Nights into Dreams...

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"Reala" redirects here. For the photographic film, see Fujifilm Superia.
Nights into Dreams...
European cover art
Developer(s) Sonic Team
Sega Studio China (PS2)
Publisher(s) Sega
Director(s) Naoto Ohshima
Producer(s) Yuji Naka
Designer(s) Takashi Iizuka
Programmer(s) Yuji Naka
Artist(s) Kazuyuki Hoshino
Naoto Oshima
Composer(s) Naofumi Hataya
Tomoko Sasaki
Fumie Kumatani
Platform(s) Sega Saturn, PlayStation 2, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade
Release date(s) Sega Saturn
  • JP 5 July 1996
  • NA 20 August 1996
  • EU 7 October 1996
PlayStation 2
  • JP 21 February 2008
Microsoft Windows
  • WW 2 October 2012 (Online)
  • WW 17 December 2012 (Steam)
PlayStation Network
NA 201210022 October 2012
EU 201210033 October 2012
JP 201210044 October 2012
Xbox Live Arcade
  • WW 5 October 2012
Genre(s) Action
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Nights into Dreams... (ナイツ Naitsu?, stylised 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,[1] with a Microsoft Windows version later released via Steam on 17 December 2012.[2]

The story follows two teenagers 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 received positive reviews upon release. Critics praised the graphics and unique gameplay, however some were divided over the difficulty. 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; 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 teenagers from the city of Twin Seeds, go through failures. Elliot likes to play basketball, but is challenged by competitors from another class and loses. Claris wants to sing in a performance 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 that 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 duels 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;[3]
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 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 is Wizeman's most trusted servant. Unlike Nights, Reala is cruel, brutal, clever, and loyal to Wizeman. Reala was responsible for Nights' imprisonment in the Ideya Palace.[4] 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.[5]


Nights flying through Elliot's first level, Splash Garden, in the Saturn version. Heads-up display features clockwise from bottom centre: number of Links, Drill Attack Gauge, Ideya Capture Strength Level, number of Color Chips currently held, time remaining, and score.

NiGHTS into Dreams... is split into seven levels, referred to as "Dreams".[6] The levels are distributed equally between the two teenage 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 character's path. Previously completed stages may be revisited to improve the player's high scores; a "C" grade in all the selected character's levels must be achieved to unlock the relevant Twin Seeds stage for that character.[7]

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 character 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 character 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 transforms 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.

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,[8] a precursor to the Chao featured in Sonic Team's later Sonic Adventure titles.[citation needed] 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.[9] 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.


I headed back to Japan so that I could work with Mr. Oshima and while I was waiting for the plane to take off, I thought, 'Let's make a game where we can fly!' So I guess that's where it all started.

Yuji Naka in an interview with Sega Saturn Magazine[10]

The concept for the game originated during the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 2, however actual development did not begin until after the release of Sonic & Knuckles in late 1994.[11] According to Yuji Naka, Nights into Dreams... was inspired by various titles and characters from Japanese anime, including Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère.[12] 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."[10][13][14]

In a retrospective interview, Naka stated that Christmas Nights was materialised to increase the sales of the Saturn consoles.[8]

3D controller[edit]

The optional 3D controller that was packaged with Nights into Dreams.... (US/EU version shown; the Japanese pad was white.)

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.



Sega released a remake of Nights into Dreams... for the PlayStation 2 exclusively 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.[15][16][17] The Christmas Nights levels are included as an unlockable bonus, playable after the main game is completed.[18] 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.

HD version[edit]

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.[1][19] A Microsoft Windows version was released via Steam on 17 December 2012.[2] 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.[2] 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.[19][20]

Related games[edit]

Christmas Nights[edit]

A still image of gameplay from Christmas Nights, showing the altered features of the game.

Christmas Nights or Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams... (Jap. クリスマスナイツ 冬季限定版 Kurisumasu Naytsu) is a Christmas-themed two-level game of Nights into Dreams... that was released in December 1996. It was introduced in Japan as part of a Christmas Sega Saturn bundle, whereas elsewhere it was given away with the purchase of certain Saturn games such as Daytona USA Championship Circuit Edition, and was also bundled in with issues of Sega Saturn Magazine, Game Players and Next Generation Magazine.[citation needed] The game was also available for rent at Blockbuster Video locations in the United States. In the United Kingdom, Christmas Nights was not included with the 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.[21]


A game with the working title "Air Nights" was intended to use a tilt sensor in the Saturn analogue pad, and development later planned for the Dreamcast.[22] In an August 1999 interview with the American Official Dreamcast Magazine, Yuji Naka confirmed that a sequel was in development,[23] however the project was eventually abandoned a year later.[24] Aside from a handheld electronic game released by Tiger Electronics[25] and small minigames featured in several Sega titles, no full Nights sequel was released for a Sega console. Yuji Naka expressed his enthusiasm to develop a sequel,[23] and also noted that he was interested in using Nights into Dreams... as a license "to reinforce Sega's identity".[26]

On 1 April 2007, a sequel called Nights: Journey of Dreams was officially announced for the Wii.[27][28] The official announcement followed items on the game published in several magazines and websites.[29] The sequel is a Wii exclusive, making use of Wii Remote,[27] as was initially planned for Air Nights.[22] The gameplay involves the use of various masks,[30] and features a multiplayer mode for two players[27] in addition to Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection online functions.[31] The game was developed by Sega Studio USA,[27] with Takashi Iizuka, one of the designers of the original game, serving as producer.[32] It was released in Japan and the United States in December 2007, and in Europe and Australia on 18 January 2008.[33]

In 2010, Takashi Iizuka commented that he would be interested in making a third Nights into Dreams... game, should the management of Sega decide to commission one.[34]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 89% (9 reviews)[35]
Review scores
Publication Score
CVG 5/5 stars[9]
Edge 8 out of 10[36]
Eurogamer 9 out of 10 (XBLA)[37]
Game Informer 8.5 out of 10[35]
GamePro 5/5 stars[35]
Game Revolution A[38]
IGN 8.7 out of 10[39]
Mean Machines Sega 96%[40]
Player One 94%[41]
Sega Power 92%[42]
Sega Saturn Magazine 96%[6]
Entertainment Weekly A[43]
Coming Soon Magazine 5/5 stars[44]

The game received positive reviews upon release. It holds an average score of 89% at GameRankings, based on an aggregate of nine reviews.[35]

The graphics and flight mechanics were the most praised aspects of the game. Tom Guise of Computer and Video Games heralded the game's flight system and freedom as "captivating", whilst stating that Nights into Dreams... is the "perfect evolution" of a Sonic game.[9] A reviewer of Edge stated that the game was overall well designed and the graphics "unrivalled", however they noted that the game had a low number of levels and extras in comparison to Super Mario 64.[36] Martin Robinson of Eurogamer opinionated that the flight mechanics were a "giddy thrill", in contrast to Sonic games.[37] A reviewer of Game Revolution praised the graphics and speed of the game as "breathtaking" and "awe-inspiring", whilst summarising that it offered the "best qualities of the generation machines".[38] Levi Buchanan of IGN added scepticism over the Saturn's ability to portray graphics, stating that the console "was not built to handle Nights" due to the game occasionally clipping and warping, however he admitted that the graphics were "pretty darn good".[39] A reviewer of Mean Machines Sega praised the game's graphically vibrant colours and detailed textures, whilst comparing its smooth animation as "fluid as water". However, the reviewer noted occasional build up and glitching during the game.[40] Sam Hickman of the Sega Saturn Magazine praised the visuals and colour scheme as "rich" in both texture and detail, whilst suggesting that Nights into Dreams... is one of the most "captivating" games on the Saturn.[6] Frederick Claude of Coming Soon similarly praised the graphics as "breathtaking" and "splendid".[44]

Reviewers also praised the game's soundtrack and audio effects. Paul Davies of Computer and Video Games cited the game as having "the best music ever", whilst in the same review, Tom Guise attributed the music to creating a "hypnotically magical" atmosphere.[9] A reviewer of Game Revolution stated that the music and sound effects were that of a "dream world", and asserted that they were "fitting" for a game like Nights into Dreams....[38] Buchanan praised the game's soundtrack, stating that each stage's soundtrack is "quite good" and that the sound effects "fit in perfectly with the dream universe".[39] A reviewer of Mean Machines Sega similarly praised the music and sound effects as "awesome" and "impressive".[40] Claude stated that the game's soundtrack was in "perfect harmony" with the graphics, and that both add to "enchanting" atmosphere.[44]

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."[45] 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."[46]

Nights into Dreams was the top-selling game for the Sega Saturn and the 21st highest-selling game in Japan during 1996.[47]


In other media[edit]

Claris and Eliot make a cameo appearance in Sonic Team's Burning Rangers (which utilised the same game engine from Nights into Dreams...[48]), with both Claris and Eliot sending the Rangers emails thanking them for their help, and telling them about their friend, Nights.[49] A Nights into Dreams... handheld electronic game was released by Tiger Electronics,[25] and a port of it was later released for Tiger's unsuccessful R-Zone console.[50] Nights into Dreams...-themed pinball areas feature in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Pinball Party, with soundtrack being featured in the latter game.[51] The PlayStation 2 titles EyeToy: Play and Sega SuperStars both feature minigames based on Nights into Dreams..., in which Nights is controlled using the player's body.[52][53] Nights is also an unlockable character in Sonic Riders and Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity.[54][55]

A minigame version of Nights into Dreams... is playable through utilising the Nintendo GameCube – Game Boy Advance link cable connectivity with Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II[56] and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg.[57] Following a successful fan campaign by a Nights into Dreams... fansite, the character Nights was integrated into Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing as a traffic guard,[58] and Nights and Reala appear as playable characters in Sega Superstars Tennis and Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed,[59] the latter of which also features a Nights into Dreams...-themed racetrack.[59][60] The limited Deadly Six edition of Sonic Lost World features a Nights into Dreams...-inspired stage, named "Nightmare Zone", as downloadable content.[61]


In February 1998, Archie Comics adapted Nights into Dreams... into a three-issue comic book miniseries[62] to test whether or not a Nights comic would sell well in North America.[63] 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, however the series did not 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.[64]


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