I'm known for being 'the Sonic fan' on GamesRadar. So why is it that when I met Yuji Naka and there was time for him to sign just one of the whole bag of games I'd brought with me to the interview (y'know, just in case), I handed him my copy of Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams? Because Sonic is awesome - but NiGHTS is better. I mean it - NiGHTS into Dreams is a better videogame than Sonic The Hedgehog. When you've picked yourself up off the floor, I'll explain why.
I've deliberately held off doing an Appreciation Section on NiGHTS on TalkRadar UK or on the site because I don't want to bang on about it. But NiGHTS is quite literally off the Radar these days, so it's time to do this. And I've decided to 'appreciate' the full game and not my beloved Christmas NiGHTS because, firstly, it's not Christmas, and secondly, great though that game is, it's only a teaser for this - the main event.
Above: Contrary to popular belief, I don't own a Sonic suit. Weird circus jester get-up, however...
The game tells the story of two children, Claris and Elliot, who both live in Twin Seeds City, but have never met. They're young adolescents, full of the kind of angst that young adolescents invariably are. They dream of stardom, in musicals and baskeball respectively. But when they go to sleep, these dreams turn to nightmare. The fear of failure in an audition or on the basketball court manifests itself as winged demons, causing the children to run blindly through corridors of warping walls. It's a proper nightmare.
And then, out of the darkness... a light. A brilliant, cleansing light that warms the skin and fills the heart with hope. NiGHTS is here - and everything's going to be OK.
"There is no NiGHTS"
Crucially, as you probably noticed, the game explains all of this without any spoken dialogue. In fact, there's only one line of actual dialogue in the game "There is no NiGHTS", spoken by Reala (pictured), who is NiGHTS'... well, yes, 'evil twin' is the right expression. Although he doesn't have a goatee like most evil twins do. Go figure.
And he might actually be right. NiGHTS himself is shrouded in a carefully-woven veil of mystery - something completely unravelled within 30 seconds of screen time in the Wii sequel with that awful voice. It's not clear whether 'he' is a boy or a girl (he's actually both and neither) but I'm sticking with 'he' for simplicity's sake. The instruction manual ponders whether NiGHTS is a spirit or a memory... it doesn't really matter. What's certain is that he lives inside the children's dreams and needs their help as much as they need his.
Above: Look at Claris' awe and then NiGHTS with his outstretched hand. There's nothing like this around today
At the start of every level, your chosen child is set upon by a large group of enemies, who steal coloured orbs from you, named 'ideya'. Each of these orbs represents a personality trait but there's only one the Nightmaren can't take - courage. The rarest form of dream energy. Carry your remaining courage ideya to where NiGHTS is imprisoned on the hill and you dualise with him. To the player, that means you become NiGHTS - and you can fly.