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NiGHTS: Journey Of Dreams Review

Will it be all right on the NiGHT

Eleven years! That's how long it's been since NiGHTS Into Dreams glided onto Sega's Saturn; a cult classic immediately taken to the hearts of hardcore gamers and reminisced about ever since. But the problem with being a hardcore hit is double-edged. While you guarantee a game's place on those Best Ever (Like, Ever!) lists, you're sometimes at risk of not making an awful lot of money from it by aiming it at too narrow a market. You also burden yourself with the weight of expectation - how do you update an iconic title without cheesing off those who loved it first time around?

Little wonder that it's taken 11 years for Sonic Team to figure out how to approach a sequel then. Yet here it is, and in many ways it stays true to the 1996 game. There is still the Peter Pan-like dreamworld, Nightopia, and the double-stranded gameplay still stands. You play through Journey of Dreams as either Will or Sarah, in tandem with the livewire jester NiGHTS, and the bulk of the action is centred on zipping around gleefully colourful levels, looping around pick-ups to gain more speed and taking out enemies. All very familiar.

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Reala State

Starting out from a central hub, you'll access the various worlds through a series of doorways. Events play out for both Will and Helen in much the same order: Wizeman's (he's the big boss character from the original game) henchman Reala is constantly on NiGHTS' case for one thing or another and invariably you'll begin a level as either character on foot, searching for the jester. Once NiGHTS is free, you can then merge with him/her and begin flying around the level.

Journey of Dreams operates in a kind of 2.5D sphere, where you have 360-degree control over NiGHTs but move along a loose rail through a level. In fact, it plays as more of a racing game than an adventure, as you'll actually loop around a circuit as you attempt a task, with a time limit running down. Levels become high-speed memory tests of pick-up locations and time saving manoeuvres as elastic cables catapult you through your lap. It's as a bright, vibrant speed fest that Journey of Dreams succeeds.

After completing a set of goals, you'll enter into a boss fight which requires all of NiGHTs' abilities - paralooping (where you loop around an object to remove it), drill-dashing (performed by hitting B - pick-ups and links keep your speed reserves stocked) and no small amount of perseverance.


There are problems though. Of the three control schemes (the Classic controller, Nunchuk or Remote) the Remote offers the least accurate solution. By holding down A and aiming a cursor, you direct NiGHTs around the screen - in theory, anyway. But it's too cumbersome to really work. It's hard to get a feel for where the invisible boundaries lie, and inadvertently running into them when time is tight is crushing. You're better off using the Nunchuk's stick. And bizarrely, given Journey of Dreams' courting of a new audience, there's an old-school feel to having to start entire levels over again when falling at the last hurdle, which is really annoying.

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But on the whole, Journey of Dreams works. It's a sequel that adds more extras without really changing the basics of the original. It might lack a little of its predecessor's slickness but it's still worthy of your time.


23 comments so far...
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  1. Neon2712 Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 11:58

    That was a very good, and fair, review. I've been waiting for this game to come out for a while now, because I was a big fan of the original on the Sega Saturn.

    Even thought it got 79% I'll still be getting it, even if NiGHTS does have a stupid voice, because it still has all of those classic elements that made the first game so good.

  2. Turkey Toad Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 15:05

    I never played the first game, so I'm probably not going to get this one. It just strikes me as being one of those games that only appeal to fans of the series. Just like I absolutely loved Lord of the Rings: The Third Age, even though the game itself is nothing special xD

  3. Dead Man Walking Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 15:22

    Nice review, I might pick this up tomorrow... Depends on if Mario and Sonic is finally back in stock XD

    But yeah, the game looks very interesting, despit having not played the original.

  4. Anonymous Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 15:52

    Thats still a decent enough score but I'm bummed it isn't better.

    I thought it was going to be something else.

    Jack + Wiki it is then.

  5. Samus Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 16:19

    Maybe Sega should of taken Naka's word about leaving the NiGHTS the way is was, rather than trying to create a sequel which will never be as good as its prequel and diminish the series reputation.

  6. RobertK Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 19:43

    I wasn't ever sure that I was gonna get this game. I never played the original and I'm not sure if the game is good. The sequel then just doesn't do it for me like Zack and Wiki did. No "wow" factor :?

  7. flaming3 Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 19:59

    It was waaaaay too rushed out.

  8. Adamzzz Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 22:51

    79%? Seriously?

  9. seancuk23 Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 23:04

    I wish Sega would have allowed more time for the game play to be polished, it just seems such a shame!:cry:

    Perhaps I should pick up Zak and Wiki instead? :?

  10. Strange Friday 18th Jan 2008 at 23:27

    A real shame about some of old dreary gameplay the Wii version of NiGHTS has. By modernising some of the old fashioned parts of the gameplay, there would have been potential for this to become a real classic. Still, it got around the 80% mark (if you round the 79 to the nearest ten), which is something. I always say games that get 75% or over start becoming quite decent anyway.

    Might pick this up depending on the decision I've made.

  11. Anonymous Saturday 19th Jan 2008 at 10:23

    The box art of this game caught my eye. This game looks really colourful. And plus who would resist some good 'ol Nights gameplay? This is a must have.

  12. wii_underworld Saturday 19th Jan 2008 at 21:48

    I'm new to NiGHTS, and so far it's off to a pretty good start. It is a good game, but I'm afraid it's gonna be too short. Only 3 hours in and I'm already one quarter-way through (half of Will's dream).
    However, I forgive that because the flying is amazing (with the Nunchuck, I mean)

  13. Trev Sunday 20th Jan 2008 at 01:45

    NiGHTS into Dreams is my all time favourite game. That's counting the Zelda series.
    I bought JoD yesterday and i have to say I'm loving it. Once you get past the frankly rubbish looking cut scenes it's awesome. When you complete the game and go back to beat your previous scores you do not have to sit through them again anyway as you CAN skip them. Plus theres the 60 dream drops to find that are hidden all through the game. I'm only on 25 at the mo so I've a ways to go yet.
    I'm still playing the Saturn original to this day and I've no doubt I'll still be playing this one in another 11 years.
    Well done Sega.

  14. Princess Cirrus Sunday 20th Jan 2008 at 10:31

    My friend came rushing into schrool screeching about her favourite video game series having a sequel. xD And she hasn't shut up about it since, so I figured I'd take a look at your review.

    It looks like a nice, solid game. I only get one to three games a year though, so... I'll see if I like it when she gets it...

  15. Ultima Sunday 20th Jan 2008 at 11:57

    Meh, when it comes cheaper I'll probably buy it, For now I won't

  16. GothixEmo Sunday 20th Jan 2008 at 23:01

    I don't care what reviews or scores this gets, its a sequel to the best game ever!
    Thats enough to make me buy it!
    Which I will!
    I saved up for a while, and now I can buy it!
    Totally looks worth the money!

  17. Jacen Tuesday 22nd Jan 2008 at 22:33

    I loved the first game, and was excited to learn Sega was updating it for a new generation. I just wish they'd taken a little more time to get the controls right. Part of the appeal of the first game was the revolutionary analogue pad that came bundled with it, opening up a whole new level of control. Moaning aside, the old NiGHTS magic is still there. If you didn't try it first time round, I'd recommend giving it a go...

  18. uster dog Monday 28th Jan 2008 at 18:39

    :evil: i had the first on the saturn LOVED IT :!: but that was over ten years ago & i'm now a lot older & wiser,this new nights i cant stand it :!: hate it,hate it,hate it,sega should have taken more time on it :evil:

  19. Zio144 Friday 29th Feb 2008 at 19:53

    WHAT!!!! 79% for NIGHTS is way to low! Who cares about the rubbish wii remote controls, you can use a differt control scheme! 91% for me.

  20. FliByFow Monday 17th Mar 2008 at 17:43

    WHAT!!!! 79% for NIGHTS is way to low! Who cares about the rubbish wii remote controls, you can use a differt control scheme! 91% for me.

    since when was a score of 79% a symbol of a bad game?

  21. merse4england Saturday 26th Apr 2008 at 16:35

    I think 79% is a little harsh, given that you sited the control system as a down popint. Lets not forget that you don't have to use the remote/nunchuck method.

    I'd say that 85-90% would be fairer to all those with a calssic/gamecube controller

  22. Zio144 Tuesday 27th May 2008 at 10:38

    WHAT!!!! 79% for NIGHTS is way to low! Who cares about the rubbish wii remote controls, you can use a differt control scheme! 91% for me.

    since when was a score of 79% a symbol of a bad game?

    79% is a symbol of a good game but nights isn't good its GREAT!

  23. ElfenLied Saturday 1st Nov 2008 at 20:54

    Great game! Even though it took me a few hours to complete one character >.<

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