Review by Meia_Lua
"Hmmm... Call me Nostalgic..."
Hmmm... Call me nostalgic, but in my opinion, I just miss the experience of playing through a very, very good game. When we talk about gaming experience, there's no true need to delve into Graphics, Sound, or what not; but for the sake of clarity, we'll do it anyway.
The development team under Sega in the 90s was responsible for a wave of change, of which most were ahead of their time. The first 360 degree analog pad (coupled with NiGHTS), A-life (started with NiGHTS), the first gaming console to use CD's and FMV's, the first Polygonal 3D fighting/racing games, Net play (Sega Net Link), and the list could go on in hardware development.
We have them to thank for games like the Sonic the Hedgehog & Phantasy Star series, the Virtua Fighter & Shenmue series, Panzer Dragoon series, Jet Grind Radio, Skies of Arcadia, and there are too many in number to mention here. NiGHTS was one of those great achievements by Sega that enjoyed a quick rise before the fall of the Saturn. Even between all the great games by that time, NiGHTS stood out. Sega's focus while making games was always innovation, originality. NiGHTS was no exception to those groundbreaking, revolutionary rules.
Today, an age where video games all fall in the same line; we see very little games that offer anything new in the ways of gameplay, and so many bad rehashes aimed at nothing but sales. Video games have been widely commercialized, due to Sony's entry in the market during the 90s, in my opinion. By launch, Sony had a line up of over 500 crappy, unoriginal games, of which probably 20 or so were worth playing (like Chrono Cross, Xenogears, Thrasher, Resident Evil, Final Fantasy, which I didn't like, but was very succesful, sale-wise). The 500 or so games beat the line up either Sega or Nintendo had at the time, and attracted a wide audience. Every Sony console since then has a wide selection of games with little variety. Since then, gaming has gone downhill. It's all about games that are cool, look good, even if they have little to offer in originality, or even FUN!
Our GameStop stores aren't filled with gamers anymore, only parents shopping for their dumb-ass kids, with their cell-phones in hand. People who know nothing about videogames, and never cared enough to look into them in the past, anyway. Why didn't they play when developers were using sprites instead of polygonal rendering? These people do not want video games; they want interactive movies.
When NiGHTS hit the shelves in 1996, we all read good reviews of the game, and some bad ones, as well. The game was not appreciated at the time. Now that Journey of Dreams is out, those same hypocrites are whining about it not being true to the original, not living up to the original, when they didn't appreciate the original themselves to begin with. The actually want us to believe that they stood up for NiGHTS when the Saturn was falling. Yeah, sure.
I'm here to tell you not to listen to those ignorant rants, and experience the game for yourselves. Reviews, in any case, should help you decide whether to buy the game. The game is definitely way past rental worth, but if you must, rent it out. NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is very true to the original, Into Dreams. Similar, but not the same, even though they are definitely equals; it would make no sense to release the same game again and call it a sequel.
The story itself is on the same boa of Into Dreams: two children, Will and Helen, share a dream in which the meet NiGHTS, who helps them overcome their fears and nightmares embodied. NiGHTS must overcome several trials of his own, as well. I won't divulge much else, for your own sake. =)
The Graphics in the game are great! Colorful, vibrant and lively, the intricate world design of NiGHTS Journey of Dreams is meant to be experienced as NiGHTS, although you can also tackle the ground as one of the two children. Although the ground is less lively to explore than in the original NiGHTS, it can be quite rewarding. Yuji Naka's absence is definitely felt here =(. Elliot's Stick Canyon level ring a bell to anyone? You'll also notice that there is no double, or triple jump, as in the original. This facilitated travel on a large scale. Of course, traveling on foot in the original NiGHTS was necessary; if one of the kids got separated from NiGHTS and fell to the ground, they could still deliver the Ideya to the capture and complete the mission. In Journey of Dreams, if time runs out for NiGHTS, it's Dream Over. =) Challenging, no?
The sound is just amazing! The array of familiar sounds includes dashing, looping, running through rings, etc, and proves just how advanced NiGHTS was for it's time to be used today. The soundtrack is great, the music is full, creative, and never boring or repetitive, much like in the original game. Although the songs will not change in the level, depending on A-life, and the Nightopian's mood, as it did in the original, the music will change in My Dream depending on it's state.
The voice acting can be a kick in the balls, sometimes, and I think te game could have done well even without it. It sounds to me like the staff of Traveller's Tales had a hand in this. (They were the Brittish group that worked on Sonic R and Sonic 3D Blast, while Yuji Naka worked on the original NiGHTS and STI worked on Sonic X-treme. I don't even know if they are in business anymore.) Helen sounds dull, at times, but atleast NiGHTS' voice is well acted, as it remains androgynous. As we should all no by now, NiGHTS has no gender, and can take any shape or form it wishes to. Hell, NiGHTS doesn't even have a neck, or wrists.
The gameplay is awesome and expansive. Sometimes, it feels as though the original levels have been broken down into sub levels. The link races are fun, and so are the levels pertinent to specific characters (I loved the Sky Concerto, hehe) The use of Personas, different masks one acquires during the game is fun, and very useful at times, but it is not crucial. It can, however, make it much easier to get good grades (scores are rated A, B, C, D , E, F, depending on their performance. Bonuses can be up to double, depending on how quickly you beat the boss).
The Boss levels are fun, although they will be irritating at first. The design is intricate and different; difficult, to say the least. They have enough personality to go 'round, although neither of them live up to Jackle's personality, from the first NiGHTS (He would throw playing cards at you and laugh his ass off. It was always a pleasure putting his back in his box =D). The game is easy to control and pick up, especially with the GameCube controller/ Wiimote + Nunchaku variant, although this may vary depending on the user. There is no sure way to tell at first, how you will feel most comfortable playing. It's good to know there are these many options available, however. Wii classic controller is also available for use.
I don't want to reveal too much, but Bellebridge is an amazing course. I fell in love with it immediately. You'l love it was well, if you are a NiGHTS fan. Keep it in mind. =) The game is worth playing even for this alone. We should learn to appreciate the diversity of this type of game, instead of whining about it. There are few games like this left, and after Shenmue III's release, I'm not sure I have anything else to look forward to in the gaming industry. Call me Nostalgic.
Graphics 9 / 10
Sound 8.5 / 10
Musical Score 10 / 10
Gameplay 10 / 10
Innovation 10 /10
Replay Value 10 / 10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/03/08
Game Release: NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (US, 12/18/07)
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