Nights into Dreams...
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|Nights into Dreams...|
European cover art
Sega Studio China (PS2)
|Release date(s)||Sega Saturn
NA 2 October 2012
EU 3 October 2012
JP 4 October 2012
Xbox Live Arcade
Nights into Dreams... (ナイツ Naitsu?, written as NiGHTS into Dreams...) is an action video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was first released for the Sega Saturn on 5 July 1996 in Japan, 20 August 1996 in North America and 7 October 1996 in Europe. The game was re-released for the PlayStation 2 on 21 February 2008 exclusively in Japan and a high-definition version was released worldwide for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade in October 2012, with a Microsoft Windows version later released via Steam on 17 December 2012.
The story follows two children entering a dream world, where they are aided by the protagonist, Nights. The central game element is flight, achieved through 3D graphics and a combination of 2D and 3D gameplay. It was one of the first non-Sonic the Hedgehog titles developed by Sonic Team, with development led by Sonic creators Yuji Naka and Naoto Ōshima.
The game was critically acclaimed upon release. A direct sequel, Nights: Journey of Dreams, was released for the Wii in 2007. The game was released with an exclusive analogue controller, called the Saturn 3D controller.
Every night, all human dreams are played out in Nightopia and Nightmare, the two parts of the dream world. In Nightopia, distinct aspects of dreamers' personalities are represented by luminous coloured spheres known as "Ideya". However, the evil ruler of Nightmare, Wizeman the Wicked, is stealing this dream energy from sleeping visitors to gather power to take control of Nightopia and eventually the real world. To achieve this, he creates numerous beings called "Nightmaren", including two "Level One" Nightmaren, acrobatic jester-like, flight-capable beings called Nights and Reala. However, Nights rebels against Wizeman's plans, and is punished by being imprisoned inside an Ideya palace, a gazebo-like container for dreamers' Ideya.
One day, Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair, two children from the city of Twin Seeds, go through failures. Elliot likes to play basketball, but is challenged by kids from another class and loses. Claris wants to sing in a play but is overcome by stage-fright in front of the judges. That night, they both suffer nightmares that replay the events. They escape into Nightopia and find that they both possess the rare Red Ideya of Courage, the only type Wizeman cannot steal. They release Nights, who tells them about dreams, and Wizeman and his plans, and the three begin a journey to stop Wizeman and restore peace to Nightopia.
- Nights (ナイツ Naitsu?)
- Nights is a Nightmaren created by Wizeman to steal Red Ideya; however, Nights betrays Wizeman and is sealed in the Ideya Palace until Elliot or Claris Dualizes with them to get the Ideya back. Nights wears a purple jester style hat and outfit, with a Red Ideya shard shaped like a diamond on their chest. Sonic Team specifically designed Nights as an androgynous character; Takashi Iizuka commented, "Impressions of the character with regards to gender are totally up to the player." Nights does not speak in the game, other than making noises upon being injured.
- Claris Sinclair (クラリス・シンクレア Kurarisu Shinkurea?)
- A talented singer, Claris' ambition is to perform on stage. She auditions for a part in the events commemorating the centenary of the city of Twin Seeds. However, upon standing in front of the judges, she is overcome by stage fright and does not perform well. Claris loses all hope of getting the role, and when she falls asleep that night, the evil spirits of Nightmare seize upon that fear, placing Claris in a nightmare version of the audition. Fleeing from the stage, she suddenly finds herself in a lush spring valley, with Nights calling to her.
- Elliot Edwards (エリオット・エドワーズ Eriotto Edowāzu?)
- Elliot is a budding basketball player, enjoying a game with his friends one day. A group of older high school students arrive and challenge them to a game, causing Elliot to suffer a humiliating defeat on the court. That night, a nightmare replays the events, and Elliot runs blindly into the world of Nightopia, where he discovers the imprisoned Nights.
- Wizeman (ワイズマン Waizuman?)
- Wizeman is the main antagonist of the game. He is the evil ruler of Nightmare, the dark half of the dreamworld. Wizeman is the creator of the Nightmaren: Nights, Reala, Jackle, Clawz, Gulpo, Gillwing and Puffy, as well as many minor maren seen in the levels. When Nights rebelled against Wizeman, Reala became Wizeman's henchman. Wizeman is the final boss of the game; appearing as hollow clothing and six hands, each with an eye in the palm. He has an array of mystical powers and abilities. During the boss battle, he brings Nights, Elliot and Claris into different locations.
- Reala (リアラ Riara?)
- Reala (pronounced ree-AL-ah) is Wizeman's most trusted servant. Unlike Nights, Reala is cruel, brutal, clever, and completely loyal to Wizeman. Reala was responsible for Nights' imprisonment in the Ideya Palace. At the start of the boss fight against him, the character delivers one of the only two spoken lines in the entire game, actually a made-up word created by Takashi Iizuka.
NiGHTS into Dreams... is split into seven levels, referred to as "Dreams". The levels are distributed equally between the two child characters; three are unique to Claris, three to Elliot, and each play through an identical final seventh level, "Twin Seeds". Initially, only Claris' Spring Valley and Elliot's Splash Garden are available, and successful completion of one of these unlocks the next level in that child's path. Previously completed stages may be revisited to improve the player's high scores; a "C" grade in all the selected child's levels must be achieved to unlock the relevant Twin Seeds stage for that character.
Each level is split up into four "Mares" set in Nightopia and a boss fight which takes place in Nightmare. In each level, players initially control Claris or Elliot, who immediately have their Ideyas of hope, growth, intelligence and purity stolen from them by Wizeman's minions, leaving behind only their Ideya of courage. The goal of each Mare is to recover one of the stolen Ideya by collecting 20 blue chips and delivering them to the cage holding the Ideya, which will overload and release the orb it holds. It is possible to complete some of the levels' goals by wandering around the landscape of Nightopia as Claris or Elliot (pursued by an egg-shaped alarm clock which will wake up the child and end the level if it catches the player), but the majority of the gameplay centres on Nights' flying sequences, triggered by walking into the Ideya Palace near the start of each level so that the child merges with the imprisoned Nights.
In the flying sections, the player controls Nights' flight along a particular predetermined route through each Mare. Players can only fly in the 2D plane of the screen, with their actual motion through the level determined by the automatic camera angle at that point in the Mare. The player has only a limited period available before Nights falls to the ground and turns back into Claris or Elliot, and each collision with an enemy subtracts five seconds from the time remaining. After retrieving the Ideya in a Mare, the player can either return to the Ideya Palace to progress to the next Mare, or continue flying more laps of the Mare (with replenished items) to greatly increase the points score. Scoring points is the main source of the games' replay value. The ability to fly more laps was removed from the sequel, Journey of Dreams.
Whilst flying, Nights can use a boost to travel faster, as well as defeat certain enemies littered across the field. Grabbing onto certain enemies will cause Nights to spin around, launching Nights and the enemy in the direction the boost is pressed. Various acrobatic manoeuvres can be performed, including the "Paraloop", whereby flying around in a complete circle and connecting the trail of stars left in Nights' wake will cause any items within the loop to be attracted towards Nights. The game features a combo system known as "Linking", whereby actions such as collecting items and flying through rings are worth more points when performed in quick succession than they are individually. Flying through certain special rings activates a short period of time in which extra points can be earned through the performance of various aerobatic stunts.
At the end of each Mare, players are given a rank (between A and F) based on their score, and after all four Mares are cleared an overall rank for the level is displayed. Nights is then transported to Nightmare for a boss fight against one of Wizeman's "Level Two" Nightmarens (not including Reala). Each boss fight has a time limit, and the game will end if the player runs out of time during the battle. Upon winning the boss fight, the player is awarded a score multiplier based on how quickly the boss was defeated, which is then applied to the score earned in the Nightopia section to produce the player's final score for that Dream.
Aside from the immediate game mission, the game also contains an artificial life ("A-Life") system, a precursor to the Chao featured in Sonic Team's later Sonic Adventure titles. The system involves entities called Nightopians. The game keeps track of the moods of the Nightopians (harming them will displease them, for example), and the game features an evolving music engine, allowing tempo, pitch, and melody to alter depending on the state of Nightopians within the level. It is also possible to merge Nightopians with the small Nightmaren enemies, creating a hybrid being called a Mepian. It is even possible through extensive controlled breeding to produce a "King" Pian, or Superpian. An expanded version of the A-life system was included in Nights: Journey of Dreams.
Nights into Dreams... was introduced alongside an optional game controller, included with most copies of the game, called the Saturn 3D controller. This gamepad features an analogue stick (launching just after the release of the Nintendo 64 in Japan, which features a control stick on its standard controller) and analogue triggers.
The concept for the game originated during the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. According to Yuji Naka, Nights into Dreams... was inspired by various titles and characters from Japanese television, including Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère. Naoto Ohshima added, "We had a lot of different ideas about how to portray the whole idea of flying. One idea was that a little bird who couldn't fly grows into a big bird and then has the freedom of being able to fly. But we decided against the whole animal related idea as this would be a direct comparison to Sonic. So we decided a more human like character was a better idea."
Sega released a remake of Nights into Dreams... for the Sony PlayStation 2 in Japan on 21 February 2008. It includes 16:9 wide screen support, both a classic Sega Saturn graphics mode and a Sony PS2 remake mode, an illustration gallery and a movie viewer mode. The game is available for a budget price, or the Nightopia Dream Pack, which includes a reprint of a picture book that was released in Japan alongside the original Saturn game. The Christmas Nights levels are included as an unlockable bonus, playable after the main game is completed. In keeping with the time-oriented surprises of the Saturn original, the remake features Nights, Elliot and Claris wearing special seasonal clothing during certain holidays, such as party costumes during Halloween in Mystic Forest or swim-wear during two special days in summer in Splash Garden.
The Sony PlayStation 2 version of the game was released only in Japan.
A high definition port of the PS2 version was released for PlayStation Network on 2 October 2012 and for Xbox Live Arcade on 5 October 2012. A Microsoft Windows version was released via Steam on 17 December 2012. This version of the game introduces online high score leaderboards, and, like the PS2 version, includes the option to play either with enhanced graphics or with the original Saturn version's graphics. The HD version also includes Christmas Nights; but like before, the original game's two player versus mode, and Christmas Nights ' Sonic the Hedgehog level were removed.
The game was previewed in the May 1996 issue of Sega Saturn Magazine, which compared it to Super Mario 64 and described Nights as "one of the best games you've ever seen in your life." It was also previewed in the June 1996 issue of Computer and Video Games, which described it as "one of the most impressive and innovative 3D games we've ever seen" and noted that an analogue controller "similar to the N64 pad" was "designed for it."
Nights into Dreams was the top-selling game for the Sega Saturn and the 21st highest-selling game in Japan during 1996.
Christmas Nights is a Christmas-themed two-level game of Nights into Dreams... that was released in December 1996. In Japan, it was part of a Christmas Sega Saturn bundle. Elsewhere it was given away with the purchase of select Sega Saturn games such as Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition, and was bundled in with issues of Sega Saturn Magazine, Game Players and Next Generation Magazine. The CD-ROMs given away on the front cover of Sega Saturn Magazine were missing the card slip case in which to keep the disc, and were instead supplied with a transparent plastic one. The game was also available for rent at Blockbuster Video locations in America. In the UK, Christmas Nights was not included with the official Sega Saturn Magazine until December 1997.
The Christmas Nights disc contains the full version of Claris' Spring Valley dream level from Nights into Dreams, which allows both Claris and Elliot to play through the area, something Elliot could not do previously as it was not his dream. Elliot's version of the level contains a different item layout than Claris'.
The story of Christmas Nights follows Elliot and Claris during the holiday season following their adventures with Nights. Though they both enjoy the Christmas season, they feel as if something is missing. Finding that the Christmas Star that usually sits at the top of the Twin Seeds Christmas tree is missing, the pair head off to Nightopia to find it. There, they meet up with Nights again and re-explore Spring Valley, which has now been Christmas-ified due to the kids' dreams of the holiday season. The trio of heroes must now take down a revived Gillwing and retrieve the Christmas Star from his lair.
The game uses the Saturn's internal clock to change elements of the game according to the date and time. In November and January, the title screen label "Nights: Limited Edition" is changed to "Winter Nights", with the lush greenery of the environment being replaced by white snow. During December, "Christmas Nights" mode is activated, resulting in further Christmas-themed alterations, such as item boxes becoming Christmas presents, Nightopians dressing in elf costumes, and Christmas trees replacing Ideya captures. The background music is replaced by an instrumental version of "Jingle Bells", as well as there being a "Christmas-like" rendition of the boss theme. During the "Winter Nights" period, the weather in Spring Valley will change according to what hour it is. Other cosmetic changes are visible on New Year's Day and Halloween, and loading the game on April Fool's Day results in Reala replacing Nights as the playable character.
The disc features a number of unlockable bonuses such as character artwork. Further extra modes allow players to observe the status of the A-life system, experiment with the game's music mixer, time attack one Mare, or play the demo stage as Sega's mascot Sonic the Hedgehog. In the "Sonic the Hedgehog: Into Dreams" minigame, Sonic is only able to traverse the Spring Valley stage on foot, and the original game's Puffy boss is re-skinned as a "bouncy ball" version of Doctor Robotnik. The music is a slightly remixed version of "Final Fever", the final boss battle music from the Japanese and European version of Sonic CD. The Christmas Nights content is playable in the HD version after the game has been cleared once.
A game with the working title "Air Nights" was intended to use a tilt sensor in the Saturn analogue pad, and development later moved to the Dreamcast for a time, but eventually the project was discontinued. Aside from a handheld electronic game released by Tiger Electronics (which was also ported to Tiger's R-Zone console) and small minigames featured in several Sega titles, no full Nights sequel was released for a Sega console. Yuji Naka expressed his reluctance to develop a sequel, but also noted that he was interested in using Nights as a license "to reinforce Sega's identity".
On 1 April 2007, a sequel called Nights: Journey of Dreams was officially announced for the Wii. The official announcement followed items on the game published in several magazines and websites. The sequel is a Wii exclusive, making use of the system's motion-sensing controller, as was initially planned for Air Nights. The gameplay involves the use of various masks, and features a multiplayer mode for two players in addition to WiFi online functions. The game was developed by Sega Studio USA, with Takashi Iizuka, one of the designers of the original game, as producer. It was released in Japan and the United States in December 2007, and in Europe and Australia on 18 January 2008.
In 2010, Takashi Iizuka commented that he would be very interested in making a third Nights game, should Sega's management decide to develop one.
Claris and Eliot make a cameo appearance in Sonic Team's Burning Rangers, with Eliot sending the Rangers a message thanking them for saving him, and telling them about his friend, NiGHTS. A Nights handheld electronic game was released by Tiger Electronics, and a port of it was later released for Tiger's short lived R-Zone console. Nights-themed pinball areas feature in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Pinball Party. The Sony PlayStation 2 EyeToy title, Sega SuperStars, features a minigame based on Nights in which Nights is controlled using the player's body. Nights is an unlockable character in Sonic Riders and Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity. Nights and Reala also makes a cameo appearance in Sonic Shuffle when the Sega Dreamcast system's date is set to Christmas Eve or April Fools' Day, respectively. A minigame version of Nights into Dreams... is playable utilising the Nintendo GameCube-to-Game Boy Advance connectivity with Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Following a successful fan campaign by nightsintodreams.com, Nights was integrated into Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing as the flagman, and Nights and Reala appear as playable characters in Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, the latter of which also features a Nights into Dreams...-themed racetrack. The limited Deadly Six edition of SEGA's Sonic Lost World features a NIGHTS-inspired stage, named ``Nightmare Zone``, as DLC. In this stage, Sonic must face off against the aforementioned Deadly Six in boss fights, each of the fights being from the game, albeit reskinned with boss characters from Nights Into Dreams.... It also contains other features from NIGHTS, such as one part of the stage being based on the flying sections.
Archie Comics adapted Nights into Dreams... into a three-issue comic book miniseries to test whether or not a Nights comic would sell well in North America. The first mini-series was loosely based on the game, with Nights being specifically identified as a male despite the character's androgynous design. The company later released a second three-issue miniseries, continuing the story of the first, but the series didn't gain enough sales to warrant an ongoing series. The series would later be added to a list of guest franchises featured in Archie Comics' Worlds Unite crossover between its Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man titles. 
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