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Nights into Dreams HD Review

November 26th, 2012 by

Remakes of retro games have become a major part of todays console release schedule, ranging from the old school such as Manic Miner to the last generation with ICO and Shadow of the Colossus.

All these games though, have one thing in common. They all sold incredibly well or had a large cult following in their previous iterations and Sega, no longer in the console arms race, are leading  the charge on remaking their titles for the current generation of machines.

Nights Into Dreams has always been a title that evaded definition. Having not played the original back in the day on the Sega Saturn, I was excited to get to grips with this game to find out what all the fuss was about back in the day.

The plot premise revolves around two children, Elliot and Claris, who have entered the world of the Nightmaren only to have their Ideya, (dream energy), stolen. It is at this point that they discover Nights, an imprisoned Nightmaren who is willing to help recover the childrens lost Ideya, if they let Nights out of the Ideya Palace.

The Ideya Palace is utilised as the starting point for each of the zones, with Elliot and Claris using their remaining Red Ideya to unlock the Ideya Palace and take on the role of Nights.

Each level has you collecting Orbs, and once 20 are collected, you can release your captured Ideya. This can be done using either of the two children, but is far easier when using Nights who has the ability to fly. Once 20 have been gathered all further orbs turn gold, and add to your end of stage score. Grabbing orbs and stars, flying through the many rings throughout the stage and killing enemies, all activate the combo system. The more of these actions you combine, the greater your end score will be.

Mastering the scoring system is not the be all and end all of this game, and you can quite simply negotiate the stages, marveling at the smooth and vibrant world through which you are traversing, which is something truly special and enjoyable. Upon completing each of the stages you are then left with a final lap, where all of the orbs, now gold, add additional points to your true score.

While the environment appears three dimensional, it is actually a Faux-3D, with each section of the level traversing a two dimension path in a 3D terrain. Skillful utilisation of the camera sells the illusion to the observer, and allows you to concentrate solely on controlling Nights over the two axis on the available playing field. To this end, the controls are finely balanced and responsive enough to give you the freedom to enjoy flying through the experience.

True to the games of the late 90′s, nothing is given for free. In those days, checkpoints were few and far between, if they existed at all and mistakes were punished. This game is no exception. Once you complete each stage of the level, you proceed to a boss fight. Unlike most games of today, there are seldom visual or dialogue cues to explain how to defeat these enemies, and should you fail, its straight back to the start of the level to collect the Ideya once again. There is appeal in a game that punishes you for making mistakes, but with no true idea what you should be doing, it always feels that you are being punished unduly as you simply do not have the information to accomplish the task at hand.

Alongside this hurdle in the gameplay,  there is sparse explanation as to the plot surrounding the game, and my overview above is summarised from the opening cut scenes and some digging around on the internet.

Nights’ HD remake is undoubtedly a unique title and has benefited greatly from this graphical overhaul to make it look new and shiny, but the clunky controls when not in Nights form, punishing gameplay and lack of direction can be hard to overlook even with its new graphical veneer.

This is first and foremost a release for those fans of the title, as very few people who missed the original Saturn title will find the true appeal of this niche title.

MLG Rating: 6/10 Platform: XBLA/PSN Release Date: 05/10/2012

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Nights into Dreams HD for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a Xbox360. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

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