Dec 18, 2007
Consider this Sonic Team's official pinch: You're not dreaming. After over a decade of fevered anticipation, a new NiGHTS is finally here. Few they may be, fans of the original Sega Saturn game have always held the franchise in the highest regard, and to that proud brood we can happily say that everything you loved about Into Dreams is here to behold on the Wii's NiGHTs: Journey of Dreams. Majestically soaring through hallucinatory landscapes with the power of (slightly) unrestrained flight makes the jump masterfully.
Essentially, NiGHTS is almost a sidescroller, but you can now maneuver beyond the doldrums of left and right, launching headlong into the world of up, down, and everything in between. From the lovably odd character designs, to a soundtrack that's equal parts soaring and soothing; everything re-imagined, or inspired by the original game is just as endearing as ever. Bounding through the air, collecting orbs while linking plentiful varieties of loops and rings, is still wonderful beyond compare. And to that extent, Sega has cranked out one of the most distinctive and charming titles available on any console.
It's important to mention the lasting appeal for of the original game, as you're likely to encounter a lot of excuses made on behalf of the new NiGHTs. After all, this is one of the more anxiously awaited updates in recent memory. But the truth is newcomers are going to dislike the exact same things the fanboys hate. And much of our collective revulsion can be aimed squarely at the new stuff, particularly the added stories and voice acting. It's not only unnecessary, it's also horrible - filled with the worst faux British accents as well as some of the most unintentionally creepy, cringe-inducing cut scenes ever, ever, ever!
Why the developers felt the need to justify the unparalleled joy of flying through elaborate dreamscapes with this drivel is beyond us, and it'll probably be the subject of plenty of ridicule throughout the internet (We're working on it!) The main character, NiGHTS, and his/her/its defiance for gravity was reason our aged Saturns reserved a coveted AV input, and the gargantuan Rune of a controller still commands a hefty sum on eBay... not the freakin' kids! And the game really drags whenever you have to take control of either physics-bound tots. Dull, lengthy and ugly have no place in NiGHTS game, consarnit.
Adding to the unfortunate newness... the motion controls aren't broken, but man, do they suck. You're supposed to point your Mindsight (fancy for "Circle") in the direction you want your Hermaphro-jester, but you allotted an extremely tiny field, and the self-rotating camera synonymous with the gameplay means that "direction" is constantly changing. Even the analog stick on the Nunchuck doesn't fare as well as the Classic controller. No big deal if ya got one, but still a disturbing trend currently bleeding across the Wii landscape.
Okay, now that we're done heaping the negativity, let's try and remember that the core of NiGHTS flight is unhindered and right as rain. It's still "on rails" but by no means inhibited. Each character, Will or Hanna, has three exclusive levels broken into five missions where the tykes can work out their inner demons. The boss stages are also as distinctive as they are delightfully nonsensical, and make for some of the most interesting challenges seen on the Wii.
The more striking and memorable stages tend to be the ones inspired by the first game, the forest, the water garden, etc. But there are some welcome additions such as the combo-birthing, ring-shitting Octopaw, as well as the new underwater Dolphin transmogrification and Rocket dash abilities which you'll need for your final encounter.
Appearances can be deceiving, and Journey of Dreams is far deeper than most will ever know. Sure, you could scrape by on D grades, but repeated play is where the game gets serious, hardcore, even. Scoring As and Bs is where the longevity sets in, shifting the attention focus from lethargic wonderment to white-knuckled precision. Focusing on the highest combo, finding hidden items and achieving the quickest time is where NiGHTS signature replayability comes in. Oh, and you'll have to perform a C grade or better in every level to unlock the last Ideya and secret ending.
NiGHTS really soars when it's in the air, maintaining the essence of the original game. Some of the crappier additions send it into a bit of a nose dive, but overall the game rights itself with its bold originality and a unique charm that's unlike anything else out there.
Visually, the game has its gorgeous moments of sugar-sweet eye-candy, although many areas suffer from severe last-gen blandness. But hey, Super Mario Galaxy set the bar pretty damned high. So, if you've already tasted all 120 Stars worth of snacky happiness and yearn for more of the weightless fantastic, then NiGHTs: Journey of Dreams is totally worth the lack of sleep.