With Wi-Fi connection logo
– it’s all in that lowercase ‘i’, you know. (Just like everything you need to know about SPOnG is found in the lowercase ‘n’.) I loved NiGHTS
on the Saturn – it completely wrong footed everyone when it was released, and I must confess that I didn’t quite get it until a few weeks after first playing it. It was, in many ways, Yuji Naka’s challenger to Miyamoto’s Super Mario 64
(certainly much more so than the aborted Sonic Xtreme
was ever going to be) – nothing like NiGHTS
had even been attempted until the supremely talented Sonic Team set about making dreams playable. Even though the Saturn wasn’t designed to push polygons, NiGHTS
presented a beautiful 3D world. Most important of all, it had a unique play style and a euphoric sense of freedom; and that music!
Anyway, I could talk about the original NiGHTS
all day long, but that’s not the main topic here. The subject of this review is the controversial follow-up to NiGHTS
on Nintendo’s Wii. Many of us had already resigned ourselves to the seemingly undeniable truth that we were never going to see a NiGHTS 2
(which is what Journey of Dreams
is). Then the rumours began, and the rumours grew, and eventually Sega confirmed the rumours: incredibly, NiGHTS 2
was in development and destined for Nintendo’s wildly popular new console.
Well, now it’s here. And listen – we’ve played it enough to know that NiGHTS 2
was NOT worth waiting a decade for, and that the original is NEVER likely to be bettered. That’s the disappointing conclusion.
(Oh crap, was that some negative form of literary premature ejaculation? What are we going to talk about now?)
But don’t go away just yet. Journey of Dreams
, in spite of this, is not a disaster. It’s just badly misguided in several areas.
For a start, the story: What is
this? Not only are NiGHTS and Reala capable of speaking out loud, they also have annoying voices and talk way too much. Everyone in Journey of Dreams
is suffering from verbal diarrhoea. The worst offender is a shitting owl that can’t stop saying “Hoo!”.
The game gets off to a particularly ignominious start by wasting ten minutes of your time with an unskippable broadcast of this crapfest. NiGHTS: Into Dreams
was much quieter and more refined – it had class; Journey of Dreams
just has a bad case of ‘games-can-be-like-Hollywood’-itis. There’s owl crap dropping all over the place, so you’d better watch your head.
Misstep no. 2: flying is limited. NiGHTS
is about flying through dreams and paralooping and being free and collecting collectables; and flying to defeat big bad bosses. It is NOT about simulating the 3D platforming action of a first-generation PlayStation game. But Sonic Team USA seems to have thought it would be OK to tamper with the NiGHTS
formula by introducing some horrible, ugly 3D platforming sections. Fortunately these stages don’t take up too much of the game, but there’s nothing joyful about them – they’re just unnecessary and offensive chores to work through between flying levels.