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Sega teases a NiGHTS picture on Facebook. But look what our resident Sega fan has spotted...

Sega has posted a screenshot on its official Facebook page, teasing something. Any long-term Sega fan will immediately recognise it as an environmental render from Stick Canyon - one of the final levels in 1996's NiGHTS into Dreams. Any long-term GamesRadar fan will know that NiGHTS into Dreams is one of my favourite games of all time. And... I'm confused. But first, have a look yourself:

Above: Stick Canyon, no mistake. But what else does this screen tell you?

Initial thoughts are the most obvious: It's a render from Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed, teasing the reveal of a NiGHTS-themed race track. But some elements of the picture don't add up. I'll number them:

Above: It's the same screenshot, only with numbers on it. Could you tell?

1) This is a 3D 'sky box' apparently made using the orignal flat 2D background from the Sega Saturn original. If you look closely, you can see that the 2D image is blurred slightly to cover up the fact that it's the original, comparatively low-res image.

2) These rocks are blocky and flat, with textures highly reminiscent of the 1996 CG images that accompanied the original game on its release.

3) This cactus is not only drawn in full 3D, it has modern graphical effects like a real-time shadow and a full reflection in the metal surface. It looks render-quality, way better than the 3D model in the PS2 remake and yet completely at odds with the flat dirt texture beneath it.

4) These screws are a complete mystery. Sega Saturn could never have rendered them in real-time, instead opting for flat textures of screws. These screws, however, are not perfectly rounded like you'd expect from a modern render. You can see the flat lines from the polygons that make up their 3D models. Basically, they're too good to be from an HD remake or even an HD version of the PS2 edition... but also too basic to be from a modern-day 3D render.

Above: The PS2 remake, running in HD through an emulator. Flat screw textures and a blocky cactus. This is not what is depicted in the new picture

5) Finally... there's no race track. The screws could denote the edge of the track, but then you'd be driving into that hill with the crane. Surely there would be some element of the racing in there like weapon pick-ups or speed boost panels?

So what ARE we looking at? Either it's the most authentic and lovingly-created All-Stars Racing Transformed track yet, or it's something else. With Sega closing many European branches right now and the company's own admission that it's only focusing on a few core franchises for boxed releases (of which NiGHTS is not one), it's highly unlikely that it is something else. Especially when NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams bombed at retail, effectively securing another ten-year wait for a second sequel.

But I look at that image and I can't help but hope. That said, I also hope for Shenmue III every time Sega teases anything, so I wouldn't get your hopes up too much. We wait with bated breath to see what was being teased. Hopefully the wait won't be too long.

Topics

Retro Sega

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16 comments

  • BlueScorpion91 - July 4, 2012 4:55 a.m.

    Could the image be a VITA game? If so then it could be a special VITA track.
  • BlueScorpion91 - July 4, 2012 4:56 a.m.

    Or even 3DS?
  • taokaka - July 4, 2012 5:33 a.m.

    After looking at a list of games sega have announced to be working on the only realistic possibility other than sonic and sega all stars racing is super monkey ball (unless it's a hidden stage for aliens colonial marines) however the problem with that is where are the edges? So my conclusion is that sega have decided to try a strange tactic which they rarely use and that is listening to their fans and giving them what they want, which in this case looks like a new nights....... or it could just be something boring like a track in sonic and sega all stars racing.
  • Odpaterson - July 4, 2012 5:48 a.m.

    It looks like a amateur VFX render: Low-res skybox, low-res normal/bump maps, ray-traced reflections. The other thing is that those cacti are identical 2D photos with an alpha transparency. You can tell because they're casting a shadow straight towards the camera while they're shaded as if being lit from the side. I would say this isn't realtime, in spite of the blocky screws. I think maybe it's just fan art?
  • taokaka - July 4, 2012 5:56 a.m.

    I doubt it would be fan art because sega posted it to their official facebook page but well done on spotting the flaws with the cacti, I didn't notice the shadowing when looking at it but now that you've pointed it out it's as clear as day.
  • GR_JustinTowell - July 4, 2012 6:28 a.m.

    Oooo... sprite cactus? Indeed identical sprite cacti? I see what you mean about the lighting. But surely it can't be a sprite. Surely. Not when the screws have been done in 3D.
  • GR_JustinTowell - July 4, 2012 6:34 a.m.

    I just made a cut-out in Photoshop of the closer one and overlaid it over the other. With a little rotation and a touch of distortion to make the edges overlap, it does indeed look like the same image. Very slightly different colours, but that could be a distance filter. I'm inclined to say sprites, yep.
  • Odpaterson - July 4, 2012 6:56 a.m.

    It is a really odd image. Very strange that Sega themselves would post it since it doesn't look like profession CGI but neither does it look like a realtime screen capture. The plot thickens...
  • TartanSpartan01 - July 4, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    this is getting a weeeee bit geeky now guys. You know companies like sega and nintendo only do 'let-downs' these days dont you? its going to be the crappiest most unexciting thing ever, deep down you all know this. And starting from now,if anybody opposes this view then they're gay.
  • BlueScorpion91 - July 4, 2012 8:11 a.m.

    Is this you attempt at rage-baiting? Tool!
  • ElwoodFiore - July 4, 2012 8:22 a.m.

    This is getting way too much hype for a bunch of horseshit..... If anything like this needs to come true its that fan made Hd majoras mask that looks niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice this? looks like im playing Cel damage on xbox. no ty
  • robotdickens - July 4, 2012 8:24 a.m.

    I think this is Sega being weird or trying to get guys like you riled up for whatever they have in store. Maybe it's something cool, maybe not.
  • ThatGamerDude - July 4, 2012 10:29 a.m.

    Call me crazy but one of the clouds near the left of the picture just above the hill looks like the Death Egg.
  • Fuzunga - July 4, 2012 11:24 a.m.

    Joystiq has pointed out something interesting... This render is not new, and can be found on a couple of NiGHTS fansites. http://www.joystiq.com/2012/07/03/sega-teases-something-to-do-with-nights/
  • AuthorityFigure - July 5, 2012 3:02 a.m.

    How do we know it's a screenshot and not just a mock-up or artistic shot?
  • wheresmymonkey - July 5, 2012 8:48 a.m.

    They said they weren't focusing on Boxed releases. they didn't say anything about Digital. Could be a new Nights for XBLA/PSN. Well thats what blind optomism is telling me.

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