Nights into Dreams...
|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?, 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, with a Microsoft Windows version later released via Steam on 17 December 2012.
The story follows two teenagers, Claris and Elliot, who enter a dream world called Nightopia, where they are aided by the exiled protagonist, Nights. The three must stop the evil ruler of Nightopia, Wizeman, who sets out to destroy the dream world, and consequently, the real world. The central game element is flight, in which Nights must travel through Claris and Elliot's dreams in order to gather enough energy to defeat Wizeman and save Nightopia. The game is presented in 3D and imposes time limits in every level, in which the player must accumulate enough points in order to proceed.
Development of the game began after the release of Sonic & Knuckles in 1994, and was influenced by the works and theories of psychotherapists Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. An exclusive analogue controller, known as the Saturn 3D controller, was designed alongside the game, with director Steven Spielberg having the distinction of being the first person to use it. The game received positive reviews upon release; critics praised the graphics, unique gameplay, soundtrack, and vibrant atmosphere. Nights into Dreams... has since been included in several "best game of all time" lists and has been regarded as the "best Sega Saturn game of all time". A direct sequel, Nights: Journey of Dreams, was released for the Wii in 2007.
The game is split into seven levels, referred to as "Dreams". 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.
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. If the player walks around the landscape for too long, they will be pursued by a sentient alarm clock which will wake up the character and end the level if it comes in contact with the player. The majority of the gameplay centres on Nights' flying sequences, which is 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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
The game features an artificial life system known as "A-Life", a precursor to the Chao system featured in Sonic Team's later Sonic Adventure titles. The system involves entities called Nightopians and keeps track of their moods. It is possible to have them mate with other Nightopians, which will result in creating hybrids known as "Superpians". The more the game is played, the more inhabitants appear and will consequently change environmental features and cultures. The A-Life system features an evolving music engine, allowing tempo, pitch, and melody to alter depending on the state of Nightopians within the level. The feature also runs from the Sega Saturn's internal clock, which will also alter features in the A-Life system depending on the time.
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 in order to gather power and 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 named 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 year 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.
- 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 secondary 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.
The game was developed by Sonic Team in the United States, in contrast to their previous titles being developed in Japan. 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. The programming of the game began in April 1995 and total development spanned over a period of six months. The development team consisted of staff who worked on previous Sonic the Hedgehog titles; Yuji Naka acted as lead programmer and producer, whilst Takashi Iizuka undertook the role of leading designer after replacing Hirokazu Yasuharu, who chose to remain in the United States while he worked on Sonic X-treme. According to Naka, the initial development team consisted of seven people at the start of production, and gradually grew to 20 people once "more programmers" started to arrive. The game was developed using Silicon Graphics for graphical designs and Hewlett-Packard emulators for programming.
Sonic creator and project leader Naoto Oshima created the character of Nights based on his impressions of travelling around Europe and western Asia. He eventually came to the conclusion that the main character of the game should resemble an angel and fly like a bird. Naka originally settled on making Nights into Dreams... a slow paced game, however as development progressed the speed gradually increased, in similar vein to Sonic the Hedgehog titles. Due to the Sonic Team offices not accommodating any sound-proof studios, anonymous team members were forced to record vocal sound effects for the game at night. Naka stated that every phrase in the game has a meaning, for example "abayo" is Japanese slang for "goodbye".
In a 2007 interview, Naka stated that Christmas Nights was conceptualised in order to increase the sales of the Saturn consoles, and that the game was inspired by various titles and characters from Japanese anime, including Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère. The development team performed various research into dream sequences and REM sleep; which included the works of the Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Holtz. Iizuka analysed Jung's theories of dream archetypes, and spent a considerable amount of time studying dreams and theories associated with them. Naka stated that the main protagonist, Nights, is reflective of Jung's analytical psychology theory of "shadow", whereas the two central characters, Claris and Elliot were inspired from Jung's Animus and Anima.
Nights into Dreams... was introduced alongside an optional game controller, the Saturn 3D controller, which was included with most copies of the game. The gamepad features an analogue stick and analogue triggers which was designed specifically for the game. During development, director Steven Spielberg visited the Sonic Team studio and became the first person outside the development team to play the game. Naka asked him to play with an experimental version of the Saturn 3D controller, and was jokingly referred to as the "Spielberg controller" throughout development.
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, an illustration gallery and features the ability to play the game in classic Saturn graphics. The game was also featured in a bundle named 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 once the main game has been completed.
A high definition remaster of the PlayStation 2 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 includes the option to play either with enhanced graphics or with the original Saturn version's graphics. The HD version also includes Christmas Nights and the original game's two player versus mode. However, Christmas Nights ' Sonic the Hedgehog level was removed.
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 and Next Generation Magazine. In the United Kingdom, Christmas Nights was not included with the Sega Saturn Magazine until December 1997.
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. Realising that the Christmas Star that usually sits at the top of the Twin Seeds Christmas tree is absent, 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 decorated due to the their 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 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. 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 greenery of the environment being replaced by 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. 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 being able to play the game's soundtrack. 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 minigame Sonic the Hedgehog: Into Dreams, Sonic may only go through the stage of Spring Valley on foot, and must defeat the boss - an inflatable Dr. Robotnik. The music is a 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 planned for the Dreamcast. In an August 1999 interview with the American Official Dreamcast Magazine, Yuji Naka confirmed that a sequel was in development, however the project was eventually abandoned a year later. Aside from a handheld electronic game released by Tiger Electronics 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, and also noted that he was interested in using Nights into Dreams... 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 Wii Remote, 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 Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection online functions. The game was developed by Sega Studio USA, with Takashi Iizuka, one of the designers of the original game, serving 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 interested in making a third Nights into Dreams... game, should the management of Sega decide to commission one.
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. 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. Martin Robinson of Eurogamer opinionated that the flight mechanics were a "giddy thrill", in contrast to Sonic games. 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". 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". 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. 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. Frederick Claude of Coming Soon similarly praised the graphics as "breathtaking" and "splendid".
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. 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.... 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". A reviewer of Mean Machines Sega similarly praised the music and sound effects as "awesome" and "impressive". Claude stated that the game's soundtrack was in "perfect harmony" with the graphics, and that both add to the "enchanting" atmosphere.
Nights into Dreams was the top-selling game for the Sega Saturn and the 21st highest-selling game in Japan during 1996.
Since its release, Nights into Dreams... has appeared on several "best game of all time" lists. In a January 2000 poll by Computer and Video Games, readers placed the game 15th on their "100 Greatest Games" list, directly behind Super Mario 64. IGN ranked the game as the 94th best game of all time in their "Top 100 Games" list in 2007, and in 2008, IGN staff writer Levi Buchanan ranked it fourth in his list of the top 10 Sega Saturn games. Next Generation Magazine ranked the game 25th in its list of the "100 Greatest Games of All-Time" in their September 1996 issue. 1UP ranked the game third in its "Top Ten Cult Classics" list. In 2014, GamesRadar listed Nights into Dreams... as the best Sega Saturn game of all time, stating that the game "tapped into a new kind of platform gameplay for its era".
In other media
Claris and Eliot make a cameo appearance in Sonic Team's Burning Rangers (which utilised the same game engine from Nights into Dreams...), with both Claris and Eliot sending the Rangers emails thanking them for their help, and telling them about their friend, Nights. A Nights into Dreams... handheld electronic game was released by Tiger Electronics, and a port of it was later released for Tiger's unsuccessful R-Zone console. Nights into Dreams...-themed pinball areas feature in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Pinball Party, with soundtrack being featured in the latter game. 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. Nights is also an unlockable character in Sonic Riders and Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity.
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 and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. 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, 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 Sonic Lost World features a Nights into Dreams...-inspired stage, named "Nightmare Zone", as downloadable content.
In February 1998, 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, 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.
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- Official website (Japanese)
- Official website for the PlayStation 2 remake (Japanese)
- Nights into Dreams... on MobyGames
- Nights into Dreams... on Satakore