Wednesday June 15, 2005 3:45 pm
Playfeed Time Warp: NiGHTS
Playfeed is known for giving you the latest and greatest of gaming news. Today we launch Time Warp, looking back in time to bring you a game that you may have missed, or love to reminisce about. This week our game is NiGHTS; a unique game that has its fans screaming “sequel.” So come on in and venture with us and Sonic Team back to 1996, where the Sega Saturn (a long forgotten system) preceded an incoming onslaught of N64 and Playstation.
Claimed to be the “Sonic” for the Saturn, NiGHTS, became a phenomenon only in the heart of its fans. The combination of innovation and gameplay really set the bar high for Sonic Team’s future releases. Here’s an overview of why playing this game was an experience all to itself.
When you first opened that unusually large box, you didn’t know what to expect…
Inside the contents was not only the usual Saturn CD case, but also a controller. What the heck was that huge thing doing in there? What the heck is this thumbpad they call “analog”? Nights brought home the one of the firsts major analog controllers to home consoles. It also included the usual D-Pad and six buttons and two triggers: a nearly perfect controller. So you take your old controller out and throw it in a corner because you plugged in the big boy.
You know you’ve got something special as soon as you start to play this game. It revolves around a plot that only the Japanese could conjure: Two children plagued with nightmares travel through their dreams in order to solve their real life nightmares.
During gameplay, you start as either of the children in a full 3D environment. You may go on to touch NiGHTS, the lovable jester, whom is located in the “Ideya Palace”. Now equipped with some flying power, you are able to fly in a semi 3D environment. You fly along an invisible “track” - if you will - collect the spheres known as “Ideyas” only to return them to the initial palace within the time limit.
Killing your enemies requires you to loop de loop or “paralooping” around them creating a vacuum behind the jester (this is where the analog pad is so handy, D-Pad would hurt after some time). All throughout an amazing blur of bright colors and wonderful looking environments beyond the scope imagined the Saturn could even handle.
You repeat the process 4 times for the level then fight a boss and get graded every time. This grade gets averaged and that is your final grade for the level. Like most American students, maintaining a decent C average will take you to the promised land and unlock the final level. Even the musical score was breathtaking. They even incorporated it into your gameplay by giving you “happier” music the better you didn’t and melancholy tones for the worse you did.
Bosses are simply stunning in size and creativity.
If this doesn’t seem simple enough, think about this – your only offense is the paraloop and a ramming move! Yet the beauty of how all this is orchestrated can’t be told in words or these small screenshots. There are essentially only 7 levels and its replay value keeps you coming back. Trying to get a higher grade is a trying task and exploring the levels can get quite addictive as well.
I have to take this opportunity to mention that Sonic Team went on to release a NiGHTS CD sampler for Christmas in 1996, which was absolutely incredible. This demo had the first level for both characters however it was tricked out Christmas-style.
NiGHTS himself was dressed in a Santa/Jester outfit. All the Nightopians were all in dwarf-like uniform also. The entire score was filled with carol music and depending on how you did during gameplay you’d get presents. One of them is having Sonic the Hedgehog himself as a playable character. This was by far one of the best demos ever in history. I believe this so much that I don’t even consider it a demo. It’s got new content not found in the original.
So in retrospect, a game created in a genre that we still can’t place, NiGHTS became a game that was disappointing in its popularity. It is a true shame that it was overshadowed by the Mario 64’s of the world, never joining those games in their glory. So go on retro gamers, check out eBay and grab a Sega Saturn along with a copy of NiGHTS. You will not be disappointed.
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