Reviewed: January 1, 2008
Released: December 18, 2007
Gamers got their first look at a NiGHTS title back in 1996 with the release of NiGHTS into Dreams exclusively for the Sega Saturn. NiGHTS, the carefree heroine became SEGAís new mascot to compete with the ever popular plumbers. NiGHTS into Dreams quickly became a cult classic due to its unique gameplay and its own dedicated controller. Now over a decade later, NiGHTS returns in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for the Nintendo Wii.
You play as either William Taylor or Helen Cartwright each with their own independent stories. While their lives are unlinked they eventually meet up throughout the adventure. Will is an inspiring soccer player and Helen is studying to be a violinist like her mother. Both kids hail from the London inspired town of Bellbridge complete with a clock tower.
But soon something happens involving the kids and their parents. You must gather 4 different Ideya to set things right in the real world. Journey of Dreams takes place mainly in Nightopia, the home world of NiGHTS and the Nightopians.
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams while looking fully 3 Dimensional at first look is actually a 2D title using camera tricks to make it appear like it is. The original NiGHTS used this technology and it returns very much in style. I unfortunately missed out on the original NiGHTS title due to the lack of a Saturn, and now I can see why it did so well.
The interface of NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is simple yet very thought out. Most of the gameplay is done in the air when one of the two main characters ďdualizeĒ or merge with NiGHTS. There is however various 3D grounds missions where the children must venture through a level without the aid of their jester friend. This was an interesting mix up in the formula but I kind of felt it was out of place a bit. But it didnít make the adventure any less fun.
Every objective that you must complete in each mission is timed so there is not real room for lollygagging around. Your timer is shown at the top center of the screen and you have 180 seconds to complete objectives. In the top left corner is your Blue Chip Counter. Blue Chips are crystals made out of the light of the Ideya. The more Blue Chips you gather the higher your score will be at the end of the mission. Your current score is viewable on the upper right side of the screen.
During some missions namely the imprisoned NiGHTS ones, since she canít stay out of trouble, there is a course map shown on the center right of the screen. So basically you need to collect as many Blue Chips as you can and complete your objectives as fast as you can. To make things a bit more challenging, each mission has a grading system on how well you did per task. There are definite perks for beating each mission with a C rank or higher, but I wonít spoil the fun.
Sonic Team games have always had Rings in them one way or another, and go figure considering most of them are Sonic titles. Instead of serving as life, the oversized rings are your source of replenishing your Dash Gauge. The Dash Gauge actually serves two main purposes, throughout your adventure.
The first is to prohibit the constant use of Drill Dash, your means of attacking while flying, and the second is your timer for how long you can stay in one of NiGHTS persona forms. She can become a dolphin, rocket and even a dragon. Outside of the missions, these Personas can be used to gain access of hard to reach locations in the Dream Gate that she normally canít go. However to gain access to these locations you must do the flight training over and over again and you canít exit the training early.
Throughout you journey you will encounter Nightmarens that constantly get in your way. By making NiGHTS fly in a vertical circle you perform a Paraloop when the Twinkle Dust from NiGHTS hands completes a circle. Doing Paraloops around both Nightopians and Nightmarens will suck them in ďMy Dream.Ē I will cover that later on though. By tilting the Wii-mote to the left or right while flying will make NiGHTS do acrobatic feats in the air.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience but a few tasks and even bosses held my attention and made me kick myself for not having played a NiGHTS title before. One of my favorite missions is where you have to navigate your way through a mystical funhouse of sorts. It was more of a castle really, but the design was flawless. During this sequence and many others your Blue Chips serve another purpose. While on foot they act as a weapon and it takes two Chips to take an enemy out. The other thing that I highly enjoyed was the challenging bosses. The boss chambers were 2D but were seamlessly blended with 3D projectiles and traps.
The controls for NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams are sort of a hit and miss feature for the fabled title. You have about 4 different ways you can play and I found that I had to switch between them to complete some objectives. Playing with the Wii-mote alone is somewhat awkward and doesnít seem to function well with the gameplay, but adding the Nunchuk into the fray helps considerably. But nothing works better for NiGHTS than going old school. You can turn the Wii-mote sideways and use it like a NES controller or attach the Classic Remote and make use of that Left Analog stick.
You can also use a GameCube controller to play though itís not shown on the outer packaging. Switching back and forth is painless and the game auto detects which configuration youíre using without having to exit the game completely. I really liked the storylines because they had one important aspect of human life at heart. I would tell you what that is but, this is something best found out for yourself, especially during the holiday season.
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams may not have the beautiful graphics you see in Mario Galaxy, but the cleverly designed 2D environments and backdrops are out of this world. Eat your heart out Mario. Journey of Dreams has a certain style that I just canít put to words. The clever camera tricks and the seamless camera transformation draw you in and give you a breathtaking aerial assault.
The opening videos and sequences throughout the journey are well done, the only drawback is that they canít be skipped if you fail and have to start over. Even in the gameplay I noticed things like the Nightopians moving about independently and even the wicked hoping water. I know it sounds weird but youíll see what I mean early on in.
I have to give the original creators of NiGHTS big props for returning with an excellent musical score. Natfumi Hataya, of the original composers for the original NiGHTS returned to do the score for the sequel. The sound effects were top notch, but the voice acting kind of didnít do anything for me. It wasnít terrible but it wasnít that great either.
There were two music sequences in the lot that I absolutely loved. The first was the musical piece that I had to perform, which I later found out was titled ďDream, Dreams.Ē This song was apparently in the first title and itís a work of art. The second piece was during the last door lock before fighting Wizeman. All the boss fight music really puts you in the mode to send the evil ones flying back to where they came.
The original NiGHTS came from a time in gaming history where developers created short action packed adventures, instead of the epic journeys that we have today with games like Twilight Princess. Sonic Team went back to their roots to bring us a visual wonder.
Besides the story mode there is a multiplayer mode where two people can race against each other both in on and offline mode. There is the second play mode ď2P BattleĒ but this can only be played offline. The rules can be adjusted for more options of gameplay if so desired. I did have the opportunity to test out both on and offline play and I found it to be pretty enjoyable.
As I mentioned above there is a mode called ďMy DreamĒ. In My Dream you have your own personal garden that you can watch A-Lifeís (Nightopians or Nightmarens) as they scamper around. The more new A-Lifeís you bring her from in-game the more your garden will change its form and appearance. You can also visit otherís My Dreams via the Wi-Fi connection. As most Wii users are aware you can view the current weather via the WeatherNews from the Wii Menu. But NiGHTS utilizes the Wi-Fi connection even further than allowing you to play with other people. It will actually download the current weather conditions and input them into your My Dream. All Iíve seen so far is a bunch of clouds but Iím still hoping to see rain or snow.
Like the previous titles Journey of Dreams allows you to play the adventure from both sides. I first played as Helen and once I finished her mode, I turned right around and started Willís. You are definitely in for a magical treat with this one. NiGHTS; Journey of Dreams retails for $50 dollars, and is well worth every penny.
Having never played the original title I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As a Mario fan for years, I primarily stayed to one side of the fence as far as the Mario-Sonic rivalry goes. What I saw here was above my expectations considering I was expecting a Sonic clone. NiGHTS soars heads and tails above both of them.
Sometimes you have to be reminded of your roots to realize that there is more to games than just flashy explosions and blood soaked chainsaws. I highly recommend getting this title the next time you have the chance. I seriously doubt youíll be disappointed.