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