#309 Nights Into Dreams

Posted: 14th May 2021 by Jeroen in Games
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957th played so far

Genre: Action
Platform: Saturn
Year of Release: 1996
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega

I think I only know Nights into Dreams from ancillary materials, based on the main character of Nights appearing in other games and places. I’ve heard some of it described on a podcast once – although mostly the messy Christmas version – but even that hasn’t given me much more than that this is somewhere between a platformer, flying game and relates to you transforming. I’m not quite sure how all of that fits together and it sounds like one of the draws here is that it is that bit different, with its own style.

Our Thoughts

In Nights Into Dreams you go into the dreams of two characters, Claris and Elliott, and transform them into Nights. You start each level with this jester-like creature flying around one of the dream world, gathering blue spheres so you can defeat an enemy and gain a gem to advance. This is pretty on rails – while each level is a 3D world, you have a single course through each of them and the game feels a lot more like a 2D platformer during these sections: you only go up and down and left and right, but don’t get a free choice where you go. Instead you see the other course elements fly past in the background or the two intersect.

It’s a pretty fun first half where you can have a lot of fun flying around, beating your previous times and so on. It’s a neat game and I enjoyed exploring these areas and perfecting my time.

The other half is the boss level. In these you have to beat them within a time limit, damaging them often enough to get through. I don’t think I managed to beat any of these – it was always unclear to me how I had to beat them while the time limits were incredibly tight. At least twice I died from a lack of time when their health bar seemed empty and the difficulty seemed arbitrarily hard – untuned and unexplained. It meant there was a hard blocker there, even as I banged my head against it several times. It’s a real shame, as the first half is a lot of fun and the designs and gameplay in the second half looks really interesting, I just couldn’t get to the right place with it.

Final Thoughts

I believe Nights Into Dreams‘ difficulty has been mentioned elsewhere. While obviously the graphics have dated, the clear cartoon art style works well and flying around these levels felt like a treat – I kept wishing each level had more paths through it. The boss battles were a hard blocker though, which was a real shame as I wanted to see more worlds and learn more of how the critters walking around it were meant to develop.