you get the analog pad as well, two pads if you want to enjoy the two-player mode when you earn it. You will eat this game with a spoon and beg for more. You will NOT be disappointed with this one.
It is just the finest that money can buy. My Highest Commendation. PERFECT.
P.S. the import version, which is the basis of this review, is ENTIRELY in English. This means that there is no reason for Sega to alter anything about this game for America, whatsoever - except the 'lock out code' that makes adapters vital to playing import games.
Jennifer Diane Reitz is a Game Designer and Computer Artist, and one of the founders of Happy Puppy. She is the creator of numerous games and software products, including Boppin' , Shark Chums, Elsewhere, and many others. She has worked for such companies as Activision, Sculptured Software, Epyx, SRI, and Electronic Arts, and founded Accursed Toys. She has been active in the computer gaming industry since it's earliest days. She considers games to be works of artistic merit and achievement, and views computer entertainment as the most important media of our era.