NiGHTS into Dreams on Sega Saturn was what stopped Sonic Team from developing a proper Sonic the Hedgehog game for Sega’s black beauty, but I couldn’t be happier we got the purple jester instead of the blue blur. It was a huge risk that, sales-wise, did Sega much more harm than good, but it resulted in the creation of what I believe to be the greatest video game of all time.
A recent games article stated that NiGHTS plays like a further simplification of Sonic the Hedgehog, with its reliance on speed, collecting and a recurring challenge to beat rather than it being a necessarily difficult game. In Sonic you have times to beat: in NiGHTS, the score is all-important. Even after ten years of beating my own scores, I’m still amazed to read some of the scores on Score Attack.net, some of which are ten times better than my top efforts! That’s the beauty of NiGHTS – whereas most ten year old games rely on players revisiting the familiar to make them worth playing, NiGHTS offers a continual challenge and the promise of greater reward with each play.
It’s interesting to see how complicated Sonic’s move set has become in recent years compared to how simplistically he started, but NiGHTS is even more straightforward – you can fly, dash and Paraloop, but they’re the only important moves. Every level, boss and top score can be conquered by skilfully combining these controls, and for a game so simple to challenge after twelve years proves depths I don’t think even Sonic Team could have predicted.
I’ve written about NiGHTS into Dreams in such length over the past three or four years of this blog that you must be wondering if there’s anything else I can say you won’t have heard before. If you haven’t read or listened to any of my previous posts on NiGHTS, they’re listed here:
This time last year I was worried whether NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams would spoil my memories of the original one if it turned out to be rubbish. Well, even though it wasn’t rubbish it hasn’t changed my opinion of the original at all; if anything, it’s made me realise what an amazing achievement it was. It clearly wasn’t an easy game to get right, with so many daring ideas that they all had to work for the game to succeed. Artificial Life, remixing music and a reliance on score over completion were all daring choices that extended the game’s lifespan far beyond the few hours needed to defeat Wizeman.
A thought just occurred to me – what would I have missed out on if I’d just defeated Wizeman and decided not to play the game any more? How many people thought that was the game’s end and traded it in? That thought actually gave me quite a chill.
The most beautiful, innovative, unbelievable game I have ever played, NiGHTS into Dreams is the greatest game Sega ever created, and in my eyes the best game ever.