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NiGHTS is a video games series developed by SEGA starring the titular character, NiGHTS, a genderless Nightmaren who was created with the purpose to do evil, but decided to rebel against it and now fights to protect the world of dreams from the nightmarens.

The series started in 1996 with the release of NiGHTS into Dreams for the SEGA Saturn. Despite only having two games and a bonus edition, NiGHTS has become one of SEGA's most popular series with one of the biggest cult followings.

The series was created by the same creators of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, in fact, one of NiGHTS most notable aspects, is the fact it has been referred in a lot Sonic games, such as Sonic Adventure, Sonic Riders and Sonic Lost World.

Besides it's two games, NiGHTS had a cancelled Dreamcast game called Air NiGHTS, a small comic series released in 1998 and a storybook released only in Japan in 1996.

Overview

History

NiGHTS, the rebellious nightmaren and game's titular character, as they appeared in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.

When humans go to sleep, they are transported to the Night Dimension, a magical dimension divided into two types of locations, the world of dreams, known as Nightopia and the world of the nightmares, know as Nightmare.

Wizeman the Wicked, the God of Nightmare and series main antagonist as he appeared in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.

Wizeman the Wicked is the God and creator of Nightmare and all of its habitants, the Nightmarens. Wizeman created them with the purpose to destroy Nightopia and steal a type of dream energy from humans called "Ideya" when they are sleeping. Once Wizeman steals enough Ideyas, he will be able to invade and take over the real world.

Wizeman created two Nightmarens to be his most powerful creations called NiGHTS and Reala with the purpose to be his second-in-command over the other Nightmarens. But to Wizeman's surprise, while Reala stayed very loyal to him, NiGHTS decided to rebel against him.

Since then, NiGHTS has been fighting Wizeman and his minions to protect the world of dreams and humans, NiGHTS is assisted by human children, to defeat the nightmarens, NiGHTS has the power fuse with humans so he can use their red ideya to become more powerful, this type of fusion is called "dualize".

Ideyas

The five ideyas.

Ideyas are colored, crystalline orbs representing dream energy. The Nightmarens try to steal them from visitors to further their goal of destroying Nightopia and once they collect enough of them, they'll be able to invade the real world. Ideya represents the visitor's consciousness in the Night Dimension. Every dreamer possesses five of them, although they are often stolen by Nightmarens on the way to the Night Dimension.

The ideyas are the White Ideya of Purity, the Yellow Ideya of Hope, the Green Ideya of Growth, the Blue ideya of Intelligence, and the most powerful one, the Red Ideya of Courage. The red Ideya of Courage is the most powerful of the Ideyas, and due to its power, only the most powerful Nightmarens can steal it.

Nightmarens

Nightmarens are the residents of Nightmare who invade Nightopia and creations of Wizeman. They serve the purpose of stealing ideya and destroying Nightopia. They are generally evil and obedient to Wizeman, with the notable exception of NiGHTS.

The nightmarens follow a system where they are ranked as first, second or third level nightmarens:

  • The hierarchy of the nightmarens from NiGHTS into dreams according to Nightmare's level system.

    First level Nightmarens are the highest ranking nightmarens and Wizeman's strongest creations. There are only two of them: NiGHTS and Reala.
  • Second level Nightmarens are all of the bosses from both games but Reala and Wizeman. They are big and powerful monsters with many different designs and abilities who can even create their own battlefield. They are stronger and more resistent than most of the nightmarens from Nightmare, but they are not stronger than NiGHTS and Reala.
  • Third level Nightmarens are the enemies who can be found throughout the levels and are Wizeman's weakest creations. They can be easily defeated by any of NiGHTS attacks and even visitors can fight and defeat them by themselves.

Visitors

The "Visitors" (or "Dreamers") are the human protagonists from the games, they are addressed by that name by the Night Dimension residents. So far, the NiGHTS series presented four visitors (five with the Archie Comics), Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair in NiGHTS into Dreams and William "Will" Taylor and Helen Cartwright in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. All four of them are having a hard time in their lives; Claris is feeling insecure about the dreams she wants to follow, Elliot is feeling embarrassed after being bullied by older kids, Helen is feeling guilty about her behavior towards her mother and William is feeling lonely after his father leaving him due to his work. In the Archie comics, Elliot's bully and rival, Roger Wilkeah, is also a visitor. Roger is sent to the nightmare world and he joins forces with Reala to defeat NiGHTS.

One night during their sleep, the visitors are having nightmares related to their problems when monsters appear and start chasing them. The visitors run from the monsters until they reach a light which transports them to the Night dimension, where they meet NiGHTS and their journey begins. Before every level, NiGHTS is captured by the nightmarens and imprisoned in a cage. The visitors red ideyas are capable of releasing them from the cage for a limited time.

The visitors from the series:

A curious fact, is that according to the NiGHTS into Dreams Japanese Manual, Wizeman the Wicked, the series' main antagonist and God of all Nightmare, is also a visitor/human from the waking world. The manual states that Wizeman was a visitor who was deprived of any ideyas and that he was the first inteligent life in the Night Dimension. As Wizeman is trying to open a portal to the waking world, it can be assumed that he is also trapped in the Night Dimension. Why Wizeman had no ideya and how he became a God are unanswered mysteries of the series.

Nightopians

Nightopians are little fairy-like creatures who inhabit Nightopia. According to the now unavalible NiGHTS into Dreams official website, they don't have any goal other that have fun in visitor's dream worlds. They can be found in every level from both games but Twin Seeds and Bellbridge.

Nightopian Artwork from NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.

Nightopians were Sonic Team's first Announced "Artificial-life" (A-Life) and would later be the main inspiration for the creation of the Chaos from the Sonic series.

In all of the NiGHTS games, it's possible to take care of them and affect their mood. During gameplay, the Nightopians are spread throughout the levels, where they just try to find ways of having fun and reproduce by dropping eggs around.

NiGHTS behavior will affect their mood; for example, paralooping a Nightopian will kill it and make the other Nightopians around sad or scared of NiGHTS. Opening eggs or fighting Nightmarens will make them happy and they will befriend NiGHTS. In NiGHTS into Dreams, the Nightopians mood will make the level's music change. (See more about Nightopians A-Life here)

In NiGHTS Journey of Dreams, there's a feature called My Dream (also known as "Nightopian Garden"), a place where the player can take care of Nightopians in a similar way to the Chao Garden from the Sonic series.

The games also feature special types of Nightopians called Mepians and a very rare Nightopian called Super/King Pian. These Nightopians will only appear in the levels or in the Nightopian Garden if the player does specific things in the levels.

Awakers

The Alarm Egg from NiGHTS into dreams.

Awakers are neutral creatures from the Night Dimension who's purpose is to make the visitors wake up. They appear if the visitors don't dualize with NiGHTS or when the time runs out while the player is controlling NiGHTS and will start chasing them. If the Awakers catches the visitors, they will make the visitors wake up and cause a game over screen. The Awakers are invincible and the only way to make them disappear is by dualizing with NiGHTS.

In both NiGHTS into Dreams and Christmas NiGHTS, the Awaker is called Alarm Egg. It's a clock inside an eggshell with a light coming from below. When either Elliot or Claris go inside the light, they will wake up. [1]The two visitors however, can defend themselves from it by jumping over the clock which will stop it for a few seconds.

In NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams they are simply called Awakers and they are ghost like creatures who make alarm clock sounds. They pop up on William and Helen's way and if three Awakers get the visitors, they will make them wake up.

NiGHTS Gender Debate

Puffy has a very feminine appearance and is refereed to by female pronouns. However, she is confirmed to be genderless, just like NiGHTS and the rest of the residents from the Night Dimension.

The characters' gender (specially NiGHTS' gender) is a very infamous detail which has caused confusion among the community. For years, fans have questioned if NiGHTS is actually a boy or a girl, and others tried to prove NiGHTS actually belongs to a specific gender.

However, according to Yuji Naka, "Men or women, we all have dreams, so I thought that the residents in the dream world shouldn’t have a gender, rather, the form of the characters should be determined by the person who is dreaming", [2]which means that all of the residents from the Night Dimension are genderless, including NiGHTS, Reala, Nightopians and Owl. Some Night Dimension residents such as Puffy, Bomamba and Queen Bella, have a very feminine design and are referred to by female pronouns and others, such as Reala, Jackle, Donbalon and Chamelan, have a more masculine design and are referred to by male pronouns, however, they are all confirmed to be genderless. The only Night Dimension resident who isn't genderless is NiGHTS' creator, Wizeman the Wicked, as according to the NiGHTS into Dreams Japanese manual, Wizeman was originally a male human from the waking world who somehow got trapped in the Night Dimension.

Other examples:

Despite being genderless, NiGHTS has been referred to as a "he" occasionally due localization and the age of the game, even getting nicknamed "Mr. NiGHTS" a few times, such as in the comics and storybook. In 2020, the SEGA Forever youtube channel released a trivia video about NiGHTS into Dreams and referred to NiGHTS with gender neutral pronouns.[3]  However, according to Takashi Iizuka, "NiGHTS is neutral, and therefore has no gender. The impressions of the character with regards to gender are totally up to the player."[4] In other words, despite being referred to by male pronouns in the canon, it's not wrong to refer to NiGHTS by using "she" or "they" and see them as such, because NiGHTS is actually completely up to the player to interpret.

Inspirations

Carl Gustav Jung.

The works and theories of psychoanalysts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud heavily influenced in the game, the development team researched the works of the psychoanalysts Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud and Friedrich Holtz. Jung's theories of dream archetypes and theories associated with them were deeply analysed and were the inspiration for characters and more.

NiGHTS is reflective of Jung's analytical Shadow theory, Claris and Elliot were inspired by Jung's animus and anima and the Personas from NiGHTS Journey of Dreams were inspired by Jung's Persona. [5]

There's also a deleted character who would make an appearance as a boss in NiGHTS into Dreams known as Selph, who would be inspired by the Self archetype. [5]

For character's designs, the designs and performances from the circus, Cirque du Soleil, were the main inspiration for the nightmarens designs as well as NiGHTS' acrobatics skills.

Gameplay

NiGHTS is known for being a game all about flying, being even nicknamed "Sonic in the air" by IGN. Before taking control of NiGHTS, the player takes control of one of the visitors, who can explore the level by themselves and discover secrets, but only for a limited time, as if they don't dualize with NiGHTS quickly, the awakers will appear and try to make them wake up, which will result in a game over. When the visitors release NiGHTS from the cage, the player takes control of them and the level will truly begins. The levels consist of laps (known as mares). NiGHTS will have a limited time to accomplish a goal which is the same for every lap (the goals will be explained below) and once they make it, they will need to go back to where the level began to start the next lap.

NiGHTS can freely fly through the levels, collecting items, passing through rings and defeating third level nightmarens while trying to accomplish the lap's goal. They have two main attacks, the Drill Dash, where they spin and fly faster, destroying any nightmaren in the way and the paraloop, where they create a void which will suck anything by making a circle in the air. NiGHTS can also grab the enemies and either drill dash or paraloop them, these moves are called touch-dash and touch-loop respectively. They also have the ability to shapeshift, which is used in certain sections of the levels, for example, in Splash Garden, NiGHTS will turn into a mermaid during a water cave section and in Frozen Bell they will turn into a bobsled during a snow mountain section. In NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams, NiGHTS has three masks which will make them turn into a dolphin, a rocket or a dragon at any moment during the levels. These masks give NiGHTS special abilities.

Goals

  • NiGHTS into Dreams/Christmas NiGHTS: Before the levels, NiGHTS will be imprisoned in a magic blue cage called Ideya Palace. The player first controls either Elliot or Claris who are attacked by nightmarens that steal all of their ideyas but the red one and place them inside a blue Jellyfish-like capsule called Ideya Capture. The kids must dualize with NiGHTS and recover the four stolen ideyas in a limited time one by one. Each level has four laps, each lap has an ideya to recover. To accomplish that, NiGHTS must collect 20 blue chips around the lap under 120 seconds and then go inside the Ideya Capture, which will be destroyed and NiGHTS will get the ideya back. Afterwards, the player must bring the ideya to the ideya palace, so they can go to the next lap. Once all four ideyas are recovered, Wizeman will send a boss to fight NiGHTS.

    NiGHTS chasing a Goodle in Aqua Garden.

  • NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams: Before the level, Reala will imprison NiGHTS inside a golden aquarium-like cage called NiGHTS Capture and then leave. To destroy the cages, it's necessary to collect it's keys which Reala will leave with three Goodles, grinning imp-like Nightmarens that ride colorfu bird-like nightmarens. Each Goodle will keep a capsule key. Once again, the player must make one of the visitors, this time either William Taylor or Helen Cartwright, dualize with NiGHTS to release them. Then, the player will have a limited time to chase the Goodles, one by one in a different lap and bring the keys to the capture back so it can be destroyed. Once all three keys are recovered, Wizeman will send a boss to fight NiGHTS.

The games secondary goal and what they're actually about

The NiGHTS games are overall score attack/arcade like games. After accomplishing the main goal, the player doesn't need to immediatly go to the next lap. The player is supposed to spend every second to make as many points as possible, adapt to the level's environment and hazards and beat the bosses as fast as possible to double their score. As stated above NiGHTS flies freely through the sky and can pass through rings, collect blue chips and destroy third level nightmarens. If the player start doing that fast, they will make links, which will make their score higher. At the end of the levels, NiGHTS must face a boss and winning the fight, the game will multiple their score by a number from 1.0 to 2.0. The fastest the boss was defeated the highest the number will be. If the player get a 2.0, they will have their score doubled. Additionally, before dualizing with NiGHTS, the player can control the visitors and explore the level to find more collactables.

A common criticism that the NiGHTS games receive from new players and reviewers is that their arcade-like gameplay is not very explicit, in fact; some new players don't understand that the game is supposed to be a score attack game where they're supposed to master the levels and spend every second, of the available lap time, collecting as many things as possible to maximise their score. New players might benefit from watching the videos below, showing professional players mastering the levels and demonstrating how the game should be played.

Items and Collectables

See also all of the game's items and collectables as well as their purpose:

Other features

Special types of Nightopians

The Nightopian above is an example of Mepian, a Nightopian with Nightmaren parts. In this case, it has a Scaropion head.

As seen above, NiGHTS can interact with the Nightopians and change their mood. However, another thing the player can do is create Mepians, a special type of Nightopian.

When NiGHTS attacks a Nightmaren, the latter will turn into an orb and if the orb collides with a Nightopian, an egg will appear and a Nightopian with Nightmaren parts will be born.

There are many types of Mepians for a single Nightmaren. They can be born with the Nightmaren's head, body, hands/claws and more.

Clock Features
List of the Clock Features

The NiGHTS games are connected with the console's internal clock and they have special features and easter eggs such as special costumes and unique backgrounds that will only appear during specific dates.

Characters

  • NiGHTS: The main protagonist from the games, NiGHTS was created to be one of Wizeman's strongest nightmaren and to destroy the world of dreams and steal human's dream energy to his master. But they rebelled against their own creator because they didn't want to do evil. NiGHTS protects the world of dreams from the nightmarens with the help of kids who posses the powerful dream energy known as the ideya of courage.
  • Reala: The serie's secondary antagonist. Both him and NiGHTS were created to be Wizeman's strongest Nightmarens. Unlike NiGHTS, who decided to rebel, Reala is stayted completely loyal to his creator and he does everything Wizeman wants. In the first game, he simply makes an appearance as the boss from Stick Canyon. He has much more presence in the second game, where he plays with the Visitors minds and contantly goes after NiGHTS to imprison them.
  • Wizeman the Wicked: The series main antagonist. Wizeman is the god and creator of all the nightmarens including NiGHTS and Reala. His goal is to destroy the world of dreams and to steal enough human dream energy, so he will be able to come to the real world and take over it. While Wizeman's past is never mentioned in the games, the NiGHTS into Dreams japanese manual revelead that he was a human without ideyas. How he got trapped in the Night Dimension and how he became a God are unanswered mysteries from the series.
  • Visitors (also known as "Dreamers"): In every NiGHTS game, NiGHTS is assited by visitors, human children who are struggling in their lifes and went to the Night Dimension during their sleep. When the nightmarens imprison NiGHTS, the visitors use their ideyas to release them from the cage. They dualize (fuse) with NiGHTS to become a single being and to NiGHTS use their ideyas to become more powerful. In the first game, the visitors are Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair, in the second, they are William "Will" Taylor and Helen Cartwright.
  • Awakers: In both games, if the Visitors don't dualize with NiGHTS quickly, they will be chased by awakers, who are gonna make them wake up if they get the Visitors, causing a game over. In the first game, the Awaker is a clock inside an eggshell called Alarm Egg. In the second game they are just called Awakers and they ghost-like creatures who do alarm clock noises. They are neutral creatures.

Cancelled games

  • Air NiGHTS: Air NiGHTS is a game that would have gameplay revolved around using a tilt sensor in the Saturn analog pad, similar to what NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams did with the Wii remote. The Development started on the Saturn, and eventually moved to the Dreamcast. The project was cancelled, and the technology used for the control scheme was used as a prototype for the motion-sensing technology in Samba De Amigo for the Dreamcast.
  • NiGHTS - Twilight Adventure: There were rumors that if NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams had sold well enough, the game would either get ported to the Xbox360 and Ps3 or that a new game would be released for the latter consoles called NiGHTS - Twilight Adventure. The game would feature new persona masks called "Cloud", "Eagle" and "Magnet". However, the rumor came from the beginning of the game's development and more news about it never came, which means the rumor was either false or that the idea was disconsidered.[6]

Other medias

NiGHTS has other types of media besides games.

NiGHTS: Flying Through the Sky Without Wings

A mini NiGHTS storybook called NiGHTS: Flying Through the Sky Without Wings was released exclusively in Japan in 1996. The book tells a small adventure about NiGHTS and Elliot trying to stop the nightmarens from taking over Nightopia.

NiGHTS Archie Comics

In 1998 Archie Comics released a total of six NiGHTS comics. While the first three did pretty well, the last three didn't, causing the Archies to be discontinued.

NiGHTS Dream Wheel

On June 2021, a NiGHTS-themed slot machine called NiGHTS Dream Wheel was added to the San Manuel's casino.

Cameos and References in games and other medias

Full list of NiGHTS' appearances, cameos and references

Despite having only two games, the NiGHTS series has been referred in many SEGA games with the most notable references being in many Sonic games, such as the NiGHTS pinball table from Sonic Adventure and the Nightmare Zone from Sonic Lost World. NiGHTS was also referred in other types of media a few times, such as in the anime Durarara!!

Reception

Since its release, NiGHTS into Dreams has appeared on several best-game-of-all-time lists. In a January 2000 poll by Computer and Video Games, readers placed the game 15th on their "100 Greatest Games" list, directly behind Super Mario 64. IGN ranked the game as the 94th best game of all time in their "Top 100 Games" list in 2007, and in 2008, Levi Buchanan ranked it fourth in his list of the top 10 Sega Saturn games. Next Generation ranked the game 25th in its list of the "100 Greatest Games of All Time" in their September 1996 issue (i.e. one month before they actually reviewed the game, and roughly two months before it saw release outside Japan). 1UP ranked the game third in its "Top Ten Cult Classics" list. In 2014, GamesRadar listed Nights into Dreams as the best Sega Saturn game of all time, stating that the game "tapped into a new kind of platform gameplay for its era". [7]

Cult Following

Despite being a small series with only two games and a bonus edition, the NiGHTS series has one of the largest cult followings out of all the SEGA franchises which is even acknowledged by SEGA. Lynne Triplett (better known as TRiPPY), is a famous artist and NiGHTS fan among the community who was responsible for creating NiGHTSintoDreams.com along with her boyfriend, Niyazi Sonmez (better known as DiGi Valentine), a NiGHTS fan site dedicated to NiGHTS' news, facts, fanarts, fan comics and more. Lynne and Niyazi also met and interviewed the serie's creators and developers, revealing details about the game's development which were previously never known, such as official information about the deleted character Selph.

In 2010, the NiGHTS community started a campaign to make NiGHTS a playable character in Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, once it was revealed that he wouldn't be a playable character in the game. The campaign was strong enough to reach the SUMO Digital Studios and was answered by the game's producer Steve Lycett, who said that they would be considerating to make NiGHTS a DLC. Unfortunatly though, Metal Sonic was the only DLC character for the game and there were no more talk about NiGHTS. However, both NiGHTS and Reala became playable characters in the sequel, Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed in 2012.

In 2011, to celebrate the game's 15th anniversary, OverClocked ReMix (OC Remix), a community which makes remixes of video game music with composers from all over the world, made a fan album for NiGHTS into Dreams, called NiGHTS Lucid Dreaming [8]and Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka themselves were gifted with copies of the discs.

Trivia

  • NiGHTS was Sonic Team's third original series, after Sonic the Hedgehog and Ristar, NiGHTS into Dreams was the sixth game developed by Sonic Team. [9]
  • The NiGHTS series was created with the european audience in mind, to constract with the Sonic series, which was created with the american audience in mind.
    • That is the main reason as to why the characters have a british accent in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams.
  • Christmas_NiGHTS-_Sonic_into_Dreams_(Extra)

    Christmas NiGHTS- Sonic into Dreams (Extra)

    The first time Sonic was playable in a 3D game.

    Sonic the Hedgehog made his debut as a playable character in a 3D game through the NiGHTS series. There is a minigame which is only available in the SEGA Saturn version of Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams called Sonic the Hedgehog into Dreams, where the player controls Sonic through Spring Valley and he must collect the four Ideyas. The minigame also features Dr. Eggman as a boss parodying Puffy. The minigame did not return to none of the HD remasters of the game.
  • During an Interview, Yuji Naka revealed that Steven Spielberg, a famous movie director known for movies such as Jaws, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Schindler’s list, Jurassic Park and Ready Player One and also one of the co-founders of Dreamworks Studios, visited SEGA during the development of NiGHTS into Dreams and he was the first person outside of the SEGA team to play the game. He was also the first person to play with the new controller, which since then, became known as the Spielberg Controller[10]
    • Coincidently or not, Elliot shares his name with the human protagonist from E.T. the Extra Terrestrial.
  • Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, Donkey Kong and The Legend of Zelda revealed himself to be a fan of the NiGHTS series. In an interview back in the Dreamcast times, Yuji Naka once said that many fans including Miyamoto himself were curious to know if a new NiGHTS game was in development for the system.  [11]
    • Additionally, there's also a famous Miyamoto quote known among the NiGHTS community, where he says "If there is a game I would have loved to work on, it would be Nights into Dreams… [12]
  • In NiGHTS into Dreams, the characters speak in a ficctional language called Dream Language, when NiGHTS unfuses with with either Elliot or Claris, he says "Adeema" which means "Good-bye" in Dream Language and before Reala's fight, he says "Beadichinoa NiGHTS" which means "Let's go, NiGHTS".
    • New players usually think Reala says "There is no NiGHTS!" before his battle, however, Yuji Naka already deconfirmed that.
    • In the Beta version of the game, Puffy had a pre battle dialog which was most likely in dream language. It was removed in the final version of the game for unknown reasons. [13]
    • Jackle has sound files where he appears to be saying something in dream language. His theme also has whispers which could be saying something in dream language.

References

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