As our weeklong celebration of NiGHTS’ 25th anniversary comes to an end, it feels appropriate to end on a feature all about reflecting on moments from those twenty-five years. It didn’t feel right to run this celebration without hearing from certain people, so we decided to reach out to TRiPPY and DiGi Valentine, two prominent members of the NiGHTS community who run nightsintodreams.com, which is a superb resource for the franchise.
So here you are: four NiGHTS memories from the staff of two websites. Feel free to share your own in the comments!
I think my greatest memory of NiGHTS into Dreams was when i had the ‘coin-drop’ moment and I realised I actually liked the game, because truth be told when I first saw it I wasn’t too keen on it. It was 1996 and I had become somewhat addicted to a little arcade racing game known as Daytona USA. My friend owned a port of Daytona on his SEGA Saturn and I was eager to check it out. I went around to his place after school one Friday night and I was expecting to see Daytona USA on his TV screen, but instead he booted up something called ‘NiGHTS’. He played for a few minutes and tried to explain the nature of the game to me but I just had very little interest. I wanted to play Daytona USA, so we switched games and played that for a few hours. By the time I left his house I had completely forgotten about that weird flying game.
Fast forward a few months later, my friend sells me his SEGA Saturn along with a few of the games. NiGHTS was included in that bundle but naturally I didn’t care for it so the game got pushed to the side. It wasn’t until my cousin visited one weekend when the game came up in conversation. My cousin saw it and said “Wait. You’ve got NiGHTS into Dreams?” and I was like “…oh, that thing? Yeah. Why?” My cousin went on to explain that the game was from the same team that created Sonic the Hedgehog and it was a pretty big experimental game for them. He wanted to play it so I let him, while I just sat back and watched. Again, it doesn’t grab me, but because I’m in no eager rush to put on Daytona USA I let my cousin play for a few hours while I just observed …and then gradually it finally happened.
The ‘coin-drop’. It was a combination of the movement and music that finally got my attention. While my friend had just done a quick run-through of the first stage to show me what the game was about, my cousin was playing the game for enjoyment. He wanted to see what this ‘Sonic Team’ had created, so he was putting the game through its paces. My cousin made NiGHTS loop and dip and swoop and twirl, pulling off extravagant fluid maneuverers within a single string of button motions. The roaring whimsical up-tempo soundtrack was complimenting everything my cousin was doing on screen. It looked and sounded incredible, I couldn’t believe I had almost overlooked this game. I would go on to try the game for myself and, once I actually understood how the game was supposed to be played, I ended up absolutely loving it!
I still look back on that ‘coin-drop’ moment as a defining point in my life, and feel really thankful that it happened at all. I would have missed out on so much had I never given NiGHTS that second chance. It’s pretty wild to think about the journey in context and tracing it all back to one single moment in time where I specifically remember thinking “…oh wow. I think I actually like this weird flying game.” Crazy.
What can you say about NiGHTS that hasn’t already been said? It’s considered a cult classic for a reason! I was never lucky enougn to get my hands on a SEGA Saturn as a kid, but once the game was remastered and made available on PC, I jumped on it faster than Sonic jumps on robots.
The original NiGHTS is an experience unlike any other; while your first playthrough might be filled with confusion and overstimulation, once you get the hang of the controls and work out the objective, you won’t want to put it down. NiGHTS is one of my favorite games of all time for its addictive gameplay and imaginitive aesthetics, and I hope SEGA will bring the franchise back with a truly incredible sequel.
Late 2007 is a weird, nostalgic time for me. The seventh generation of consoles was just getting started, games like Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3 and Halo 3 had just come out, and I was moving out of my childhood home to go to college at the start of the very next year. Despite all the amazing games that came out during that period, NiGHTS Journey of Dreams is the game I think of when I think about that transition, because it was the very last game I played.
It was the night before I needed to leave, just a day after New Years. Most of my things were packed, aside from my Wii, which I’d be putting away the following morning. I wanted to beat Journey of Dreams before I left, since I was so close to the end. I hadn’t loved the game, but it had still given me a fair amount of enjoyment, and I wanted to see it through to the end.
It would be final game I beat in my old home, and the first one I completed in the new year. I flew through Bellbridge and saw the game’s true ending after having spent the last week getting Cs on everything. Say what you will about JoD (I certainly have), but the game has a whimsical atmosphere that in hindsight, just feels…like an appropriate end to those days for me.
Even now, so many years later, when I play JoD I get nostalgic for my last days of childhood, especially that final night.
In my time as both a NiGHTS fan, fanbase admin and then a SEGA employee who got to directly work on NiGHTS, it’s difficult for me to pick one favorite moment. There have been so many wonderful things I’ve been lucky enough to experience. So I think this time I’d like to talk about something more personal that really stuck out for me.
It was the 90’s, high-school was not being particularly kind to me. I was this quiet awkward kid with bright red hair who’d sit drawing Sonic characters all day long all over my school jotters. SEGA and NiGHTS were something that I adored and kept me focused on staying happy in very hard times. At that point me and my family had been homeless for around four years and we’d just moved into our first proper home. I had stability and personal space again to draw, but the relentless bullying at school had not stopped. I was good for drawing people art and that was about it. I really wanted to be more than that.
NiGHTS as a game has this wonderful story of chasing your dreams and believing in yourself. It was pure cheese, but done in such a masterful way that it was really open to a lot of self interpretation. At school I was always one of the ‘art’ kids, but I really wanted to get my confidence back and start pursuing Drama/Theater as a subject too. Our high-school was known for putting on these hugely extravagant stage shows, all the coolest popular kids would audition. The biggest show the school had ever planned was announced and they opened for singing auditions.
One afternoon my friend was running her audition rehearsal past me, I sat there thinking, of all things, about Claris from NiGHTS into Dreams. In the game Claris lost her self confidence in her voice when auditioning for her city’s anniversary musical. After helping NiGHTS she regained her bravery in the waking world to get the part she wanted so much in that musical. Claris faced her fears. So, picture the scene, my friend is asking me how her rehearsal sounds- and instead I just blurt out that I’m going to audition for the big show too. She laughs a bit, she’s never in all this time heard me sing. Ever. I was very shy. So I sit her down and I sing her own audition song back at her word for word. She froze. Then the most bonkers thing happened, she started crying. A lot. She makes me promise I’ll audition.
The next day I stand on that big empty theater stage. The musical director is genuinely surprised to see me there because he only knows me for my art. I can sense they’re probably just humoring me. So I take a deep breath, center myself, then I belt out my song (with my knees probably visibly shaking from space) while thinking about NiGHTS and Claris. Every bit of my energy I put into that audition. I wanted to be heard. I finish to the sound of the director and the popular drama kids clapping and hollering at me. “Where did THAT come from?!” he yells laughing. I got a main principle part on the spot, haha. I’d faced my fears just like Claris and now I was going to be in a musical.
From there the show got really popular in our city and ended up being in the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I actually ended up opening the show on the first night in front of a big audience and press. Pyrotechnics, backing dancers, 5 star newspaper reviews. All because of this pretty little SEGA Saturn game teaching me to believe in myself. I’m not the only one either, in all the years of doing admin stuff for the NiGHTS fanbase I’ve heard from many other singers and musicians who found their courage because of NiGHTS. It takes a really special game to motivate people in their personal lives. Thank you, Sonic Team!
And that’s it for our 7 Days of NiGHTS features! We hope you enjoyed them! For a full overview of everything, you can check out our initial announcement article here.