NiGHTS into Sonic (Team): A Brief History of NiGHTS Cameos

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!

Sonic Adventure

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. 

Shenmue

When Ryo couldn’t find sailors, he could at least find capsule toys

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. 

Sonic Shuffle

Image from Sonic the Hedgeblog

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.

Sonic Riders

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.

Sonic Forces

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.

And so…

A few Nightmaren enemies briefly popping up at the start of IDW’s Sonic 30th Anniversary comic

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!

25 Years of NiGHTS (Part 2)

For Part 1 of this article, go here.

The Cameos

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.

The Sequel

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.

The 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.

The Legacy

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.

SEGA AGES Close To Bringing Dreamcast to Nintendo Switch

SEGA AGES has already provided us with some fantastic retro Sonic goodness on Nintendo Switch, with the original Mega Drive classic Sonic the Hedgehog available on the eShop. But, if a new Famitsu interview is any indication, it seems that developer M2 could be on the cusp of being able to deliver Dreamcast titles on the hybrid console too. Continue reading SEGA AGES Close To Bringing Dreamcast to Nintendo Switch

Naganuma Monday: Mash-Ups R What U Need

As Jet Set Radio will see its first release onto the digital marketplace in a few short days (PSN+ users, you lucky gits), this week’s Mash-Up Monday is entirely dedicated to the man responsible behind most of JSR‘s delicious soundtrack. You may also recognize his work in Sonic Rush as well!

Yes, this week, we’ll be looking into mash-ups involving the music of the one and only Hideki Naganuma! We got a total of five mash-ups to celebrate his work!

First up is a mash-up by Seenik09, comprised of Naganuma’s Teknopathic from Jet Set Radio Future and something I’m sure you all miss dearly.

Put your slam jams together for SlamnoJamthetic!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=673y8SC_4og

More after the jump!

Continue reading Naganuma Monday: Mash-Ups R What U Need

Rumour: Sonic Dreamcast Bundle Coming Soon?

The Sega Dreamcast will be getting a special Sonic-themed bundle soon, according to a listing on US retailer EBGames. You can see the pack here, which comes with a special packaging and will apparently include a blue VMU memory card and copies of Sonic Adventure and Sonic Shuffle, along with a demo for Sonic Adventure 2. Continue reading Rumour: Sonic Dreamcast Bundle Coming Soon?

TSS REVIEW: Sonic Shuffle

Sonic Shuffle, originally titled Sonic Square, was created by members of the same team that helped Nintendo develop Mario Party (hence the similarity in the two games). The game sees Sonic, Amy, Tails and Knuckles warped to a mystical land called Maginaryworld, where people’s dreams come true… if you excuse the horrible cliche. Continue reading TSS REVIEW: Sonic Shuffle

Sonic Shuffle: Change Lumina into NiGHTS

There was always something… familiar… about Sonic Shuffle protagonist and referee Lumina. Seeing her flying about in the night sky kind of reminds us of another classic Sonic Team character. Turns out our suspicions weren’t unfounded, because it looks like she moonlights as dream jester NiGHTS on the side. Continue reading Sonic Shuffle: Change Lumina into NiGHTS

Sonic Shuffle Contains Some Secret Characters

Sonic Shuffle might be getting a bit of a kicking in the US reviews, but it certainly does seem to have a lot of content packed into it. Today we’ve learned that the party game contains a number of secret characters – four, to be exact – effectively doubling the playable roster. Continue reading Sonic Shuffle Contains Some Secret Characters

Sonic Shuffle Releases in US, Gets Mixed Reviews

SEGA’s answer to Mario Party, Sonic Shuffle, has just been released in the US. We still have to wait for the game to come out in the UK, so until it does we can only look across the virtual pond and see what the opinions are like. And… well… it’s a mixed bag. Continue reading Sonic Shuffle Releases in US, Gets Mixed Reviews