You could hear it everywhere around Tokyo Game Show; people were talking about Sega’s NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. “Did you see NiGHTS? What did you think of NiGHTS?” Attendees were all talking about how the Sega Saturn game about flying through your dreams made its transition to the Nintendo Wii. Even on the first two business-only days, lines at the NiGHTS demo stations were long, and it seemed like everyone we spoke with had something to say about it. We had a chance to play through an entire level and boss battle, and much like the others, we have a few things to say about NiGHTS.
Sega’s initial go around with NiGHTS brought their first analog controller to market, and many have wondered how the control scheme would make the transition to Wii. We were surprised to see that not much has changed. The Wii Nunchuck’s analog stick controls movement much like the Saturn analog controller did, and the Wii Remote’s “A” button covers “dash”. The only real change we noticed was that the aerial acrobatics that were mapped to the Saturn’s L and R trigger buttons are now assigned to Wii Remote movements. Much like the first game, trial and error with Wii Remote movements produced varied in-flight tricks, and the pairing of gestures to tricks worked surprisingly well.
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That being said, the control lacks the tightness and fluidity that the first NiGHTS had, and many other gaming press and industry members we spoke with agreed. While the Saturn NiGHTS control was almost instantly accessible, the Wii NiGHTS seemed to have a bit of a learning curve, and it seems like it has something to do with the analog control. The degree of movement seems more constrained, and NiGHTS seems to be a bit less capable than before. After some time with the game, the control begins to set in, but the Wii version lacks that ease that made movement seem like flight. That’s a real shame, seeing as how the game is about flying.
After selecting a character, one of two siblings are dropped into the dream world, where they will eventually transform into NiGHTS and take flight. The gameplay has changed very little since the original version. Players guide NiGHTS over obstacles, around enemies, and through series of rings, all the while collecting enough orbs to progress to the next stage. Other than a few new tricks, the basic premise is still the same, and players will find themselves flying through circular courses to meet stage requirements, eventually moving onto a boss battle.
After moving through three courses that were very similar to the original NiGHTS’ first level, I encountered a floating balloon-like boss that was also very similar to one of the original game’s bosses. And again, like the levels leading up to it, the strategy to defeat this boss was very similar to the first game. I flew around to throw the floating boss into walls, eventually taking her down.
While the levels and enemies were very similar to those of the first game, everything looks better in the Wii version. We were relieved, as some of the game footage we’ve come across didn’t seem like much of an improvement. We’re glad to say that the levels are full and lush, and have much more visual depth than the original — this is a great looking Wii game.
From what we saw, this Wii version of NiGHTS seems like an upgrade, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The later levels we saw (but did not play through) did seem a bit more advanced and challenging, but for us to play through levels and a boss so similar to the first game was a bit underwhelming. The good thing is that we’ve been asking for a new NiGHTS, and Sega delivered. We’re hoping that more time spent with NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will reveal something a bit deeper and challenging.