Nights: Journey of Dreams
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|Nights: Journey of Dreams|
European cover art
Nights: Journey of Dreams (Japanese: ナイツ 〜星降る夜の物語〜 Hepburn: Naitsu: Hoshifuru Yoru no Monogatari?), stylised NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, is an action video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the Wii video game console. It is the sequel to the 1996 Sega Saturn title Nights into Dreams..., and was released in Japan and North America in December 2007, and in Australia and Europe the following month.
Like the original, the game is set in the dream world of Nightopia, which is under threat from nightmare beings called Nightmaren, and the gameplay is based around the flight of a jester-like rebel Nightmaren named Nights.
Much like in the first game, the primary gameplay mechanic is to glide, spiral and loop through a variety of worlds, blasting through rings and gathering orbs. Special power ups can transform Nights' form into a dolphin, a dragon, or a rocket, to reach areas not accessible otherwise. There are also platform stages where the player controls one of the children. There is a variety of gameplay styles, and Nights is not playable in every level. Unlike the original game, the player is not able to continue flying more laps of the Mare once the course is completed.
The game features three different control options: the Wii Remote as a standalone controller, the Wii Remote in combination with the Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, and the GameCube controller.
The game features a deeper version of the level structure from into Dreams... The player starts by choosing one of two dreamers, the game's main characters, and from a central hub area called the Dream Gate, they choose one of seven worlds they wish to play. When a player first enters a new world, they are automatically given the world's first mission. After successfully completing this mission and beating the world's boss, more missions are opened up, which can be chosen when the player again enters this world.
When a world has been chosen, the player starts out as one of the dreamers. While the game's main objective is playing with Nights, the dreamers can also explore the world, albeit with only a limited amount of time until they are chased by the Awakers; if the dreamer is caught by three Awakers, the game is over. By opening up treasure chests, players can extend the time with a dreamer. When the player wants to start playing the level with Nights, they need to find and climb into Nights' cage, causing the dreamer to dualise with them. There are four levels for each character, plus a staircase in the dream gate leading to the finale of the game.
The gameplay involves the use of "persona masks" that transform Nights and gives it new abilities. With some of the persona masks, Nights is able to transform into the mask's form with the dreamer, while some are used without the dreamer. The three personas received throughout the game are:
- Dolphin Nights: allows the ability to go underwater. It is received after defeating either Donbalon or Girania.
- Rocket Nights: allows the ability to travel at very high speeds. It is received after defeating either Chamelan or Bomamba.
- Dragon Nights: allows the ability to ignore the effects of strong winds. It is received after defeating either Cerberus or Queen Bella.
In the final fight against Wizeman for both Dreamers, all three personas are used in a random order. Two additional persona masks are owned by Nights and Reala, but the powers of these masks are never shown.
The idea of persona masks was inspired by the first game, Nights into Dreams..., where Nights transforms into a bobsled on the Frozen Bell stage, inflates on the Soft Museum stage, and grows flippers on the Splash Garden stage. In Journey of Dreams, it can also transform into a boat on the Pure Valley stage and a roller coaster car on the Lost Park stage.
The Speed mode can be played through three modes:
- Nearby Friend with another player on the same console.
- With a Friend Far Away for online play with friends.
- Random Character in the World for a random challenge online with anyone in the world.
The game also keeps track of high scores in the single player levels and publishes them via an online scoreboard. When the player selects one of the two stories and checks their record list, the player can choose to update their scores and show their online rank. These features are no longer available since the discontinuation of the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection.
The Artificial Life (A-Life) feature from Nights into Dreams... returns in Journey of Dreams, known as "My Dream". This is a feature where the player can capture, raise and combine the inhabitants of the world of Nightopia and Nightmaren in their self-developed sandbox environment.
The Nightopians outside of the My Dream world act with similar artificial intelligence to how they did in the first game: they will follow the children if fed blue chips, and will panic if Nightmarens (other than Nights) are nearby. Additionally, in the Nightopias, one can make a creation called a Mepian if they manage to have a Nightmaren make physical contact with a Nightopian, a feature also found in the previous game. The game uses features from the Forecast Channel on the Wii, changing the weather conditions in the My Dream world according to real-world weather conditions. There will also be special content made available during certain days, such as the holiday season.
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". The evil ruler of Nightmare, Wizeman the Wicked, is stealing this dream energy from sleeping visitors in order to gather power and take control of Nightopia and eventually the real world. To achieve this, he creates five beings called "Nightmaren": jester-like, flight-capable beings, which include Jackle, Clawz, Gulpo, Gillwing and Puffy as well as many minor maren. He also creates two "Level One" Nightmaren: 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.
William Taylor and Helen Cartwright are the two new chosen dreamers. Will is an aspiring football player, while Helen is a prodigy violinist. Both children live in the city of Bellbridge (a fictionalised version of London), and are close to their respective parents. However, the closeness between them has changed over the years; Helen has chosen to spend more time with her friends than with her mother practising the violin, a choice which has begun to fill her with guilt, while Will's father is transferred to another city for work and leaves his son by himself. Both children suffer individual nightmares and come under attack by the Nightmaren, who chase them into the world of Nightopia. There, the two children separately meet a wise Owl and Nights, who has the ability to combine with the children, allowing them to share Nights' body and fly through the skies. Learning that Wizeman is plotting to take over the dream world and then emerge into the real world, the children and Nights resolve to stop Wizeman, but face hindrance from the Nightmaren he commands, particularly Nights's former comrade Reala.
The children's stories are unique, though they share similar structures. The story reaches its climax as a stairway appears at the Dream Gate and Helen and Nights ascend, only to be trapped by Wizeman himself and pulled into darkness. Will arrives too late and dives in after them, arriving in the night skies above Bellbridge, where he finds that he now has the ability to fly alone without Nights using his Red Ideya. He rescues Helen, and the two head off to save Nights, who has been imprisoned at the top of Bellbridge's clock tower. Reala shows up to stop their efforts and accepts Nights' challenge to one final showdown between them (if the condition below is met). Defeating him, the trio prepare to face Wizeman, and Nights dualises with both of the children. Will-Nights and Helen-Nights defeat Wizeman, who assures them that as long as humans have darkness in their hearts, he will never truly be destroyed. The next day, the children separately accomplish their goals; Helen plays onstage with her mother at a recital to a thunderous applause and sees her friends in the audience, while Will scores the winning goal for his soccer team after seeing that his father has come back to see his game.
As with ...into Dreams, if the player manages to get a C Rank or higher on all missions in both stories, they will see the secret ending; when Nights and the children defeat Wizeman, he is destroyed. Since Wizeman keeps all of his creations alive, Nights vanishes in a white light, bowing as if at the end of a performance, and the children wake up crying. That evening, Helen plays "Dream Dreams" on the violin for her mother at an outdoor stage, while Will celebrates with his new friends and his father after the game on the street above. He loses the ball and goes after it, only to come upon Helen playing the song. The lights suffer a temporary blackout, and when they turn back on, Helen sees Will extending a friendly hand to her. Recognising each other from their adventures in Nightopia, the two reach for each other as it begins to snow, to which they can only laugh. The final scene is of either child sleeping in their room at home as the camera pulls back towards Bellbridge's clock tower, where Nights is seen to still be alive, and peacefully watching over the city from atop it.
A game with the working title Air Nights was in development to use a tilt sensor in the Saturn analogue pad, and development later moved to the Dreamcast for a time. In 2000, the game's original producer and main programmer of Nights, Yuji Naka, expressed opposition to making another game in the series, stating, "I know a lot of people love it and want us to make a sequel, but for us it's a really important game. Like the way Spielberg likes E.T. so much he won't remake it, I don't want to make another Nights". However, by 2003, his stance had softened somewhat, with him stating that he " see[s] Nights as a license. When dealing with such a license from the past it is quite a lot of work, but I would like to use Nights to reinforce Sega's identity, yes."
Discussion on a new game in the series had increased in frequency by 2006. In March 2006, Yuji Naka left Sonic Team to form his own independent studio, Prope, where he was rumoured to resume work on the game's sequel for the Nintendo Wii; although this was later debunked when the studio announced that their focus would be on creating new intellectual properties rather than revisiting any of Sega's past franchises. Rumours regarding a Wii version continued to appear during 2006. The rights to Nights still remained with Sega, who, by 2007, showed interest in returning to the series without Naka. In March 2007, Sega.com ran a poll titled "Which Sega game/character would you like to see return?" featuring Nights as one of the options.
Despite being announced in April 2007, Sega had planned working on a second Nights game as early as November 2005, directly after Shadow the Hedgehog was shipped. In May 2006 the actual development started. The game was the fourth and last game developed by Sega Studio USA, with Takashi Iizuka, the head of the United States branch and one of the designers of the original, as producer, director, and lead game designer. Despite the game having some of the core members from the original game, the entire team from Shadow the Hedgehog worked on this game. While the game was developed in San Francisco, the music and CGI movie production were made in Japan. The game was the team's last before being absorbed back in to Sonic Team Japan.
|Nights: Journey Of Dreams: Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by Tomoko Sasaki, Naofumi Hataya, Tomoya Ohtani, Tatsuyuki Maeda|
26 January 2008(Japan)
|Genre||Video game soundtrack|
Tomoko Sasaki reprised her role of lead composer from the original Nights into Dreams…, who was rejoined by Naofumi Hataya and Fumie Kumatani. Additionally, series newcomers Tomoya Ohtani, Teruhiko Nakagawa, and Tatsuyuki Maeda each contributed a few musical pieces. The game's sound effects were created primarily by Jun Senoue, better known for his musical compositions in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. According to producer Takashi Iizuka, the team understood that they could not compose the same style of music featured in the original game, due to Journey of Dreams being "completely revamped" technically. Sasaki elaborated that the original Saturn version used the console's internal sound sequencer, which allowed more control over the game's music, whereas the Wii version only played the recorded music directly. Despite the limitations, both Sasaki and Hataya were able to produce a better quality soundtrack by using a wider range of instruments than what was used in the previous game. In addition, Sasaki asked an employee from Delfi Sound Inc. to record an orchestrated-themed music for the game. Since the team were aware that the game's characters would have more dialogue compared to the original game, they requested that the orchestra perform a dramatic arrangement in order to put more emphasis on the game's storyline.
To make the development process as smooth as possible, Hataya tried to work in the same environment as Sasaki so that they could exchange data more efficiently. The main tools and software used during development were Digital Performer and Pro Tools, which—according to Hataya—were the standard tools used in music production. In order to stress that the atmosphere of Journey of Dreams was centred around surrealism and dreams themselves, Sasaki discarded tying the game's music down to a single genre and took the approach of not having a clear musical policy. Sasaki also ensured that each theme included the exhilaration of "flying in the air", as it was a core element of gameplay. Hataya echoed that the music of the game was produced by focusing on being able to empathise with the feeling of flying, as well as to exemplify the game's atmosphere and characters. Since the team was aware that Journey of Dreams had a greater sense of adventure as opposed to the original, the team knew that they incorporate a large amount of music variety into it so that players could enjoy a wider range of emotions. In addition to composing the music itself, Hataya also took the responsibility of re-arranging Sasaki's music in different ways so that the right theme matched the in-game situation. According to Hataya, both he and Sasaki produced around 70 percent of the game's music, whereas the rest was produced by Sega's sound team.
Nights: Journey Of Dreams: Original Soundtrack was released on 26 January 2008 exclusively in Japan an contains three separate CDs with all of the music featured on the Wii version. An unofficial 2 CD tribute album, NiGHTS: Lucid Dreaming, was released by Overclocked Remix in 2011. There are 25 tracks in total, with arrangements of the game's original soundtrack in a variety of styles. In January 2017, over 50 songs from the game and its predecessor, Nights into Dreams..., became available to download on Spotify.
Most praised the game's colourful visuals and special effects. Chris Scullion from the Official Nintendo Magazine thought the game aesthetically had all of the speed and charm of the original, and also enjoyed its "lush" atmosphere and landscapes. Kevin VanOrd of GameSpot similarly appreciated the game's artistic design, visual "dreaminess" and elegance, and Gerald Villoria of GameSpy enjoyed the game's colourful and vibrant levels. Nintendo Life's Anthony Dickens praised the general visual style of the game; noting that its boss battles particularly "ooze" with bright and exotic colours. Despite the general praise of the game's colourful palette, some critics viewed the aesthetics unfavourably. GameZone's Louis Bedigan felt that Nights: Journey of Dreams lacked the "eye-popping effects" of other contemporaries such as Super Mario Galaxy and Twilight Princess, and Dickens opined that the game's custcenes were more akin to PlayStation 2 games. Tom Bramwell from Eurogamer felt that despite the attempts made to distract the player from the game's simple premise, the environments were "still a bit 1996". Paul Govan of GamesTM found that the game engine struggled to match the cutscene's visual fluidity with its actual gameplay, and expressed disappointment that Wii owners would be unfazed by its graphical prowess, unlike Sega Saturn owners were at the time of the original Nights into Dreams... release. Dickens thought the game was graphically rushed by Sega, and speculated that it was "cobbled together quickly" by artists who had focused too much on designing the game's introduction sequence. Adam Rosenberg from UGO Networks found the graphics to be a disappointment, saying that its environments were "drab" considering it was based on the dreams of twelve year old children, and also noticed frame rate issues.
Some reviewers denounced various aspects of gameplay, in particular the lack of checkpoints. Scullion noted how the game retained its "old school" feeling despite being aimed at a new audience, and disliked its "die, retry" style of gameplay which he considered old-fashioned. Mark Bozon from IGN similarly criticised the game's tendencies to make the player restart an entire level upon death, calling it "a momentum killer", and Rosenberg labelled the automatic restarts as the game's "worst offender". Most reviewers praised the eccentricity and fun-factor of the boss battles; VanOrd believed the boss fights were enjoyable and memorable, and Jeuxvideo.com's reviewer liked the bosses' appearances and originality, but found defeating them more than once in each world too repetitive. In contrast, Bramwell thought that the game's boss characters channelled a mix between Tim Burton and CBeebies, and Bozon felt that boss battles did not blend well with the main story due to them being in self-contained arenas.
Reviewers criticised the game's control scheme, with most reviewers asserting that the use of the Wii remote was awkward and difficult to harness. Bozon condemned the lack of refined flight control and noted that it was easier to use either the Classic Controller or the GameCube controller despite there not being any motion, infrared, or tilt features. Simarily, Scullion declared that out of the three control schemes, the Wii remote was the least accurate option. VanOrd echoed the poorly implemented use of the Wii remote, and Rosenberg thought its controls were overly responsive and unpolished—both reviewers recommended using the Classic Controller's analogue stick as an alternative. Dickens recognised that the original Nights into Dreams... was one of the first games benefit from an analogue stick, and was therefore surprised at how Nights: Journey of Dreams had a "control scheme crisis" bolstered by the fact that it offered multiple control schemes which might add confusion for new players. Govan suggested that the reason why the game featured alternative control schemes was due to the fact that Sonic Team wanted to emulate the original Saturn controls. In contrast, the reviewer from Jeuxvideo.com found little fault with any of the game's control schemes, and Bedigan labelled them as "excellent". Both reviewers, however, agreed that the Wii remote's motion controls did not work well with the game.
In 2010, Iizuka commented that he would be interested in making a third Nights into Dreams... game, should the management of Sega decide to commission one.
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