|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 18, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
NiGHTS, a Sega classic once released for the Sega Saturn, finally made its comeback to the video game world. Even though it's been over a decade since NiGHTS Into Dreams came out, loyal fans will be happy and most likely pleased with this long-awaited sequel that just made its way to the Wii. Also, since the game seems to be intended for a younger crowd, a whole new generation will have to re-discover the charm of the franchise, which shouldn't be a problem thanks to the effort and dedication put into NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.
The story involves two twelve-year-old kids named Will and Helen. They each have their own separate lives and their own dreams and fears. Helen is a cute British girl living in the outskirts of London, and Will is a lively American kid. Helen has been brought up playing violin with her mom; she's been going out with her friends a little more than usual lately, which manifests in her dreams as fears of letting her mom down and disappointing her. Will, on the other hand, is a devoted soccer player who makes his dad very proud. Unfortunately, the dad has to leave home and work elsewhere, which makes Will unhappy and translates into nightmares. When nighttime comes along, they both enter the World of Dreams and meet NiGHTS. NiGHTS is a startling character full of life, ready to go out and explore the Nightopia universe, while helping the kids find their "ideyas" of courage, intelligence, purity, growth, and hope; these will help them to overcome their fears and grow stronger. However, it's not all fun and games; Wizeman, the creator of the world of nightmares, seeks to rule the Night Dimension. He'll do what he can to get rid of Nightopia, with the help of other Nightmaren creatures. Reala, NiGHTS' alter-ego, is the most loyal of them all, and will play a good part in destroying Nightopia and trying to lead the kids into the dark world of nightmares.
As a platforming adventure, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will have players traveling and exploring these new dimensions while overcoming obstacles, solving some simple puzzles, and fighting against some of the coolest bosses around, from a balloon-filled fish to a sneaky chameleon, a terrifying jester or a dark witch that throws evil cats at you. It's your choice whether to enter Will or Helen's dreams. Either way, the kid will merge with NiGHTS and travel around in that form, which gives them special abilities they could have never dreamed of. Even though the beginning of each kid's dream may lead you to think the opposite, each of the kids will live their own fantasy, making the story twice as unique and spectacular. NiGHTS can fly around, glide, and dive its way through Nightopia, while leaving a glittery trail of stars wherever it goes. Players can trap enemies or obtain objects by performing "paraloops" around them, which is sort of fun, as long as you're using the right controller. Going through the puffy, orange rings will increase the dash-power meter, which allows NiGHTS to perform the drill-dash, a power boost that makes it fly faster and even bump into enemies in order to catch them or bring them down. You'll also find the "Persona" masks, which turn NiGHTS into a dragon, a rocket or a dolphin. When morphed into these forms, the player will be granted special powers like strength, traveling at supersonic speeds, and exploring the underwater world.
Thankfully, the game allows you to choose between four controller types: you can move the Wii-mote around and hold A to fly, which involves doing the proper motions to create paraloops, float upwards, downwards, or to the sides. If you decide to go for the Wii-mote and Nunchuk combination, the thumbstick will have you steer NiGHTS around in a classic fashion; motion-controls are voided when you use this setup. The classic or the GameCube controllers are the other two options. Whichever way you go, you'll get used to it and you'll mostly be pleased with it. Most people will tend to enjoy the experience more by using one of the three analog stick options, especially when it comes to making those tricky paraloops. However, the Wii-mote controls feel more "floaty" and realistic, and if you get good enough at it you might appreciate the freedom it provides; of course, you'll also be more likely to find flaws in this control method, so you decide how far your patience goes. The beautiful thing is you can switch controls any time during gameplay.
The astounding presentation got me into this game more than everything else. When the game started, I was positively surprised by some of the most amazing visuals we've seen on the Wii. It seemed as if the Wii had turned, all of a sudden, into a 360 or a PS3. NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will immerse you right away with its colorful and vibrant landscapes one could only dream were real. Not only are some of the levels unique and greatly detailed, but New York and London are soaked in a dream-world atmosphere we haven't seen since the times of Disney's Peter Pan. Unfortunately, the amazing visuals don't continue throughout; multiple times we'll be delighted with marvelous cutscenes and scenarios, but other times we'll notice a visual downgrade that leaves us hoping for more (especially during the actual gameplay). It's almost like Cinderella, where everything is smooth and perfect but when the clock hits twelve everything shrinks down to nothing. Of course, in this case it doesn't exactly become "nothing," but the smooth and crisp visuals of the initial presentation and many cutscenes will sometimes turn into the jaggy last-gen graphics we've seen on the Wii before. But enough with Disney metaphors; you get what I'm saying!