It’s the holidays! Time to bust out the eggnog, enjoy endless replays of your favorite Christmas songs, go shopping, and the various other things. Of course, video games like to celebrate too! In this series, we will look at games that have holiday themed levels, downloadable and/or unlockable content that is Christmas related, or the game is entirely a holiday game.
NiGHTS Into Dreams… is a game which was released on the Sega Saturn in 1996 by Sega and Sonic Team. It was created with the intention of having the player experience a feeling of flight by using the Saturn’s “3D controller”. The basic plot is that the world of dreams (Nightopia) has what are called Ideya, or dream energy, which are based on dreamers’ personalities. (yellow is hope, red is courage, blue is intelligence, green is wisdom, and white is purity) The ruler of Nightmare, Wizeman, wants to use this energy so he can take over all of the dreaming world, and eventually the waking world. He creates many creatures called Nightmaren to help with this. One of these creatures is a “Level 1” Nightmaren called NiGHTS. For some reason he rebels, and Wizeman punishes him by locking him in a Ideya Palace (which pretty much stores the energy).
Two kids in the waking world, Elliot Edwards and Claris Sinclair, have bad days (Elliot is bullied by others while playing basketball, Claris has stage fright) and replay them as nightmares when they go to sleep. they both somehow escape into Nightopia and find that they both possess the rare Red Ideya of Courage, which is the only kind Wizeman cannot steal. They release NiGHTS, who tells them about dreams, and Wizeman and his plans, and the three begin a journey to stop Wizeman and restore peace to Nightopia.
Yeah I know that sounds weird, but this game is very good. Though I could yammer on and on about how much the game is amazing, we’re here to talk about its “holiday” version, which is almost an entirely seperate game from the first one.
Sega released a “sampler” disk of NiGHTS Into Dreams titled Christmas NiGHTS in various ways around the world. For most of the year, the disk was a standard demo disk and showcased a level from the game (Spring Valley) But come certain dates using the Saturn’s internal clock, special things happened…
In November and January, the regular title screen label of “Limited Edition” is changed to “Winter Nights”, with the regular graphics replaced by white snow and various other winter themed things. Playing on New Year’s or on Valentine’s Day gives you little things as well. And playing on April Fool’s Day allows you to play as Reala, NiGHTS’s “sibling” and one of the major Nightmaren. But you don’t care about that right? You want the holiday spirit!
In December, the game changes drastically. Elliot, Claris, and NiGHTS all wear Christmas themed outfits. The background music is replaced with Jingle Bells, the boss is in Christmas garb, the levels are Christmasy, everything! December also unlocks the Christmas story of this disc, which involves the kids trying to find a missing Christmas tree star in Nightopia. After beating this version of the game with both kids, you are treated to some new music and the ending.
The best thing of all is that after you beat the stage with either kid, you get a chance to unlock “presents”, which are various NiGHTS related unlockables, such as music, pictures, and other things. A list of these include:
- A karaoke mode of the game’s song Dreams Dreams
- Time Attack and Link Attack (Links are how many rings you fly through)
- A music player. The cool thing about the regular game is that the music changes in each level based on the “A-Life” data you have (think the Chao in later Sonic games). You can test what each song sounds like depending on their moods.
- Sonic the Hedgehog Into Dreams. This unlockable allows you to play through the level as Sonic! This is actually the first time Sonic was playable in 3D, long before Sonic Adventure and before the 3D model in Sonic Jam. Because you have no time limit unlike the normal gameplay, you can explore the entire stage. It’s simular to the regular gameplay except you do not fly at all. The boss is replaced with a Robotnik battle.
So, if you have a Saturn, and can find a copy of this, sit down and play! If you are in Japan, there was a remake of NiGHTS for the PS2 which includes the Christmas unlockables (well, some of them.). Sadly, a remake was never released anywhere else, so you’ll have to hunt an old copy down. If you can however, you will be treated to a fantastic celebration of the holidays… and a great game.