If you want to know what’s happening in the world of Sonic the Hedgehog, then you’re in the right place! The Sonic Stadium’s News section is your first stop for all the latest information. Whether it’s news about video games, comics, TV shows or even movies, we have you covered!
Sometimes, even the creators of a game don’t know what’s been shown of it.
A little over thirty-one years ago, the Japanese magazine Famicon Tsushin printed screenshots of Sonic 1, taken from the game’s Tokyo Toy Show 1990 build. A few days ago, those screens resurfaced on Twitter, shortly after the magazine was posted to Archive.org, thanks to @VGDensetsu. The screenshots featured a clear look at an unused Sonic 1 beta enemy, from before badniks were created. While this technically wasn’t the first time a decent screenshot of this enemy was found (and blurry screenshots were around in the mid-2000s), it did mark the first time it garnered widespread attention from the Sonic community…and Yuji Naka!
Naka’s reaction was one of surprise: he had no memory of screenshots of the enemy ever being taken. In a tweet, roughly translated by Google, Naka said “I don’t have much memory of putting this enemy on the screen, so it may be a screen I made, but I feel like I couldn’t do that at that time, so it’s a mystery.” Obviously, the usual caveats of relying on flawed Google translations apply here.
You can check out the VGDensetsu tweet here, and you can find the scan below:
As online entertainment has taken over my diet, it’s rare to really encounter the style of toy commercials I used to ingest in my youth, but JAKKS Pacific haven’t given up the style even if the medium has shifted.
The Dr. Eggman Robot Battle Set is now available online and in-stores at Target in the US, and it comes with the ever classic kid-playing-in-living-room ad complete with Sonic 2 video clip and BATTLE DAMAGE!!
Did you check out the new Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania trailer that SEGA released today? If so, you may have noticed an interesting teaser at the end of it. And it features a familiar face we know all too well.
Finally, after many months of waiting, we have a release date for the SEGA-fied version of one of the greatest puzzle games ever, Picross S. The digital-only title, fully known as Picross S: Mega Drive (or Genesis) & Mark III (or Master System) Edition, will launch exclusively on Nintendo Switch on August 5.
Today, STRAY RATS have revealed the full range via their website – and it is nothing short of fantastic! The line draws upon a style not seen since the early days of Sonic, with many items paying testament to classic titles such as Sonic CD…and even Sonic the Fighters!
Some of you might also recognise the immense Sonic the Hedgehog collection in the backdrop as none-other than that of TreasureHuntingSonic!
What’s that age-old saying… “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again”? Well, a UK-based Sonic fan is taking that phrase a little too literally, as he and a group of mates have announced a plan to race through the first Act of Sonic & Knuckles’ Sandopolis Zone more than 600 times in a row! That’s very brave!
It’s taken them a while, but it looks like Nintendo has finally opened up digital pre-orders for the Switch version of Sonic Colours Ultimate on its eShop. Go ahead and get your virtual foot in the door now!
Depending on which region you grew up in, you might have come to know one of Sonic Triple Trouble’s main antagonists as either Fang the Sniper in Japan or Nack the Weasel in the west. But why the two names? Character creator ‘TOUMA’, explained to fans via twitter this week as to the origin of the two aliases, amongst other bits of character information!
Did you know that Sonic the Hedgehog technically has TWO anniversaries? That’s right – even though SEGA’s blue blur first landed on the Mega Drive and Genesis on June 23rd, 1991, that was only in Europe and North America. In Japan, the original Mega Drive release of Sonic the Hedgehog was a month later, on July 26. That makes today Sonic’s official 30th Anniversary in his creators’ homeland!
It might seem obvious to most that, being the country best known for video games, Japan would reference a game or two during its hosting of the Olympic Games. But it’s nonetheless surprising to hear a new orchestral arrangement of Sonic the Hedgehog’s ‘Star Light Zone’ during the Games’ Opening Ceremony, which is taking place right now.
SEGA’s Two Point Studios has shot out a reminder that its Sonic the Hedgehog collaboration content for Two Point Hospital will be coming to PC and consoles at the end of July. They’ve done so by sharing a funky new render of the costumes you’ll be able to obtain with the incoming update.
As if we needed any more reason to be excited about IDW’s Sonic 30th Anniversary comic, we now have a high quality version of the one-shot comic’s cover artwork. And it beautifully references the PAL box art of the original Mega Drive Sonic the Hedgehog box art.
Since release, there’s been subtle and not so subtle hints that the Switch version of Sonic Colors Ultimate won’t hit 60 FPS as it will on other consoles. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin is the recent Sonic Colors Ultimate HD Updates trailer, which differs ever so slightly between the official Sonic YouTube and the official Nintendo YouTube.
The absence of 4K is obvious, but it seems that the change in engine may push just a bit past what the Switch can handle at 60FPS. While unfortunate if you’re a technically-minded Switch owner, for everyone else it further emphasizes that there’s more going on under the hood than just upscaling an 11-year-old game. If you want some silver lining, the original game ran at 30 FPS on the Wii, so you’re certainly no worse off.
FPS and 4K aside, all other new features match among all platforms, such as the new Wisp power, character customization, Tails save, music remixes, etc…
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!
Before NiGHTS into Dreams… became widely available with its HD release in 2012, many people (including myself) first encountered the series through its copious amount of cameos, largely in Sonic Team games.
I don’t think any celebration of NiGHTS would be complete without an overview of the character’s many, many cameos in other SEGA properties. This is hardly a complete list, of course, but we’re at least touching on many of the character’s more notable appearances!
Released in 1998, Sonic Adventure’s NiGHTS pinball game in Casinopolis is the franchise’s earliest cameo, and how many of us were first introduced to it. Players knock the pinball around the table, trying to collect cards which feature numerous NiGHTS characters. Collecting more then one of the same card nets a load of rings, and opens up a portal to a second, Nightmare themed pinball table.
Between the tables, cards, and two neat looking animations that showcase the NiGHTS world, this remains one of the coolest NiGHTS cameos SEGA has done.
It was also possible to create NiGHTS chao by giving them flying animals.
NiGHTS made a brief appearance as two of a multitude of capsule toys that could be collected in SEGA’s 1999 open world game, Shenmue.
NiGHTS popped up again in SEGA’s Sonic party game, Sonic Shuffle, released in 2000. When the Dreamcast’s clock was set to December 24, NiGHTS would replace Lumina as the game’s guide in multiplayer matches. Sonic Shuffle also takes place in a dream world, and Lumina herself bears some visual similarities to NiGHTS, which is probably why Hudson Soft included the easter egg.
Sonic Adventure 2
The NiGHTS cameos are way less noticeable in Sonic Adventure 2, but they are there. NiGHTS decorated a few levels, such as Radical Highway and City Escape. The game also features NiGHTS-inspired Chao like the first game.
Sonic Pinball Party
When Sonic returned to pinball in 2003 with Sonic Pinball Party for the Game Boy Advance, it was only fitting NiGHTS was brought along for the ride. Featured as one of the game’s three pinball tables, this one drew significantly more inspiration from NiGHTS into Dreams… then the table from Sonic Adventure.
This table aims to replicate NiGHTS in pinball form. The pinball needs to be hit into an ideya palace three times to dualize with NiGHTS. From there, it needs to be knocked into the ideya to get it. After all four ideya are collected, the player can then face the boss, which appears in the upper right corner of the table.
With a total of 12 table designs based on the game’s first six levels and bosses, this is one of the most extensive NiGHTS appearances outside of the franchise’s games.
Billy Hatcher & the Giant Egg
NiGHTS was one of several Sonic Team characters to appear as an “egg animal” in the developer’s 2003 platformer Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg. Like all those characters, NiGHTS is both difficult to obtain and severely overpowered. Unlocking NiGHTS requires collecting 180 “chick coins.” Once that’s done, NiGHTS can be hatched from a Sonic egg found in Giant Palace’s fourth mission.
Billy Hatcher also had an unlockable downloadable mini-game for the GBA, NiGHTS Score Attack. This game could also be downloaded from Phantasy Star Online Episodes I&II.
NiGHTS appeared in 2006’s Sonic Riders and its sequel, Zero Gravity, as a flight-type character. Unlocking NiGHTS in the first game required the completion of all missions, while getting them in the sequel only required beating all story missions. In addition to NiGHTS, Sonic Riders also had a track with an area based on NiGHTS.
SEGA Superstars/Sonic & All-Stars
SEGA Superstars, a 2004 PS2 mini game collection made for Sony’s Eyetoy camera, had a NiGHTS mini game. In this, you waved your arms around to control NiGHTS as they flew through rings. This is arguably NiGHTS’s first playable cameo.
Years later, in 2008, NiGHTS and Reala would both appear as playable characters in SEGA Superstars Tennis, along with a court based on Journey of Dreams’ Aqua Garden. In 2010, NiGHTS would appear as a flagman in Sumo Digital’s second SEGA crossover game, Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing. In 2012’s Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, NiGHTS and Reala appeared as playable vehicles, driven by a Nightopian and Nightmaren respectively.
Sonic Lost World
The Wii U version of Sonic Lost World came with free NiGHTS DLC in its early physical copies, labeled “The Deadly Six Edition,” and would later be included in all PC versions of the game. This DLC was essentially a boss rush, featuring all of the bosses from the first NiGHTS game (aside from Reala) teaming up with the Deadly Six to fight Sonic. There were also brief auto-running sections where Sonic could home in on blue chips and go through rings from NiGHTS.
The battles were easy, and mostly just variations of the Deadly Six’s original boss battles, but it did give us Wii U-quality HD models of all of NiGHTS into Dreams’ Nightmaren bosses for the first time, which is neat.
NiGHTS became the basis for an unlockable costume set in what is currently Sonic Team’s latest Sonic game, Sonic Forces. This set included headgear, body gear, and footwear.
NiGHTS has a pretty long history of appearing in Sonic Team’s games, as well as the occasional title from SEGA’s other developers. With NiGHTS tied so closely to SEGA’s blue mascot, that could continue to keep the character around even if they never get another game. Here’s hoping they pop up in Sonic 2022!
Ever wanted a Tails plush that shakes when you hug him? Well, Kid Robot made one! A 16” HugMe Tails plush is now available for pre-order for $41.99. The plush, which runs on three AA batteries, will shake when hugged, or when it detects a clap. It’s expected to ship sometime in Q4 2021.
In addition to Tails, there is also a Sonic HugMe plush that’s been available for pre-order for a few months now, and is expected to ship in Q3 2021. You can pre-order the Tails plush here, and the Sonic plush here.
Special thanks to Bulbasquirtle85 from our Discord for the tip!
If you’re visiting this site, chances are you have a guilty pleasure or two made by Sonic Team. A game with flaws that you overlook because there is something else about it you love. I myself have enjoyed a few Sonic games that are, at best, divisive. But out of all of Sonic Team’s less critically acclaimed games, there are none that I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of than Takashi Iizuka’s NiGHTS sequel, Journey of Dreams.
My feelings on JoD have always been…mixed. But in recent years, I‘ve come to realize it shares more qualities with Sonic Adventure 1 and 2 than some of Sonic Team’s less well-thought-of games. Like the Adventure games, JoD has its flaws, and there are many parts of the game I never return to, and some areas I just don’t like. But what I enjoy, I enjoy a lot, and I’ve gotten hours of entertainment out of periodically returning to them over the years. At this point, it’s probably my favorite Sonic Team game from the post-Dreamcast, pre-Colors era. It is, in my mind, their most underappreciated game from this entire period.
Before I get into the good or the bad, I should probably layout what the game is, right?
It’s happened again. Another Sonic 30th anniversary game has popped up on French retailer SoGamely: Team Sonic Racing 30th Anniversary Edition.
The retailer has the game listed for both Nintendo Switch and PS4, with a release date of October 27. You can check it out for yourself here.
People have already begun speculating that this release might have some sort of extra content, but another listing from the website G3 Great Games hints at something somewhat more mundane: a free artbook. The website, which lists the game for €29.99, also features a shot of the box art, which features a logo detailing a Sonic 30th anniversary artbook and nothing else. You can find the box art below. You can see the listing yourself here.
As always with rumors, the information could be wrong or incomplete. It’s possible that…for whatever reason, this listing is wrong and the product doesn’t exist, although the box art and multiple website listings are pretty compelling evidence.
It’s also possible that this is real and there could be more to this then just and artbook. Finally, it’s also possible that this is an EU exclusive release, meaning that people in other regions won’t be getting it. Whatever the case, this is listed for October, so we’ll probably know soon.
Special thanks goes to Josiahblaze from our discord for the news tip!
Nothing beats a good bit of funk – especially when it’s a big band cover version of the theme to Sonic the Hedgehog 3’s Hydrocity Zone!
Composer Tyler Mire leads a big band ensemble complete with reeds, horns, and rhythm section in this phenomenal tribute to one of the greatest 16-bit era Sonic sounds. You’ll want to listen to this more than once to properly aborb all of the layers to this!
The NiGHTS franchise may not be nearly as big as Sonic, but its had its fair share of merchandise over the years, much of which is now rare, expensive, and/or obscure. I thought it would be fun to explore some of what’s been made over the years. This is far from a complete list, but we’re at least going over some of the more interesting bits of merch NiGHTS has had in the last 25 years.
NiGHTS into Dreams UFO Plushies
NiGHTS into Dreams didn’t receive much in the way of plushies, but it did get one set of them…which were made exclusively for SEGA’s UFO Capture devices. For those unaware, these devices were claw machines, and could often be found in arcades. The NiGHTS plushies have been rare and expensive for decades, and a single one of these plushies typically commands a price of hundreds of dollars. If that sounds familiar to you Sonic fans, its because Sonic the Fighters had a plushy line that was distributed the same way, and is now just as rare and expensive.
There was also a line of Christmas SEGA plushes that includes many NiGHTS characters, as well as a line of small NiGHTS plush key chains. I think these were also for UFO Captures, but I’ve been unable to confirm that for his article. NiGHTS was also part of a 1996 SEGA keychain figure line, though I’m not sure how those were distributed.
NiGHTS into Dreams Soundtrack
Released days after the NiGHTS game on July 11, the OST was released exclusively in Japan for ¥28,000 under the PolyGram record label. Not an especially remarkable release, but it was at least enough for Sonic Team to include it amongst Christmas NiGHTS’ extras (which is where the photos for the plushes came from).
NiGHTS: Flying Through the Sky Without Wings (storybook)
In December of 1996, NiGHTS received a storybook adaptation. Published by Futabasha, the 54 page book was written by Kyoko Inukai and featured illustrations by Takumi Miyake. It’s a loose adaptation of the game’s story, though with many details changed or written out. The basic premise of Wizeman creating NiGHTS, and seeking to conquer Nightopia, remain intact. The story only features Elliot, as he learns to find the courage within himself. Outside of Reala and Wizeman, none of the other Nightmaren bosses appear. The ideya are nowhere to be found, instead replaced by a “red energy” likely inspired by the red ideya of courage.
The book would later be reprinted in 2008 and sold with the PS2 re-release of NiGHTS. The book was never translated into English, though TRiPPY over at nightsintodreams.com was able to get a fan translation done, which you can find here.
NiGHTS into Dreams… Tiger Electronics LCD Game
NiGHTS was one of the many SEGA IPs to get adapted into an LCD game by Tiger Electronics. The LCD game was released in 1997, and was also eventually re-released as part of Tiger’s “Pocket Arcade” line and as a game for their R-Zone LCD console.
NiGHTS into Dreams… Archie Comics
Sonic wasn’t the only SEGA series to get a comic adaptation from Archie. In late 1997, Archie Comics released a three issue NiGHTS mini series featuring writing from Dan Slott, as well as pencil breakdowns from renowned Sonic cover artist Patrick Spaziente and pencil finishes by Knuckles comic artist Manny Galan. The comics aren’t completely divorced from the game story, and does share some similarities. Just as in the games, NiGHTS was a creation of Wizeman who rebelled. Wizeman seeks to open a portal to the waking world.
It’s in the finer details where things diverge. Instead of taking any human’s dream energy, Wizeman needs the energy of specific dreamers who only come about every 100 years with “red ideya.” His initial attempt to do this, which is foiled by NiGHTS, inadvertently leads to the founding of the city of Twin Seeds, where Claris and Elliot live 100 years later.
The mini series would ultimately spawn a second three issue mini series in July of 1998, written by then Sonic writer Karl Bollers, and with pencil finishes by Sam Maxwell. After this second mini series, the NiGHTS comic was canceled. It has never been collected in a graphic novel or re-released digitally. There are, of course, ways, but you’ll need to find that for yourself.
Unsurprisingly, NiGHTS merchandise would take a break for awhile. The next bit of merch in this run down was released 9 whole years after the Archie Comics, in December of 2007. Released as part of a line of mini figurines by besidegames called PaPetch, the above figurine was released alongside NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams as a pre-order bonus in Japan.
The figurine was just a little over two inches two and based on JoD’s NiGHTS design.
NiGHTS & Reala from First4Figures
In 2015, First4Figures released a NiGHTS resin 12.5” statue as part of its SEGA All-Stars line. The statue came in both regular and “exclusive editions,” priced at $210 and $235, and limited to 1000 and 500 pieces respectively. The exclusive edition lit up.
Years later, in 2017, F4F held a vote to gauge interest in a Reala statue, which had been in production but was in danger of being canceled due to perceived lack of interest. The statue was made available for pre-order last year, and is being sold in both standard and exclusive variants for $330. As with NiGHTS, the exclusive edition lights up. Reala is scheduled to release in Q3 2021, and can still be bought here.
And the rest…
There’s more NiGHTS merch, of course. There’s promotional pillows, clothing, stickers, and probably other things I’v missed. SEGA’s US shop currently has a jigsaw puzzle, a shirt, and a Christmas ornament. My personal hope is that NiGHTS might receive something a bit more than some clothes and puzzles, but a bit less than a $200 statue. Here’s hoping we might get another plush that isn’t a super expensive collector’s item one day!
We all love Sonic Colours (and if you don’t, you’re a heathen). And no doubt we will all love Sonic Colours Ultimate even more – SEGA has released a Spotlight video that aims to highlight the improvements and features of the upcoming remaster – including a special ‘Rival Race’ feature and unlockable customisations for Sonic.
A listing on Penguin Random House’s website reveals that IDW comics are planning to release a mini series covering Sonic’s adventures between the first and second movies!
According to the pre-order page for the Official Movie “Pre-quill” (this listing is for a collection of what will comprise the comic series in it’s entirity), the 4-part mini series will cover the antics of Sonic, Tom, and Maddie, in the run-up to the second movie, due out in 2022.
From the source:
Catch up with Sonic and friends—if you can!—in this exclusive prequel to 2022’s most anticipated family film!
Life is good in Green Hills for Sonic the Hedgehog. Maybe too good. He’s starting to get bored, and when Sonic gets bored, things become a lot less boring for everyone else—fast!
Quicker than you can say “Chili Dog,” the Fastest Thing Alive is saving the day and causing all sorts of chaos along the way! Can Tom and Maddie help him keep his secrets now that he’s gotten a taste for heroics? Plus, new and returning characters starring in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 take the lead in stories of their own!
NiGHTS into Dreams… is my favorite Sonic Team game. As much as I love running around as the blue blur or slaughtering monsters online in PSO, its their purple androgynous dream jester that I keep closest to my heart. But it wasn’t always that way for me. For years, I just didn’t like it. NiGHTS’ journey to becoming one of my favorite games is a somewhat long and windy one, but something I want to share to help other people who don’t see the appeal understand why this game is so special to some of us.
Back during the Sonic 30th Anniversary Concert, Sonic 1 & 2 composer Masato Nakamura revealed that his band, Dream Come True, would release a new Green Hill remix featuring vocals written and performed by Miwa Yoshida.
Today, Dreams Come True officially released the single, “On the Green Hill,” on their Youtube channel. You can check it out below:
Though no new NiGHTS game was on the horizon by the late 90s, Sonic Team and SEGA still had plenty of love for the purple dream jester, and they demonstrated that a lot. Sonic Adventure featured an entire NiGHTS themed pinball table, which likely served as many Sonic fan’s first exposure to the character. When Dreamcast party game Sonic Shuffle’s multiplayer was played on December 24, NiGHTS replaced Lumina. Sonic Adventure 2 featured NiGHTS on numerous level assets and featured a chao based on them. The cameos continued even after the Dreamcast.
Sonic Pinball Party gave NiGHTS a second pinball table, and the character was playable in both the Sonic Riders games and SEGA Superstars, a mini game collection for the PS2’s Eyetoy. NIGHTS popped up in Billy Hatcher as a special unlockable character, and also starred in NiGHTS Score Attack, a special mini game that could be downloaded to the GBA over a link cable from both Billy Hatcher and Phantasy Star Online.
For over a decade, this was essentially how NiGHTS stuck around. It wouldn’t be until 2007, eleven years after the original game’s release, that this finally changed.
Takashi Iizuka had often talked about wanting to do a NiGHTS sequel, and finally got his chance in late 2005, after the completion of Shadow the Hedgehog. My mid-2006, NiGHTS Journey of Dreams was in full production for the Wii. Though some have speculated JoD may have been originally planned for HD consoles, Iizuka later confirmed it was built from the ground up for Nintendo’s system.
After a small delay, JoD launched in December of 2007. It would not be as well received as its predecessor, receiving mixed-to-positive reviews. The game also likely didn’t sell especially well, though sales numbers appear to be hard to confirm.
JoD kept several aspects from the original, including its 2.5 perspective, its focus on flight, the timer for NiGHTS, and the ability to link rings and blue chips together for higher scores. Unlike the previous game, players needed to chase down nightmarens riding large birds in order to collect keys to free NiGHTS, and there is no incentive to run the timer down. Instead, JoD encourages players to simply complete its stages as quickly as possible.
JoD also introduced a lot of brand new features, such as multiple missions per level, a significantly more fleshed out plot, an online multiplayer mode, and most infamously, platforming levels starring the children. It also has an area where Nightopians can be interacted with called “My Dream,” which is essentially a barebones chao garden. This open space can be filled with random objects from the game’s levels, as well as Nightopians and Nightmarens, which are sent here via paralooping.
JoD does a lot to try to modernize NiGHTS. While it has the same number of levels as its predecessor, it stretches those levels out by giving each five missions that reuse assets, including the aforementioned platforming sections. It also features loads of cutscenes and voice acting for all the characters.
JoD’s plot is essentially a reboot of the previous game, but with new kids: Helen and Will. The game features a new helper character, “Owl” who essentially serves the same purpose as Tikal and Omochao. Aside from NiGHTS, Wizeman and Reala also make a return. Everyone is sporting new, more complex designs.
There is a lot I could say about JoD, but that’s best left for another article. To this day, it continues to serve as the only other full game in the NiGHTS franchise. It would not be the last NiGHTS game released, however. The original would soon be getting a remake.
Just a few months after the launch of JoD, SEGA launched a full remake of the original NiGHTS for the PS2, exclusively in Japan in February of 2008. It featured completely remade visuals, Christmas NiGHTS, and a complete port of the Saturn original. Each copy of the game also came with a second printing of the rare NiGHTS story book. The PS2 version featured additional timed events in Christmas NiGHTS, including special summer and Halloween outfits for Claris and Elliot, and a special Halloween skin for NiGHTS. Unfortunately, the game didn’t sell particularly well, charting just over 6,000 units. The remake version of the game is also infamous for featuring somewhat slower speeds, as well as inferior (potentially 8-way directional) control instead of full analog.
This version would later become the basis for the HD remake, which as released on Xbox 360 and PS3 four years later in 2012. This remake presented NiGHTS in HD for the first time, and featured true 16:9 widescreen as opposed to the stretched 4:3 widescreen of the Saturn and PS2 games. It included all the special features of the PS2 version, as well as all the control issues. These issues would later be patched, though.
NiGHTS into Dreams… HD continues to be available for both Xbox and Steam users, and can also be played by anyone who has Game Pass or PS Now, making it far more accessible then it once was.
NiGHTS hasn’t had a single release of any sort in nine years, but as with before JoD, the character hasn’t disappeared.
NiGHTS was a playable racer in 2012’s Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed, and inspired a whole DLC level in 2013’s Sonic Lost World. NiGHTS, Reala and Wizeman all returned to Archie as part of their World’s Unite crossover event. They appeared as “buddies” in 2015’s Sonic Runners, and inspired a costume in 2017’s Sonic Forces. Elements from the games even popped up in Sonic’s 30th Anniversary Comic and orchestra just last month!
Finally, NiGHTS as a brand has recently made a return…as a slot machine in certain casinos. I can’t say I’m exactly happy about that, but it does show that someone somewhere still sees value in NiGHTS as a franchise.
With Iizuka expressing an interest in returning to NiGHTS yet again, there is yet hope that we’ll be seeing the purple dream jester again in a proper game. Until then, we’ve still got 25 years of games and legacy to remember them by.
That livestream from First4Figures that was announced last week ended earlier today, and with it we’ve got details on their new Shadow and Super Shadow resin statues, including prices. And no…they aren’t cheap!
Yuji Naka was traveling between America and Japan constantly to oversee Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s development. All that time spent in the air made him want to make a game about flight. Though the idea had its roots in 1992, it wouldn’t be until after Sonic & Knuckles’ completion in late 1994 that they were able to begin development for it on SEGA’s newly released SEGA Saturn.
Sonic Team’s primary goal with NiGHTS was to get away from Sonic. They wanted a long break from the character, and desired to create something new that “contradicted” what Sonic was. Early in development, they explored military themes, before eventually setting the game in a dream world.
NiGHTS into Dreams had various influences. Its character design pulled from circus characters, and was inspired by Cirque du Soleil’s “Mystére” show in particular, which Naka saw multiple times during his many trips to America. Sonic Team also did a lot of research into dream studies, as well as the work of psychoanalysts like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Friedrich Holtz. Jung in particular was an influence, with ideas such as his “dream archetypes” and “animus and anima” becoming central to the game. Jung’s ideas are too large for the scope of this article, but Naka does briefly touch on these elements in an interview with TRiPPY, owner of the fan site nightsintodreams.com.
NiGHTS into Dreams released in Japan on July 5, 1996, with releases following in the US on August 20 and in Europe on October 7. In the US, its release was accompanied by a $10 million advertising campaign, with the usual ads one might expect from SEGA in the 90s. Many copies of the game were sold with the SEGA Saturn 3D controller, which was developed alongside the game because Sonic Team felt the standard Saturn controller with its digital pad wasn’t accurate enough for the game. Some US copies also came with a free pillow as a pre-order bonus!
Overall, the game was a success, at least by the standards of the SEGA Saturn. It was the system’s best selling game in Japan for 1996, selling 392,000 units. In the US, it was the system’s second best selling game of all time (in terms of dollar sales), second only to Madden ’97. The game was well received by critics, and currently holds an 89% average on GameRankings. It received praise for its visuals, soundtrack, and fluid flight game play, though did receive some criticism for its graphical pop-in and not being “full 3D” like Super Mario 64.
So, we’ve gone over the game’s development and release, but the question remains for anyone unfamiliar with the game: what exactly is NiGHTS? Let’s go over that!
The title character, NiGHTS, is an androgynous being created by the game’s villain, Wizeman the Wicked. Wizeman rules the dimension known as Nightmare. He wishes to destroy Nightopia, the world of dreams, and steal the ideya (human dream energy) of dreamers in order to gather energy and open a portal to the waking world. To carry this out, he created the Nightmarens, with NiGHTS and Reala being his most powerful. But while Reala served dutifully, NiGHTS was mischievous and didn’t like taking orders or agree with Wizeman’s plans, so they rebelled. Wizeman captured NiGHTS, and imprisoned them in a structure called an ideya palace.
Notably, NiGHTS was created specifically by Sonic Team to be genderless, though he/him pronouns have historically been used. The game’s director, Takashi Iizuka, says NiGHTS’ gender is up to the player to interpret, so we’ll be using they/them for this article.
In addition to NIGHTS, the game also stars two children, Claris and Elliot. They’re having nightmares over recent real life fears, and suddenly find themselves in Nightopia, where all their ideya, save for their red ideya of courage, are stolen. This is when they meet NiGHTS, trapped inside the ideya palace. Thanks to the red ideya, which only Claris and Elliot possess, they are able to enter the ideya palace and merge with NiGHTS, freeing them for a limited time. The two children then work with NiGHTS to get their ideya back and defeat the nightmaren boss of each world.
I’ve seen people call NiGHTS everything from a platformer to a flight game, but anyone going in with those expectations will probably be confused. NIGHTS into Dreams is a essentially a side-scrolling score-attack collectathon. Each level in NiGHTS has four courses (or “mares”), each of which have an ideya to collect from something called an “ideya capture.”
To get the ideya, NiGHTS must collect 20 blue chips, fly into the ideya capture to destroy it, and then bring the ideya back to the ideya palace, which serves as the start and end of each course. Each ideya must be collected within two minutes. If the player runs out of time, NiGHTS is sent back to the ideya palace and the kid must make it back there on their own. If they are caught by the alarm egg, a large floating clock, they get a game over. Once each ideya is collected, NiGHTS then faces the level boss, which also has a two minute timer. To deal with bosses as well as smaller enemies, NiGHTS has two attacks: the drill dash and the paraloop. The drill dash sends NiGHTS drilling into enemies, while the paraloop has NiGHTS flying around an enemy and forming a “loop” with the sparkles that trail them, destroying any smaller enemies caught inside and damaging bosses.
But there’s more to this game than just gathering the ideya and killing enemies. As I said before, NiGHTS is also a score attack game. Doing the bare minimum won’t even be enough to complete the game, since players need a grade of C in all six levels to unlock the seventh level. To do that, one must understand the game’s scoring system.
Nearly everything in this game contributes to player score. Collecting blue chips, flying through rings, killing enemies, and pulling off trick combos after flying through a power ring will all get you points. You can start “links” by linking the collecting of blue chips and rings together, though you have to be fast as links are broken if NiGHTS goes a few seconds without collecting either. Destroying ideya captures quickly also nets NiGHTS a heap of points, though it is after this that the real scoring starts.
To get high scores in this game, players need to lap a course repeatedly after getting the ideya, netting every point possible until the very last second. Run out of time, and players not only lose NiGHTS, but all of their points, typically leaving them with an F grade for the course. This lends the system a certain risk/reward quality. For people like myself, this is where the game really shines.
Alongside all of this, the game also features an “a-life” system, which is essentially a precursor to chao. All of the levels in NiGHTS are populated by friendly Nightopians, who can be interacted with in limited ways. Both NiGHTS and the kids can hatch them from eggs, and NiGHTS can also hurt them with a drill dash or kill them with a paraloop. Obviously, hurting or killing them will make them fearful or angry with NiGHTS. Meanwhile, killing Nightmarens and hatching eggs will make them happy, causing them to reproduce and increase their population. Aside from giving them different behaviors, this system also changes the in-game music, which changes based on their mood. There are also some special kinds of Nightopians.
Nightopian/Nightmaren hybrids called “Mepians” can also be created when Nightmarens are knocked into Nightopians by NiGHTS. This is very hard to do on purpose, so the couple I’ve created over the years (one of which is in the above gallery) were created by accident. These Mepians will also breed, creating other Mepians as well as, eventually, King Pians (pictured above). King Pians appear purely by chance, and will construct a permanent castle within the level once created. They’ll also attack Nightmarens and any Mepians that attack Nightopians. Overall, a fairly complex system for what can effectively just be background creatures!
After its release, NiGHTS did stick around as a SEGA IP for a time. The franchise received a now-rare line of plushies, which were distributed exclusively in SEGA’s UFO Catchers, as well as a line of keychain plushies. In December of 1996, a NiGHTS story book was published exclusively in Japan, and in late 1997 the game received a six-issue series from Archie Comics featuring art from Patrick Spaziente.
The most notable NiGHTS thing to come in this period, however, was Christmas NiGHTS. Given away for free as a “sampler,” it’s probably one of the most elaborate demo discs ever made. The demo implemented a cut idea from the main game: time activated events. During most of the year, the game is just a vanilla demo of a single level, Spring Valley, but come November 26 it transforms into a Christmas-themed sequel to the original game.
Christmas NiGHTS has narrated opening and closing cutscenes, fully reskins Spring Valley into a Christmas level, introduces brand new courses in that level, and is full of presents that can be unlocked throughout the Christmas season. Everything from playable Sonic to a score attack mode to karaoke can be unlocked, as well as loads of game art and photos of merchandise. Outside of the Christmas season, it also includes winter skins for Claris and Elliot from November through to February, playable Reala on April 1, and other minor differences in the level for certain holidays.
Despite its success, Sonic Team did not immediately begin working on a sequel. Instead, they began work on another game that utilized a more advanced version of the NiGHTS engine: Burning Rangers. After finishing that game, Sonic Team would also begin developing what would eventually become Sonic Adventure. At one point, they did begin work on “Air NiGHTS,” a potential NiGHTS sequel for the Dreamcast that would have utilized motion controls, but nothing ever came of it.
Nearly two years ago, we reported that SEGA had registered a trademark for something called “Nights Dream Wheel.” We speculated that it could be a new NiGHTS game. Now, we finally know what it is, and well…we were half right!
A few weeks ago, on June 24, San Manuel Casino, which is a Highland, California casino, posted a tweet about their newest slot machine, NiGHTS Dream Wheel. The slot machine operates in one cent denominations, with a 5 cent minimum and $5 maximum. It features art and branding from the NiGHTS sequel, Journey of Dreams.
We only just learned about it while researching for this week’s 7 Days of NiGHTS articles. Certainly not what we were expecting (or hoping for) but it’s…interesting to see NiGHTS branding being utilized at all, so long after the release of the last game.
We’re running NiGHTS articles all week to celebrate its 25th anniversary, which you can read about here.
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