Tuesday, January 29, 2008

VG Review: NiGHTS

Sega, for the Wii, rated E for Everyone (mild fantasy violence), $49.99.

Nostalgia can be a deadly trap, though we're all susceptible to it.

I, for example, have fond memories of "NiGHTS: Into Dreams," a game that came out for the Sega Saturn console way back in 1997 and has since developed a strong cult following.

So I was pretty excited when Sega released a sequel, "NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams" for the Wii. At long last, I'd get the chance to fly around as a noseless jester in a candy-colored dream world again. And using wireless motion control yet.

It only took a few minutes into the game for me to realize that, as Thomas Wolfe once wrote, you can't go home again.

In the game you play as one of two intensely bland children, Helen and Will, who "dualize" with the aforementioned flying jester NiGHTS to stop an evil villain from ruining the dream world, called Nightopia.

To that end you fly around an ornate dreamscape, zooming through rings, collecting items and avoiding enemies and obstacles along an invisible track.

That was the essence of the original NiGHTS that I loved, but not so much here. Part of the problem involves the Wii-mote controller. Move too far in any direction and you loose control of NiGHTS, making the game much more frustrating than it should be. Plugging in a standard controller is a better option.

What really sinks the game, however, is its maddening save system. Rather than save your game as you complete each stage, the game forces you to start an entire level all over again, regardless of whether you are at the final boss battle or just finished the first flight around.

Problems continue with the developers' annoying need to pad out the game with fetch quests and minigames. The horrible platforming sequences involving Will and Helen bring the game to a screeching halt and will have queasy players rushing for the bathroom.

It was at that point that I decided to put "NiGHTS" down. Hard-core gamers can feel free to chide me for not completing the game, but honestly, I'd rather not have my memories or the original game completely ruined.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2007

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