So I finally got around to playing my Japanese Sega Saturn a couple of weeks ago. It's been dusted off and fitted with new "2032" batteries, and it's practically as good as new. With the excitement surrounding the new NiGHTS installment for the Nintendo Wii, I felt it was necessary to re-experience the greatness of the originals especially if NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams doesn't live up to its predecessor.
I grew up playing NiGHTS (and NiGHTS xmas), and it's a franchise that I rank as one of my all-time favorites, right alongside REZ. It was actually very inspiring to my imagination as a kid. Musically, and visually, it was just incredible, then, and even a little so now.
The right way to experience NiGHTS is to play a course over and over again, to really get into the rhythm of it. It is then you'll understand what the game is all about. The first levels of Elliot and Claris, are perfect for getting high Links. They're small enough to get through quickly, and designed to make continuous links without much interruption.
At it's heart, NiGHTS is basically a high-score based game, with gameplay revolving around repetition. Players must move NiGHTS though a series of dynamic levels, racking up points by making continuous Links, and tricks, in a timed course. If Sonic the Hedgehog could fly, he would essentially be NiGHTS. Yet NiGHTS is more than just Sonic in the air. NiGHTS is a very fluid character, and can move in almost any direction the player commands.
What I enjoy most about NiGHTS is the looseness of the gameplay but the tight feel and control the player has over the character. It's a sweet spot that's hard to explain. Getting into the rhythm of a course is addicting, I find myself zoning out, much like when I play REZ. The courses are designed in a way to give players the freedom to experiment with their own techniques, of using loops, and linking to get through the level the fastest. It's awesome.
I believe the highest Link I ever got was 305, in Splash Garden (NiGHTS). In Spring Valley (Xmas NiGHTS) it was a little over 200. The joy of the game is that I'm always up to the challenge of beating my score, and getting a higher link.
If you're gonna be buying the new NiGHTS, you MUST play either XMAS NiGHTS or NiGHTS into Dreams!!! Buy a Sega Saturn for these two games!