Nights Into Dreams is short and sometimes frustrating, but that doesn't prevent it from being magical.
- Dreamy courses
- Creative flight-based gameplay
- Nice extras.
- Cheap boss encounters.
The freedom of flight appeals to nearly everyone; there's something magical about the ability to leave the ground and take to the skies. That fascination people have with flight is clearly what made the concept behind Nights Into Dreams so thrilling years ago, and it's what will draw people to the game even now.
As the story goes, a girl named Claris and a boy named Elliot have ventured into a world of dreams. Now they must save that magical world by teaming up with a purple flying creature known as Nights, the last of his kind to avoid capture by an evil army. You choose one of several courses, and at first you control one of the two children. Awkwardly, you wander the landscape until you reach a series of columns that encircle your airborne friend. Touching Nights causes him to take flight, and then you are free to soar through the skies for as long as two minutes.
Though Nights Into Dreams is an old design at its heart, it offers a liberating experience even by today's standards. Nights moves responsively, and he can perform air dashes and somersaults as he negotiates an aerial wonderland filled with magical rings that regenerate his energy meter. (Nights has no gender, incidentally, although we've referred to the jester as "he" for the purposes of this review.) That energy allows him to keep moving at high speeds while he collects blue orbs. Once he has gathered 20 orbs within the current portion of the course, he can toss them into a giant translucent bubble, and then he is permitted to return to the columns and begin flying through a new portion of the current course.
A certain number of restrictions are necessary to ensure that Nights Into Dreams works as a game. The most prominent of those restrictions is that if Nights doesn't return to the starting columns within two minutes, any orbs he has in his possession go flying everywhere like rings in a Sonic game after a collision with an enemy. Nights departs, and then you're left controlling the child, who fumbles around the landscape in an effort to collect and turn in orbs, just like his or her winged friend. However, a hostile pod is in pursuit by that point, and the game unceremoniously ends if the pod captures the youthful hero or heroine in its tractor beam. This dynamic adds tension to the experience while you're controlling Nights, because you want to do everything you can to avoid a risky reunion with the child, and yet you also want to collect as many orbs as possible before you return to the columns just ahead of the last few ticks of the timer.
At a glance, Nights Into Dreams is a platformer wherein you happen to fly a lot, but it feels more like a racing game when you're playing it properly. Speed runs are your goal, and your most capable enemy is the timer. You want to obtain 20 blue orbs as quickly as possible, and you want to turn those in promptly because then you can get more points by collecting additional orbs before finishing one of the four legs of the proper race. Courses that at first seem like a jumbled mess slowly take form as you memorize the location of jewel caches and try to move from one to the next without slowing down too much.
I still play this game every once in a while. Hasn't aged all that well, but the atmosphere is timeless.
The only (minor) problem I found with this version - at least from the demo - is that Claris and Elliot move too goddamn slow compared to the Saturn version.
Of course it's a minor thing, because I like to go back and replay the levels as the kids so I can just run around and see what I can do in them. (besides fly around as NiGHTs, of course) You can do the Super Mario 64-style triple jump, which increases your speed every time you jumped after you began your third jump in a row, until you stop.
The best thing about that was that you could easily clip through walls and other objects you're not normally supposed to go through as the kids this way. For example, in Splash Garden, there's an invisible wall between the rock-wall thing and the purple ocean. If you continuously jump through there, you'll find yourself in the ocean! (Careful though, because you can enter the crushed ceilings/floors. Touch the purple ocean in those areas, and...well....) Do this in the museum in Soft Museum, and you'll wind up flying WAAYYY outside of the level boundaries (even the purple ocean), and land on TOP of the level!
But all of that was for the Sega Saturn version, and only if you were using the digital controller.
Now its time to bring Panzer Dragoon into HD as well, sign the petition and help us make it real: http://www.panzerdragoonrevival.com/en
You guys thought the bosses were cheap? Sure I had to figure out what to do at first and maybe lost once to each boss, but they are still rather easy. The only one I would consider cheap is the first boss from Claris path as I think it has a weird collition detection
It is a great price for what you're getting. Even though I feel that games like this are more for nostalgia's sake, it is a great opportunity to sample this cult classic.
While I am perfectly thrilled to play NiGHTS Into Dreams again, am I the only one who thinks it would have been a perfect fit on the 3DS?
@El_Zo1212oAbsolutely. A game like this would be decent to play on the 3DS.
It should be mentioned that Nights is not male, but is actually genderless. Many people seem to forgot that.
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@Gelugon_baat @thom_maytees There is text right in the review that addresses this. "(Nights has no gender, incidentally, although we've referred to the jester as "he" for the purposes of this review.)" It is similar to a sentence I wrote in my own review of Nights: Journey of Dreams. Not writing "he/she/it" isn't "lazy:" it's a purposeful choice to not disrupt the flow of the writing by using a single pronoun instead of an awkward amalgam. For heaven's sake.