You And I, We Can Fly... Again
It’s been eleven years since we first saw NiGHTS, the flamboyantly dressed flying jester that many thought would join Sonic the Hedgehog as one of Sega’s most recognized mascots. That first game, NiGHTS: Into Dreams, debuted on the Sega Saturn console in 1996 to commercial and critical success, and fans have been clamoring for a return ever since.
They finally have their wish, as NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams was recently released for the Nintendo Wii. With an innovative system like the Wii, and the NiGHTS concept of flying around dream-like landscapes, you might expect something extremely new… But it’s not. Journey of Dreams feels exactly like the Saturn original. Take that as you will, but as a fan of the original, I say that it’s a very good thing. As soon as you boot up the game, the first two menu songs are pretty much the exact same menu songs from the original NiGHTS. It's a great, nostalgic feeling.
Gameplay feels almost as if they took the exact same Saturn engine, made it prettier, and gave it to us on the Wii. That actually works great, provided you just want NiGHTS. Being just like the original game means that the "on foot" stuff of the kids is still pretty dumb, but its involvement is extremely limited, and it does what it needs to do.
Play with an analog stick of some sort, though (either your old GameCube controller, Classic Controller, or Wii Nunchuck. I prefer the Classic Controller, myself). The Wii Remote only option works, but it's not nearly as precise as the stick, which is a shame, because it feels like it could almost be a better, more comfortable control option... But it's definitely not.
Many people lamented when they heard that there would be voice acting in the game (something absent in the lower-tech days of the original), but said acting is surprisingly adequate. Especially considering this is Sonic Team... It’s no Oscar winning performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it certainly doesn't make your ears bleed either. NiGHTS is the most iffy, as it's sort of a girl/boy British voice that's pretty weird when you first hear it (especially since think it sounds more girlish, when I tend to view NiGHTS as a dude), but I got used to it very quickly.
All in all, I'd easily recommend the game to NiGHTS fans, but for others the choice is more iffy. NiGHTS is a unique, arcade-like experience that many will either love or hate. It doesn’t do much new, has little in the way of an engaging story, doesn’t have jaw dropping visuals and is aimed at a slightly younger audience. However, it’s also a genuinely fun experience with a certain level of charm to it, where high scores matter once again and you don’t have to think about much more than flying in circles. Look into it if you need something new to play on your Wii.