NiGHTS Into Dreams

Nights into Dreams...

Nights into Dreams... (trademarked NiGHTS into Dreams...), is a video game released by Sega in 1996 for the Sega Saturn video game system. The game's story follows two children entering a dream world, where they are aided by the main character, Nights. Nights was developed by Sonic Team, with Yuji Naka as producer and lead programmer, and Naoto Oshima as director and designer of the character. The developers' intention was to make the sensation of flight the central gameplay element, achieved through 3D graphics and a combination of both 2D and 3D gameplay. The game was re-released in Japan for the PlayStation 2 on February 21, 2008. It is unknown at this time if it will be released in other territories.

Story

Every night, all human dreams are played out in Nightopia and Nightmare, the two parts of the dream world. In Nightopia, distinct aspects of dreamers' personality are represented by luminous colored spheres known as "Ideya". However, the evil ruler of Nightmare, Wizeman the Wicked, is stealing this dream energy from sleeping visitors, in order to gather power to take control of Nightopia and eventually the real world. To achieve this, he creates numerous beings called "Nightmaren", including two acrobatic jester-like, flight-capable beings called Nights and Reala. However, Nights rebels against Wizeman's plans, and is punished by being imprisoned inside an Ideya palace, a gazebo-like container for dreamers' Ideya.

One day, Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair, two children from the city of Twin Seeds, go through failures. Elliot likes to play basketball, but is challenged by kids from another grade and loses. Claris wants to sing in a play but is overcome by stage-fright in front of the judges. That night, the both suffer nightmares that replay the events. They escape into Nightopia and find that they both possess the rare Red Ideya of Courage, the only type Wizeman cannot steal. They release Nights, who tells them about dreams, and Wizeman and his plans, and the three begin a journey to stop Wizeman and restore peace to Nightopia.

Characters

Claris Sinclair

Age: 15 (Japan) / 14 (Other Regions)

A talented singer, Claris' ambition is to perform on stage. She auditions for a part in the events commemorating the centenary of the city of Twin Seeds. However, upon standing in front of the judges, she is overcome by stage fright and does not perform well.

Claris loses all hope of getting the role, and when she falls asleep that night, the evil spirits of Nightmare seize upon that fear, placing Claris in a nightmare version of the audition. Fleeing from the stage, she suddenly finds herself in a lush spring valley, with Nights calling to her.

Elliot Edwards

Age: 15 (Japan) / 14 (Other Regions)

Elliot is a budding basketball player, enjoying a game with his friends one day. A group of older high school students arrive and challenge them to a game, causing Elliot to suffer a humiliating defeat on the court. That night, a nightmare replays the events, and Elliot runs blindly into the world of Nightopia, where he discovers the imprisoned Nights.

Nights

Nights is a Nightmaren created by Wizeman to steal Red Ideya. Nights wears a purple jester style hat and outfit, with a diamond on the chest. Nights is not known to speak in the game, although it does make noise when it is injured.

In the story, Nights turns on Wizeman and is sealed in the Ideya Palace until Elliot or Claris merge with it. Nights' name is re-capitalized and it's voice is shown in the sequel.

Reala

Reala is Wizeman's most trusted servant. Unlike Nights, Reala is cruel, brutal, clever, and completely loyal to Wizeman. Reala was responsible for Nights' imprisonment in the Ideya Palace. At the start of the boss fight against Reala, the character delivers one of the only two spoken lines in the entire game. Reala has appeared in Nights into Dreams... and Nights Journey of Dreams. Reala is a playable character in Sega Superstars Tennis, but in the game, Reala's voice has changed.

Wizeman the Wicked

Wizeman is the main antagonist of the game. He is the evil ruler of Nightmare, the dark half of the dreamworld. Wizeman is the creator of the Nightmaren: Nights, Reala, Jackle, Clawz, Gulpo, Gillwing and Puffy, as well as many minor maren seen in the levels. When Nights rebelled against Wizeman, Reala became Wizeman's henchman. Wizeman is the final boss of the game; appears as hollow clothing and 6 hands, each with an eye in the palm. He has an array of mystical powers and abilities. During the boss battle, he brings Nights, Elliot and Claris into different locations.

Gameplay

Nights into Dreams... is split into seven levels or "Dreams", each divided further into four "Mares" and a boss battle. The levels are distributed equally between the two child characters; three are unique to Claris, three to Elliot, and each play through an identical final seventh level, "Twin Seeds". Initially, only Claris' Spring Valley and Elliot's Splash Garden are available, and successful completion of one of these unlocks the next level in that child's path. Previously completed stages may be revisited to improve the player's high scores; a "C" grade in all the selected child's levels must be achieved to unlock the relevant Twin Seeds dream for that character.

At the start of each level, Wizeman's minions steal all the character's Ideya except the rare red type representing courage. The other Ideya colors in the game are yellow for hope, green for wisdom, blue for intelligence and white for purity. The goal of each of the four "Mares" in each level is to recover the stolen Ideya by collecting 20 blue chips and delivering them to the Ideya capture, which will overload and release the orb it holds. It is possible to complete some of the levels' goals by wandering around the landscape of Nightopia as Claris or Elliot (pursued by an egg-shaped alarm clock which will wake the children up and end the level if it catches them), but the majority of the gameplay centers on Nights' flying sequences, triggered by walking into the Ideya palace near the start of each level and merging with the imprisoned acrobat.

In the Nights sections, the player flies around a particular linear route through the Mare. The gameplay as Nights is not completely 3D: players can only fly in the 2D plane of the screen, with their actual motion through the level determined by the automatic camera angle at that point in the Mare. The player has only a limited period available before Nights falls to the ground and turns back into Claris or Elliot, and each collision with an enemy subtracts five seconds from the time remaining.

Various acrobatic maneuvers can be performed, including the "Paraloop", whereby flying around in a complete circle causes any items within the loop to be attracted towards Nights. The game features a combo system known as "Linking" whereby actions such as collecting items and flying through rings are worth more points when performed in quick succession than they are individually.

After completing the four Mares, the player is transported to Nightmare to confront one of Wizeman's Nightmarens. The player has two minutes to defeat the boss, with the time taken contributing to the player's total score for that Dream. After each boss is defeated, a player can play a level again, and choose via the menu which boss to fight.

A-Life

Aside from the immediate game mission, the game also contains an artificial life ("A-Life") system, a precursor to the Chao featured in Sonic Team's later Sonic Adventure titles. The system involves entities called Nightopians (dream-dwellers, sometimes referred to as "pians"). The game keeps track of the moods of the Nightopians (harming them will displease them, for example), and the game features an evolving music engine, allowing tempo, pitch, and melody to alter depending on the state of Nightopians within the level. It is also possible to merge Nightopians with the small Nightmaren enemies, creating a hybrid being called a Mepian. It is even possible through extensive controlled breeding that a 'King' Pian, or Superpian can be made. An expanded version of the A-life system was included in Nights: Journey of Dreams.

Controller

Nights was introduced alongside an optional game controller, included with most copies of the game. This gamepad featured an analog stick, among the first on any game console (launching just after the release of the Nintendo 64, which featured an analog stick on its standard control peripheral). The stick, D-pad and shoulder triggers were located in an arrangement similar to that of Sega's later Dreamcast controller.

Christmas Nights

Christmas Nights is a Christmas-themed two-level demo of Nights into Dreams that was released in December 1996. In Japan, it was part of a Christmas Saturn bundle. Elsewhere it was given away with the purchase of select Saturn games such as Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition, and was bundled in with issues of Sega Saturn Magazine, Game Players and Next Generation Magazine. The CD-ROMs given away on the front cover of Sega Saturn Magazine were missing the card slip case in which to keep the disc, and were instead supplied with a transparent plastic one. The game was also available for rent at Blockbuster Video locations in America. In the UK, Christmas Nights was not included with the official Sega Saturn Magazine until December 1997.

The Christmas Nights disc contains the full version of Claris' Spring Valley dream level from Nights into Dreams, which allows both Claris and Elliot to play through the area, something Elliot could not do previously as it was not his dream. Elliot's version of the level contains a different item layout than Claris'.

The story of Christmas Nights follows Elliot and Claris during the holiday season following their adventures with Nights. Though they both enjoy the Christmas season, they feel as if something is missing. Finding that the Christmas Star that usually sits at the top of the Twin Seeds Christmas tree is missing, the pair head off to Nightopia to find it. There, they meet up with Nights again and re-explore Spring Valley, which has now been Christmas-ified due to the kids' dreams of the holiday season. The trio of heroes must now take down a revived Gillwing and retrieve the Christmas Star from his lair.

The game uses the Saturn's internal clock to change elements of the game according to the date. In November and January, the title screen label "Nights: Limited Edition" is changed to "Winter Nights", with the lush greenery of the environment being replaced by white snow. During December, "Christmas Nights" mode is activated, resulting in further Christmas-themed alterations, such as item boxes becoming Christmas presents, Nightopians dressing in elf costumes, and Christmas trees replacing Ideya captures. The background music is replaced by an instrumental version of "Jingle Bells", as well as there being a "Christmas-like" rendition of the boss theme. Other cosmetic changes are visible on New Year's Day, and loading the game on April Fool's Day results in Reala replacing Nights as the playable character.

The disc features a number of unlockable bonuses such as character artwork. Further extra modes allow players to observe the status of the A-life system, experiment with the game's music mixer, time attack one Mare, or play the demo stage as Sega's mascot Sonic the Hedgehog. In the "Sonic the Hedgehog: Into Dreams" minigame, Sonic is only able to traverse the Spring Valley stage on foot, and the original game's Puffy boss is re-skinned as a "bouncy ball" version of Doctor Eggman. The music is a slightly remixed version of "Final Fever", the final boss battle music from the Japanese version of Sonic CD. It is interesting to note that this is Sonic's first true appearance in 3D, not Sonic Jam.

Music

The theme song, "Dreams Dreams" has become a recognizable component of the Nights franchise. There are many versions of the song found throughout the game, and subsequent games in the series. The song is a duet between a man and a woman, which features a call and answer chorus. In the first version of the game, the song's vocals probably represented Claris and Eliott. In the second game, the vocals of the modified vesion of the song probably represented Will, Helen, and their parents. The second version of the song featured in this game are the adults' version, sung by Curtis King, Jr. & Dana Calitri, and the children's version, sung by Cameron Earl Strother and Jasmine Ann Allen, which segues into the adults' version after the bridge. "Christmas Nights" features an acapella version sung by Marlon Saunders, Gabriel Morris and Issa Clemon.

The music of Nights has proven to be quite popular and has been remixed several times, both professionally and by fans.

Reception

At the time of its release, Nights into Dreams was the top-selling game for the Saturn, and was the 21st highest selling game in Japan for the year 1996 but failed to find the mass commercial appeal of Super Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot, both of which were launched around the same time. Most reviews in dedicated Saturn magazines praised the game, but those of some multi-platform websites and magazines were more critical.

Nights has appeared in several "greatest games" lists. In a January 2000 poll of readers of Computer and Video Games magazine, it appeared in 15th place in a list of the "100 greatest games" (directly behind Super Mario 64). Edge gave it a score of 8/10 in its original 1996 review of the game, and in its October 2003 issue the magazine's staff placed Nights in its list of the ten greatest platform games. EGM, in its "The Greatest 200 Videogames of Their Time" list, ranked the game 160th. Next Generation Magazine ranked the game 25th in its list of the "100 Greatest Games of All-Time" in the September 1996 issue. 1UP.com ranked the Game 3rd in its "Top Ten Cult Classics. IGN's 2007 top 100 games of all time ranked the game at 94/100.

Sequel

Demand for a sequel to Nights Into Dreams has been strong for many years. A game with the working title "Air Nights" was intended to use a tilt sensor in the Saturn analog pad, and development later moved to the Sega Dreamcast for a time, but eventually the project was discontinued. Aside from a handheld electronic game released by Tiger Electronics (which was also ported to Tiger's R-Zone console) and small minigames featured in several Sega titles, no full Nights sequel was released for a Sega console. Yuji Naka expressed his reluctance to develop a sequel, but also noted that he was interested in using Nights as a license "to reinforce Sega's identity".

Finally, on April 1, 2007, a sequel called Nights: Journey of Dreams was officially announced for the Wii. The official announcement followed items on the game published in several magazines and websites. The sequel is a Wii exclusive, making use of the system's motion-sensing controller,, as was initially planned for Air Nights. The gameplay involves the use of various masks, and features a multiplayer mode for two players in addition to WiiConnect24 online functions. The game was developed by Sega Studio USA, with Takashi Iizuka, one of the designers of the original game, as producer. It was released in Japan and the United States in December 2007, and in Europe and Australia on January 18, 2008.

Remake

Sega released a remake of the game for the PlayStation 2 in Japan on February 21, 2008. It includes 16:9 wide screen support, both a classic Sega Saturn graphics mode and a PS2 remake mode, an illustration gallery and a movie viewer mode. The game is available for a budget price, or the Nightopia Dream Pack, which includes a reprint of a picture book that was released in Japan alongside the original Saturn game.

The "Christmas Nights" level is included as an unlockable bonus.

The PS2 remake was only released in Japan, much to the dismay of many fans of the original in other countries.

Further appearances

A Nights handheld electronic game was released by Tiger Electronics, and a faithful port of it was later released for Tiger's short lived R-Zone console. Several Sega titles such as Sega SuperStars, Sonic Adventure and Sonic Pinball Party feature minigames themed around the character. Nights is an unlockable character in Sonic Riders, Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity and Sonic Shuffle. A minigame version of Nights into Dreams... is playable utilizing the GameCube-to-Game Boy Advance connectivity with Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Further small references to the game have been made in numerous other games by the company, including Shenmue, Burning Rangers, ChuChu Rocket!, Sonic Adventure 2, and Feel the Magic: XY/XX. Nights and Reala are also playable characters in Sega Superstars Tennis.

Comics

Archie Comics adapted the game into a three-issue comic book miniseries to test whether or not a Nights comic would sell well in North America. The series gained some popularity, but not quite enough to commit to a running series. The company later released a second 3-issue miniseries, continuing the story of the first, but this one also failed to gain enough sales to warrant an ongoing series.

See also

References

External links

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