Review by SegaSaturn2kX
A dream game
NiGHTS for the Sega Saturn is the game that went up against Mario 64 during the 1996 holidays. If I remembered correctly, this game even outsold Mario 64, for a time, in Japan! Still this game has always been unfairly compared to 3d platformers since it really is not a 3d platformer. The game is better described as a racing score attack game. The majority of the game is played on rails in a 2.5d presentation. A lesser portion of the game is completely in 3-d, but there is almost no gameplay in this portion. Unfortunately Sonic Team neglected to add any real function to it other than walking around as the Eliot or Claris until the gamer finds his/her base.
Graphics -- 9/10
NiGHTS is a beautiful game. Very few games, if any, come close to matching its artistic beauty. Sonic Team did a tremendous job in creating a dream like environment. No doubt popup and flickering are constantly present and even more noticeable when the gamer walks around the level as Eliot or Claris. Some of the walking gameplay includes interactive backgrounds. Probably to make up for the horrendous clipping issues (which to NiGHTS defense is not really noticeable while flying around) NiGHTS includes beautiful graphical extras such as light sourcing and some transparencies -- or at least tricks that look like transparencies. The 2.5d on rails gameplay of NiGHTS is completely polygonal. There are no blatant sprites masquerading as polygons in this game. NiGHTS himself is beautifully animated and flies and performs tricks fluidly. In spite of all the eye candy this game suffers from no slowdown! Thank goodness since speed is VERY important in attaining high scores.
Sound/Music -- 9/10
The music is awesome. Sonic Team is great at arranging catchy tunes! Even more impressive is that the music is interactive. Musical tempo and variations are affected by the A-life system, which will be described in further detail later. The sound effects are even better as the gamer can hear sounds from different directions. The graphics may be lacking but the music/sound is fantastic. Even more revolutionary is the . . . .
Gameplay -- 11/10
This is the only game that deserves more than a 10. As mentioned earlier, NiGHTS is a platform, racing, score attack, dream adventure game. And unlike other innovative games that fail in combining genres, Dark Savior for example, NiGHTS does it seamlessly. Some detractors have decried CNiGHTS as being too short, but the replay is endless. NiGHTS demands the gamer to return to it repeatedly to achieve new high scores. The point of NiGHTS is to collect 20 orbs and then transport them to an Ideya, which then allows the gamer to return to the starting point. Being a demo, NiGHTS only has 2 levels, which both have 4 sections in it. Think of it like in Super Mario Brothers which had levels 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, and so forth. Although collecting those blue orbs allow the gamer to proceed in the game, that aspect of the gameplay is not where the magic lies. The magic lies in the scoring ability. Going through the rings, collecting the orbs & bonus items, and performing tricks earns points for the gamer. Speed is very important not because the gamer needs to complete the level quickly, but because of linking. To collect massive points, the gamer has to generate links by going through rings and collecting those items. Everytime one of the aformentioned tasks is performed, a number appears and it increases as the gamer performs more and more. Make sense? I hope so! Meanwhile there is an A-Life system that is a precursor to a comparable system in Sonic Adventure. Throughout the stages, there are these angel looking things that sleep, live, work, and play. They mate and depending on how NiGHTS treat them they become happy or sad. Spiraling towards an enemy causes them to turn into bouncing balls. If a bouncing ball hits one of those angel looking things, then it creates a mutation. Unfortunately I have never successfully done so.
NiGHTS can be played over and over again. A true NiGHTS gamer, like myself, is not content with just earning As in all the stages. He wants to continue to best his own scores and other gamers' scores. Gameplay is unlimted whereas the gamer can only beat Bowser so many times. Loadtimes only occur before the level starts and I believe this game is region free. Sega had a winner in NiGHTs and it receives my almost full recommendation.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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