TGS 07: Nights: Journey of Dreams (Wii) Hands-On

September 20, 2007

Nights into Dreams was one of the most popular games on the Sega Saturn, but for that reason alone I’m willing to bet that more than a few gamers have never heard of it before the Wii sequel was announced. For those who don’t know, the series centers around the sensation of flight, with boys and girls banishing their nightmares by taking control of a jester-like creature called Nights.

I know about Nights, but this is my first time actually playing it. As such, I didn’t really know what to expect until I picked up the Wiimote and got started. Like most Wii games, the graphics are certainly nothing to write home about, though they are definitely colorful and interesting to look at. They do a good job of leaving the impression of a dream world, which I imagine was the designer’s goal.

The camera remains fixed at a somewhat awkward isometric view, only periodically moving behind Nights as she flies around the stage. For the purposes of the demonstration, I was directed to the dream park stage, where I floated around collecting jewels and other objects for a while amid the foresty green. Flight feels like its on rails – Your character is always moving forward, with an occasional burst of acceleration used to catch up to targets.

It took a while getting used to the controls. I kept wanting to push forward to make Nights fly ahead (intuitive, no?), but I kept doing backwards. Finally, after much prodding from my Japanese assistant, I realized that I actually had to press right to move forward, which felt wrong from that perspective. I was eventually able to get used to it though, snagging all three birds in the stage and grabbing the keys they were carrying.

Once I cleared the first stage, it was on to the boss, a large, floating beach ball-like clown creature that mostly floated about the stage harmlessly. My goal was to push it all the way to the top of the stage, but it was difficult as the perspective kept shifting. I was finally on my way up, but alas, I ran out time and my dream was over.

Anticipated as this game is by some, I was left feeling underwhelmed by the demonstration. With so many AAA games hitting the market soon, it’s difficult for me to recommend what felt like a relatively simple game with somewhat confusing controls. No doubt fans who remember the Saturn will pick this one up, and there are indeed some things to recommend it, including the use of different masks to change speeds and the use of the Forecast Channel for various features. As for me, if I want a starry platformer-like game, I may just stick with Mario Galaxy.