NiGHTS into dreams… HD is my Wonder-Drug

After much delay, I finally started playing NiGHTS into dreams… HD. I’ve never played too many games on my PC just because I didn’t even have a proper controller for a lot of the genres I normally play otherwise, but I decided to just go, “To hell with it” and purchase an X-Box 360 controller. I know I was hankering for some retro gaming when I decided to buy it in euros even though it’d cost me a little extra.

I’m not really going to review NiGHTS here just because the game has such a powerful reputation, a cult classic that all Sega Saturn owners either remember fondly or always pined after. It is indeed an exquisite game, especially in its visual presentation and its smooth controls, but what I’ve found upon returning to my old favorite is that the game occupies this strange space for me where it is both somehow therapeutic while at the same time motivating and challenging.

Actually, I will say one thing about the game: it doesn’t control quite like the original Sega Saturn NiGHTS, and while the difference isn’t huge, it’s still noticeable for someone like me who poured hours and hours and hours into the old one. Playing widescreen can also throw off my sense of timing because the camera changes at ever-so-slightly different points.

I’ve written previously about how a current hobby of mine, Japanese mahjong, is a combination of luck and deception, and is thus enormously nerve-wracking. NiGHTS isn’t this, but it also doesn’t feel “casual” or “mindless.” Rather, it’s a game with a simple, clear-cut goal (get the highest score while beating each stage and boss), but I always feel like the game is only as intense as I want it to be. Unlike another perennial favorite of mine, Pokemon, it also isn’t hampered by the permanence of decisions (can’t use your single-player team because it wasn’t EV-trained properly!!!) If I want to just enjoy the bright colors and scenery, I can. If I want to push myself to get as close to perfect as possible, I can. If I just want to fight the bosses over and over again (and I do love doing that), I actually can now, thanks to NiGHTS HD. I can kill Gulpo in 10 seconds.

That reminds me that, even back then, my biggest complaint about the game is that the bosses are simply too easy regardless of whether you’ve played the game a ton or not. It’s the one thing that I think the sequel, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, improved upon tremendously (except for that stupid and frustrating fight against Bomamba).

GET NiGHTS iNTO DREAMS HD

If you ask me what my favorite video game ever is, my answer is unwavering and undeniable: NiGHTS into dreams… An absolute classic of the Sega Saturn, I poured countless hours into the game just enjoying everything, from the environments to the clever boss fights, from the excellent music to the crisp and ultra-smooth gameplay. No game that I’ve played, including its Wii sequel, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, has quite captured the movement of acrobatic flight that the original endowed upon players. I can wax nostalgic on this game until the end of the time, but I’ll cut it short by just saying that no game feels quite like it.

Now, NiGHTS is getting a downloadable HD remix. When I first saw the character models used for the kids, I immediately thought of the old blockier gameplay models. I have to wonder if they somehow took the models from the old cut scenes and used those instead, or if they’re built from scratch.

Are you part of the new generation that’s never seen a Saturn? Are you part of the old generation but just never got a chance to play it because you chose the Playstation over the Saturn (like most people ended up doing?) I think it is only in your favor to try it out. And if the HD version is somehow messed up, the game actually includes the original Saturn version as well, so no worries there.

Actually, one thing I am concerned with is the controllers themselves, as while playing the Wii NiGHTS I found the octagonal gate of the Nintendo analog sticks to compromise the smoothness of the flight needed to play a NiGHTS game properly, and it is probably because of the controller that it could not capture that feeling of acrobatic flight I mentioned at the beginning. The Saturn 3D controller’s analog control was so incredibly smooth and nice to use (though the controller itself was kind of clunky) that it makes every analog stick or equivalent since then pale in comparison.

I will have faith that the current consoles will be able to deal with it adequately for now, though I am concerned with the Windows edition. Does anyone know of a Saturn-to-USB converter for controllers?