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NiGHTS into Dreams HD is real, beautiful and coming to PSN, XBLA and PC. First trailer inside

After Sega's big Facebook tease that we dissected yesterday, Sega fans' dreams have actually come true. Saturn classic NiGHTS into Dreams is coming to Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network and PC this autumn in full HD. We've got screens. We've got video. We've got... no idea what that Facebook screenshot was from. Most likely 1996. But no matter, look at the first trailer of NiGHTS in HD:

In case you're unfamiliar with Sega's little jester, NiGHTS into Dreams came out in 1996 on Sega Saturn. It was the game that Sonic Team made instead of making a Sonic game for the new hardware. Its flowing movement was programmed by Yuji Naka - the man who programmed the original Sonic The Hedgehog, which is why it's so fluid - noticeably so when compared to the Naka-less Wii sequel.

The game is short in terms of length, with only seven unique levels (all of which are here in this HD release), each split into four sections followed by a boss - the designs for which still stand tall among videogame's greatest:

Above: The new HD version of NiGHTS. Look at the high-res textures... not Puffy's boobs

But in terms of its scoring system and the depth afforded by essentially very simple controls means that there's years' worth of depth if you want it. But what are we getting? Is it really an all-new remake with cutting-edge graphics as suggested by that teaser? 

Well, no. The new version of NiGHTS appears to be an HD port of the Japan-only PS2 version of the game. To its credit, that iteration was itself a full remake of the original with new 3D models for the main characters, 3D enemies instead of the old 2D sprites, as well as improved textures, frame-rate and special effects. And videos on YouTube of that game running through an HD emulator made us wish Sega would HD it up and release it as a digital arcade title. And hey - that's exactly what they've done!

Above: Splash Garden now has proper transparency effects. Mmmm... watery

The great news is that a port of the Saturn version is going to be included as well, as it was in the PS2 release, although it's been put through a modern filter to smooth off some of the rough edges that you may not remember if you only played it in 1996. I loaded up the original last night (trying to find the exact spot that teaser screen was taken from, but to no avail) and I must say, on my 40-inch HD TV, it's starting to look mighty rough.

Above: The original next to the new 'Saturn' mode in the HD game, with the fully polygonal HD remake underneath

The other good news is that, assuming all the content from the PS2 remake is going to be included, Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams (a two-level free demo that we still play sometimes) will likely be included if you can get an A grade on every level. That hasn't been confirmed, but it makes sense - it's already in the code. The Saturn version already supported widescreen output, which has naturally been preserved - as has the close-in camera angle.

Above: Stick Canyon, looking great, but not quite as good as that teaser image implied

So. Is this going to be enough to keep notoriously hard-to-please Sega fans happy? Yes, thank you very much. Those who went out of their way to import a PS2 copy are basically going to buy anything released with the NiGHTS name on it and online high score tables will be enough to keep this fresh and exciting for them. Everyone else will get the graphically superior version of a modernised iteration of one of the best games ever. And if it sells well, maybe Sega will rethink their stance on another sequel.

Above: How crisp does this look?! Probably bewildering if you've never played it, mind

And after all, this is genuine NiGHTS into Dreams without a hint of Kinect, PS Move or anything new to detract from one of the best-designed scoring systems ever conceived. No stupid voice acting, no 'Mindsight', no weird touching to "du-al-iiiiise". Just Sonic Team's most creative game ever. If you want to read more about it, I already wrote three pages about it in our Classic Game Appreciation Section.

Here's hoping Sega Rally HD is next on the list. Oh, and seeing as somebody at Sega apparently is listening to fan requests... can we have a Vita port too, please? Ta.

Topics

hd remake Sega

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17 comments

  • wheresmymonkey - July 6, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    I thought they'd already done Sega Rally. The current gen version contained lots of the classic tracks anyway. I'd like them To do something a little more off the beaten path next. A HD version of DRagonforce with the sequel finally translated into English would be top of my list. Failing that a new Streets of Rage, But thinking about how the Golden Axe rebbot turned out. Maybe not.
  • cooldevi - July 5, 2012 5:26 p.m.

    Square Enix should take a look at this and learn.
  • GR_JustinTowell - July 6, 2012 2:09 a.m.

    Agreed. An old game doesn't necessarily have to have current-gen grade visual upgrades everywhere, in fact a lot of the charm comes from the efforts made to create believeable game worlds with only a few limited building blocks. This PS2 upgrade is clearly good enough to work in HD. But could Squeenix remake FFVII and resist giving it the full works? Doubtful ;)
  • taokaka - July 5, 2012 4:05 p.m.

    Looks awesome and I do hope a vita version gets made because this looks to be perfect for it, but I'm hoping a new streets of rage can cut in line in front of sega rally.
  • garnsr - July 5, 2012 3:46 p.m.

    Nights might actually be fun with Kinect or Move. It's good fun with the Saturn orb-shaped stick, but I don't know how it'll feel with a Dual Shock stick instead.
  • GR_JustinTowell - July 6, 2012 1:09 a.m.

    It feels fine, at least going off the PS2 version. There is a little less sense of inertia in the PS2 version, but you get the res'd up Saturn one too. Crucially, unlike the Gamecube and Wii controllers, the PS2 stick doesn't have 8-way notches at its edges, which gives NiGHTS the same 360 degree control he had on Saturn. It'll be OK :)
  • Marcunio88 - July 5, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    I really love how enthusiastic you are for your favourite old games Justin. It's succeeded in rubbing off on me and I'll definitely be getting this when it's released. To be honest I've wanted to play it for years but this just makes it a lot easier. Also sega rally on XBLA/PSN would kick so much ass... Game over yeaaaaah!
  • fuzzybunny566 - July 5, 2012 12:37 p.m.

    biggest question...will the Christmas Nights special stuff be included? I wish i still had that disc that came with my issue of Ultra Game Players back in the day, but what that offered was just so damn cool at the time.
  • Darkhawk - July 5, 2012 12:17 p.m.

    Einhander, anyone?
  • bass88 - July 5, 2012 11:14 a.m.

    Neat. If Sega bother to re-release Sega Rally Championship and Die Hard Arcade, I won't need to take the Saturn off the shelf anymore. Panzer Dragoon Saga would be nice but I read they lost the source code for it :( On a sidenote Mr. Towell, is it worth picking up the sequel? It has a good review on this website but in your retrospective for the original you do criticise, but only for it's storytelling. If the story is just the weak point then I can happily skip it.
  • GR_JustinTowell - July 5, 2012 11:22 a.m.

    Hmmm... there's a lot of unneccessary fluff to wade through in the Wii sequel and the voices are pretty bad... but I did play through and collect everything and enjoyed it quite a lot. Not as much as the original, but if you have a Gamecube pad, it plays well.
  • bass88 - July 5, 2012 2:59 p.m.

    Thanks. I do have a GameCube Pad (couldn't get used to the Wii controls for Resident Evil 4) so I will pick it up. It's only €3 which is dirt cheap, I know, but I needed to know if it was worth spending hours on.
  • GR_JustinTowell - July 5, 2012 3:11 p.m.

    Yeah. The bosses may be retreads of the old ones, but they're still really strong, and some of the levels are brilliant. It's just split up into missions, which means a lot of the old game's mechanics are redundant. Nice atmosphere, though... when the characters aren't talking :)
  • Cloudiology - July 5, 2012 10:22 a.m.

    jesus justin.. imagine sega rally championship blaring out of our vitas on the bus/in the park/anywhere... wow... omnom
  • lilj805 - July 5, 2012 9:45 a.m.

    This and Okami are are going to be my next purchases.
  • GarcianSmith - July 5, 2012 9:14 a.m.

    Holy shit balls. I need this in my life right now. NiGHTS is perhaps one the best games I played on the Saturn (along with Burning Rangers and THE best version of Quake on consoles). Everybody: buy it. We might get a sequel.
  • thatnerdguy1 - July 5, 2012 9:13 a.m.

    Steam? Sold!

Showing 1-17 of 17 comments

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