I never played NiGHTS when it was originally released on the Saturn in 1996, although I did play the bonus ‘Christmas’ version. When I saw the HD PC version on sale recently I thought I’d give it a go, as it was a title I was always interested in but never got around to playing.
At its heart, NiGHTS is a score attack game. There are seven levels in all, each split into four smaller stages and each ending with a boss fight. None are very long, and you can clear the game in a couple of hours without any great difficultly. But as I said, NiGHTS is a score attack game, and the real challenge is to replay these levels and clear them with the highest score possible.
You’re graded on a A-F scale for each section of a level, and on how fast you take down the boss. An average is then taken to award an overall level score. C grades are fairly easy to obtain, but it’s when you start aiming higher that things get a bit more tricky. In terms of gameplay, NiGHTS has been described as ‘Sonic in the sky’ and that’s a solid comparison, because this is a game all about speed and precision. ‘Beating’ it isn’t at all hard, but mastering it and attaining those A ranks is where the real challenge lies.
But what of the story? Well, it’s something to do with dreams and nightmares and frankly I don’t know what the f*** is going on, but in a game like this I’m not sure it really matters. In terms of how it looks, the HD version is a nice update, although I do think they could have smoothed it out a little more. I like that the original Saturn version is included for comparison, as is the bonus Christmas level plus additional artwork/movie stuff.
The design of the levels is decent, although it can sometimes be easy to mix up a path in the background (on the next level section) with your current path, but this is something you’ll learn as you replay it. It’s certainly a unique game, especially when it comes to the world, characters and boss designs. And some of those boss fights, whilst easy to defeat, are certainly fun to play.
I struggled a little with the score for this one because NiGHTS is such a unique and interesting game to play, with some wonderful design and colourful visuals. But it’s also not quite a game I connected with personally. As someone who has never really been into score attack style games, NiGHTS doesn’t hold that much interest for me beyond a couple of replays. If, however, you love that sort of thing, then NiGHTS is definitely worth a look.