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Video Game / NiGHTS into Dreams…

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As you wander through the nightmare world, you recall all of your exciting experiences.
You remember floating freely, smiling as you drifted through fantastic and beautiful lands.
But you also recall fleeing in terror from the nightmare master.
NiGHTS is an unfolding stage, a breathtaking adventure through fantastic and dangerous places.
Courage and skill determine the outcome of your incredible dream.
Text on the Japanese box art.

A unique game developed by Sega's Sonic Team for the Sega Saturn in 1996, NiGHTS into Dreams... is the system's Killer App and one of Sonic Team's more noteworthy attempts at breaking away from their flagship Sonic the Hedgehog series.

NiGHTS into Dreams... features a minimalist story revolving around two children, Claris and Elliot, both of whom have something troubling them. Claris is extremely nervous about her upcoming performance at a talent show, and Elliot had a nasty encounter with the local school bully. Uneasy, both children go to sleep that night and in their dreams they discover Nightopia, where they meet NiGHTS, a playful spirit that has been imprisoned by the God of Nightmares: Wizeman the Wicked.

The main objective of each level is to collect enough Blue Chips in order to recover objects known as Ideya from Wizeman's minions, the Nightmaren. Claris and Elliot can only walk on the ground and are constantly chased by an Alarm Egg, which will wake them up and end the game if it catches up to them. NiGHTS is able to dualize with one of the children; doing so will allow NiGHTS to leave the prison temporarily. NiGHTS can fly, perform complex aerial acrobatics, and drill through the air very quickly. After all the Ideya in a level have been recovered, NiGHTS will be teleported to a boss fight, and good rankings in all stages are needed to access the final boss and ending.

After the initial game's success, a demo disguised as both a spinoff and bonus disc titled Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams... was released, featuring an extensive Holiday Mode remix of the game's first level and an exclusive mini story serving as a minor epilogue for the original game. A six-issue miniseries by Archie Comics was published in 1998, and "The World of NiGHTS into Dreams..." made an appearance in the Worlds Unite crossover event, also by Archie. NiGHTS became a featured character in other Sega games, particularly crossovers with Sonic, and became somewhat infamous for having more appearances in other games than his own series.

After 11 years, a sequel to the original game was released in 2007 for the Wii, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. Unlike its predecessor, Journey of Dreams features a more traditional narrative, with a larger cast of characters and greater emphasis on world-building and character development. is a dedicated fansite that has been consistently updated with any relevant NiGHTS news since 1999. It features an extensive archive of just about everything NiGHTS-related that you can think of, including interviews with Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka.

In 2020, Yuji Naka and character designer Naoto Ohshima revealed that, as part of the new Square Enix subsidiary Balan Company, they were developing a Spiritual Successor to NiGHTS: Balan Wonderworld.

    open/close all folders 
    Main Series Games 

    Spinoffs and Crossovers 

    Notable Guest Appearances 
  • Sonic Adventure (Dreamcast, 1998; GameCube, 2003; PS3, 360, Steam (PC), 2010)note 
  • Sonic Shuffle (Dreamcast, 2000)note 
  • Sonic Adventure 2 (Dreamcast, 2001; GameCube, 2002; PS3, 360, Steam (PC), 2012)note 
  • Phantasy Star Online and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg (GameCube, 2002 and 2003)note 
  • EyeToy: Play and Sega Superstars (PS2, 2003 and 2004)note 
  • Feel the Magic: XY/XX (DS, 2004)note 
  • Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (7th Gen Consoles, 2010)note 


This video game provides examples of:

  • Acid-Trip Dimension: The boss fights from the first game take place in these.
  • Adorable Evil Minions: Nearly all of the Level 3 Nightmaren (the Mooks) resemble cute, colorful, toylike animals. Among the most adorable are Shleeps (fluffy sheep), Cuttles (small, pink-and-green squid with large eyes), Murtles (sea turtles with gemstone-like shells), and Mothpils (moths with vibrant wings and big, green eyes).
  • All-Encompassing Mantle: Jackle. Only it kind of… encompasses empty space. He also keeps his cards in there.
  • All There in the Manual: The Japanese manuals generally give much more backstory than the US version, although the latter invents the idea that Wizeman also wants to take over the real world. Additionall, there's an official Japanese storybook that gives more information on the relationship between NiGHTS and Reala.
  • Anime Hair: In the first game, Claris and Elliot have wildly-colored hair.
  • Ambiguous Gender: NiGHTS' voice and appearance are appropriately androgynous, and fanfic writers take full advantage of this. For more info, see No Biological Sex below.
  • Bag of Spilling: Every level starts with NiGHTS captured and the heroes' Ideyas (except Courage) stolen, forcing you to get them back.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: A Ranks don't unlock anything, but sure are nice to look at when selecting a level.
  • Cats Are Mean: The first game has Clawz, a boss that looks like a demonic feline. Bomamba, to an extent, since the cats are her weapons and her weakness.
  • Chasing Your Tail: Most of the bosses, and all of the flight stages has the player fight the bosses while caught in a circle.
  • Christmas Episode:
    • Christmas NiGHTS, a demo version of the game that would be affected by the Saturn's internal clock. Considered quite the collector's item nowadays, even though it was provided for free with certain magazines.
    • The Steam version's title screen will go into "Christmas NiGHTS" or "Holiday NiGHTS" mode depending on the system calendar.
  • Clown Species: Nightmarens are a race of beings created by the God of Nightmare Wizeman the Wicked to serve him and gather ideya from dreamers unfortunate enough to stumble across them. Third-Level Nightmarens are the least humanoid, resembling monstrous parodies of animals and cartoonish little men. Second-Level Nightmarens are similar to Third-Level Nightmarens but are much larger, acting as Boss Battles, their appearance ranging from animal-like (Claws, Gillwing, Girania, Chamelan, Cerebrus, and Queen Bella) to a more exaggerated toy and/or human-esque form (Jackle, Donbalon, and Bomamba), all with a clown-like, Art Nouveau design to them. First-Level Nightmarens are both the most powerful as well as the most humanoid, their appearances the most unambiguously Jester-like (NiGHTS and Reala).
  • Continuing is Painful: Running out of time during a boss fight sends the player back to the level select screen.
  • Crapsack World: Although never seen, Nightmare is implied to be this, being the inverse of Nightopia.
  • Curtains Match the Window: Claris has pink hair and eyes, while Elliot has blue hair and eyes.
  • Cutting the Knot: Gillwing, the first boss of NiGHTS into dreams... is normally defeated by repeatedly flying into its head, causing it to lose a section of its tail each time. Or you can paraloop the tip of its tail, killing it instantly.
  • Dark Reprise: The main theme from the games gets a makeover when the player gets a game over (a more melancholy song if the time runs out on a regular level, and a Last Note Nightmare when the player loses in a boss fight). The most well-known version of all is whenever the titular character fights Reala, with the refrain of these battles is a faster, minor-key reprise of "Dreams Dreams". Another instance is the first few seconds of the final boss fight in the original game.
  • Dream Land: Nightopia, the game's main setting, is visited by the main characters as they dream.
  • Dreams vs. Nightmares: Zig-zagged. Wizeman the Wicked is the leader and creator of the Nightmaren, an evil race of nightmare creatures. However, NiGHTS, the protagonist, is a Nightmaren himself, who turned against Wizeman, showing that the Nightmaren aren't all bad. However, the good dream creatures, the Nightopians, aren't really active at all in fighting Wizeman, leaving NiGHTS and the human children they team up with to do most of the work. Basically, this would be Nightmare vs. Nightmares, except NiGHTS is fighting on behalf of the good dreams.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Claris has levels that are easy to score a lot of points in, but more difficult, time-wasting bosses compared to Elliot.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: The kids in both games gain the ability to fly in the final stages. After they reunite with NiGHTS, they dualize simultaneously to engage the final battle.
  • Evil Twin: Reala has the same powers and a similar appearance to NiGHTS, but is blindly loyal to Wizeman and a true sadist.
  • Excuse Plot: All the backstory about NiGHTS, Nightopia, the Ideya, and Wizeman is mostly pushed aside during actual gameplay, which is about flying around colourful worlds and racking up tons of points. However, this might be a subversion considering how much said plot factors into the gameplay itself and the symbolism of what's going on. Most notably, the four Ideyas correspond to different aspects of the human psyche. The White Ideya represents purity, for instance, while the Blue Ideya represents intelligence as another example. The one Ideya the Nightmarens fail to steal at the beginning of each stage, the Red Ideya, embodies courage and is ultimately what allows the children to dualize with NiGHTS. It's also the major issue haunting both kids in the real world, as Elliot struggles with bullying and standing up for himself while Claris is trying to work up the nerve to perform in an important recital. The final level sees the kids use the Red Ideya to fly without dualizing with NiGHTS, symbolizing them overcoming their fears.
  • Expy: While it probably can't be considered a character, the Alarm Egg is an obstacle to the player. It's also a machine (an alarm clock) that flies and has an egg theme. This is almost certainly a shout-out to fellow SEGA character Dr. Eggman, a villain who rides around in flying egg-themed machines.
  • Flight: NiGHTS' main ability. The kids are also granted this power in the final level.
  • Fusion Dance: NiGHTS and the children work together by dualizing, granting NiGHTS certain benefits.
  • Gameplay Grading: Both NiGHTS games are largely about Scoring Points, and each time you return an Ideya to its palace, you're given a letter grade based on your performance, as well as a cumulative grade upon finishing a stage or boss. You typically unlock extra content by completing all the levels with either an A or a C rank.
  • Genre Roulette: Of the musical variety, sometimes going hand-in-hand with Genre Mashup. Musical styles used in the series often range from Pop-R&B ("Dreams Dreams"), Rock, ("E-LE-KI Sparkle") Orchestral, ("Fragmented NiGHTS" and "Know Thyself!"), New Jack Swing ("The Mantle", "Dreams Dreams: Sweet Mix In Holy Night"), Reggae ("Al-Di-Da: Peppermint Version"), Trip-Hop, Downtempo, and J-Pop.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: NiGHTS plays tennis with Reala in Sega Superstars Tennis, and the two apparently have quite a bit of fun doing so.
  • Green Hill Zone: Splash Garden, Spring Valley, Aqua Garden, and Pure Valley all take place in grassy meadows.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Elliot's bosses tend to be easier than Claris's, but his stages are harder to get good scores in.
  • Kid Hero: Claris, Elliot, Will, and Helen are all kids, but their unique Ideyas make them NiGHTS' only hope to stop Wizeman.
  • Last Note Nightmare: All of the boss fight music gradually gets more frantic before ending with the losing sound effect and a dark reprise of 'Dreams Dreams.'
  • Magical Clown: This trope is strongly prevalent due to most of the characters being dream creatures. For example, we have NiGHTS himself, a magical jester who was born from nightmares, but made a Heel–Face Turn and uses his powers to fight other nightmares. There's also Reala, NiGHTS' Evil Twin, who stayed on the dark side. Some of the bosses fall into this category as well: for example, Jackle, a clown-like Death Dealer, and Puffy, an opera singer who resembles a clown due to her big red lips and colorful costume. The sequel gives us Donbalon, a ball-like clown.
  • Monster Clown: NiGHTS itself resembles a friendly jester yet is explicitly stated to be a nightmare. Reala plays this trope much more straight, though.
  • Mirror Boss: Reala fights by attempting to trap NiGHTS in a paraloop, and must be defeated with the same strategy.
  • Morphic Resonance: During the course of the two games, NiGHTS shapeshifts into a mermaid, a sleigh, a dolphin, a Chinese style dragon, a rocket, a boat, and a roller coaster. All of the forms keeps NiGHTS's color scheme and, in a few cases, their face.
  • Multiple Endings: Claris and Elliot share the final stage, but it must be cleared with both to enable the full ending where they reunite after overcoming their personal hardships.
  • No Biological Sex: According to Yuji Naka, all of the characters from the dream world—including NiGHTS—are technically sexless, and thus their genders are up to the dreamer's interpretation.note  Despite this, these characters tend to be officially referred to with gendered pronouns in localization.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Nightmaren are child-terrorizing, soul/ideya-stealing servants of an evil deity in the clash between good and evil. NiGHTS's, Reala's, and Jackle's jester hats are reminiscent of demonic horns too.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Gillwing, a gigantic boss creature from the first game, with a ball-shaped body that's all mouth, evil eyes, and wings sprouting from his cheeks, and a long thin spike-ridged tail.
  • Pass Through the Rings: You do this to refill your dash gauge, with combos adding time on the clock — and on top of that, it's the point of a few levels.
  • Peter Pan Parody: The titular NiGHTS bears many resemblances to Peter Pan, most notably being defined by his ability to fly and the freedom it embodies. In NiGHTS: Journey into Dreams, this is much more prominent, being a carefree Trickster Archetype with the voice of a young boy (according to Word of God anyway) and the Clock Tower iconic to the game resembling the Elizabeth Tower to accent it.
  • Pinball Spin-Off: The series gets referenced in pinball tables in Sonic Adventure and Sonic Pinball Party.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Claris (pink hair and eyes) and Elliot (blue hair and eyes).
  • Playing Tennis with the Boss:
    • The Reala battles in Journey of Dreams are more or less a game of dodgeball with explosions.
  • Pre-Rendered Graphics: The opening and closing cutscenes are pre-rendered videos that show Elliot and Claris's life in the waking world. Christmas NiGHTS's cutscenes were static sketchbook-style 2D illustrations.
  • Pronoun Trouble: NiGHTS' androgyny causes a lot of people hiccups.
  • Protagonist Title: NiGHTS is the feature character of the game and the title of it.
  • Really 700 Years Old: NiGHTS and Reala are both implied to be this.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The games are made based on Jungian psychology, so they are full of archetypes and Personas as gameplay and story elements.
  • Rubbery World: Soft Museum, where everything, including the ground, is inexplicably bouncy.
  • Sampling:
    • The track "Gate of Your Dream", which plays during the character select screen, samples clips from the film Home Alone.
    • Three songs from Journey of Dreams sample the famous drum loop from the Honey Drippers' "Impeach The President": the "Sandal Wood" and "Lavender" mixes of "Al-Di-La" and the "Labyrinth Guide" mix of "Crystal Choir.
    • "Know Thyself!", "Fragmented NiGHTS", "Growing Wings" and several other themes throughout the series reuse the melody of "Dreams Dreams" in their chords.
      • Along with sampling "Dreams Dreams", "NiGHTS and Reala" also contains a snippet of Frozen Bell's theme "Take The Snow Train".
  • Scenery Porn: Totally expected, considering who made the game. What especially makes this impressive is that the Sega Saturn had major trouble running most polygonal games, and it executes this game beautifully.
  • Shadow Archetype: NiGHTS is a rare positive example in fiction, embodying the positive traits of the protagonists that they've denied and suppressed due to their problems.
  • Sir Cameos-a-Lot: There are only two NiGHTS into Dreams... games (not including remakes and ports). It doesn't stop the game from being referenced in several Sega Superstars games, Sonic Adventure, Sonic Lost World, and Sonic Runners.
  • Stealth Pun: Reala's design features greasepaint makeup similar to KISS, and he's a crazy, crazy NiGHTS.
  • Timed Mission: All of the levels are on a strict timer. If it reaches zero, the fusion is cancelled and the kid must make it back to NiGHTS while avoiding a clock-like enemy. Touching this guy results in a Game Over. Of course, in boss battles (and the final level), the timer running out equals instant failure.
  • Updated Re-release: A remake with updated graphics came out in February 2008. In Japan. An HD rerelease came out in October 2012 globally.

In the nights, dream delight
I want to see you standing there
In the nights, dream delight
I found someone who really cares.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Nights, Christmas Nights


Christmas NiGHTS

After the initial game's success, a spinoff titled Christmas NiGHTS was developed, featuring an extensive Holiday Mode remix of the game's first levels.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / HolidayMode

Media sources: