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. The controls are separated into two distinct styles: the children and NiGHTS. 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 has been recovered, NiGHTS will be teleported to a boss fight.
The game also features a complex (for its time) Virtual Pet system known as "A-Life". Every stage is inhabited by child-like creatures called "Nightopians", which will react to your actions around them. Hatching their eggs and protecting them from hostile Nightmaren will please them and cause them to react positively when you approach. Harming or acting recklessly around them will scare them and cause them to run away from you.
NiGHTS into Dreams... was heavily inspired by the theories of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, and is well-known for its trippy (yet gorgeous) visuals, and soundtrack. NiGHTS has become a Cult Classic, and despite the low sales, is considered one of SEGA's most iconic franchises.
Christmas NiGHTS was released only a few months after the original game, during the Holiday season of 1996, also for the Sega Saturn. It features only a single level, which is just a Christmas-themed reskin of the Spring Valley level and Gillwing boss fight from the main game. Christmas NiGHTS features a plethora of bonus content, including an extensive Holiday Mode, which reacts not only to the date but also the time of day.
The original game was ported over to the PlayStation 2 in 2008. It features a few technical enhancements, Christmas NiGHTS as a game mode, and some additional bonus content. This port was never officially released outside of Japan, however it eventually served as the foundation for an HD Remake in 2012, for Steam, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
A proper sequel was released in 2007 for the Wii. Unlike its predessecor, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams features a more traditional narrative, with a larger cast of characters and greater emphasis on world-building and character development.
The NiGHTS and Sonic The Hedgehog series have always been closely intertwined with each other. Christmas NiGHTS features a tech demo that has the honor of being Sonic's first foray into 3D gameplay, predating Sonic Jam by about six months. Likewise, NiGHTS and other related characters have made numerous appearances in various Sonic games, including a few outright crossovers. In fact, it's not inaccurate to say that NiGHTS has made more appearances in Sonic's games than they have in their own.
NiGHTSintoDreams.com 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.
- Sonic Pinball Party (GBA, 2003)note
- Sonic Riders (GameCube, PS2, Xbox, PC, 2006)note
- Sonic Riders: Zero Gravity (PS2, Wii, 2008)note
- SEGA Superstars Tennis (PS2, 7th Gen Consoles, 2008)note
- Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (7th Gen Consoles, 2012)note
- Sonic Lost World (Wii U, 3DS, 2013; Steam (PC), 2015)note
- 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
- Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing (7th Gen Consoles, 2010)note
This video game series provides examples of:
- Acid-Trip Dimension: The boss fights from the first game take place in these.
- Action Girl: Helen from Journey of Dreams, especially when she rescues Will.
- 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 give much more backstory than the US versions. There's also an official storybook that gives more information on the relationship between NiGHTS and Reala.
- All Witches Have Cats: Bomamba has a whole swarm of black cats. They're the source of her magic power.
- And I Must Scream: Before the Bellbridge level in Journey of Dreams, Owl warns the visitors that being tossed into the black sea that surrounds the Hub Level would most likely strip them of their Ideya, lock their consciousness in an eternal nightmare, and put them in a coma in the waking world. When they are eventually forced into the sea by Wizeman, their will and their Red Ideya manage to spare them from this fate.
- Ambiguous Gender: NiGHTS, and fanfic writers take full advantage of this.
- As Long as There is Evil: Wizeman pulls this in the first ending of Journey of Dreams, although it's subverted in the true ending.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: How NiGHTS is characterized in Journey of Dreams.
- Bad Dreams: What the visitors in both games are trying to overcome.
- 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 lie a demonic feline. Bomamba, to an extent, since the cats are her weapons and her weakness.
- Child Popstar:
- When you achieve the incomplete ending on Journey of Dreams, whoever you got it as sings the credit music.
- Helen herself employs the trope, being a skilled violinist.
- 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.
- Clock Tower: This is the final "race" stage of Journey of Dreams, and it precedes the final boss.
- 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-esq 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).
- Continuity Nod: Elliot and Claris can be unlocked for use in the Hub Level in the sequel.
- Crapsack World: Although never seen, Nightmare is implied to be this, being the inverse of Nightopia.
- Crystal Landscape: One of Helen Cartwright's Dream Lands in Nightopia manifests as Crystal Castle, also known as the Land of Glass. As its name implies, the world and everything in it is made of a crystalline glass.
- Curtains Match the Window: Claris has pink hair and eyes, while Elliot has blue hair and eyes.
- Cutting the Knot: Gilwing, 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 an angry, fierce 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, and he wants to take over the world. However, NiGHTS, the protagonist, is a Nightmaren themself, 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.
- 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.
- Flight: NiGHTS' main ability. The kids are also granted this power in the final level.
- Foe Yay: NiGHTS and Reala, with the latter seemingly making it a point of capturing the former every other level or so (and getting up close and personal about it).
- Friendly Enemy: Sort of. NiGHTS expresses concern for Reala when the other fakes an injury in Journey of Dreams, and the two apparently chat from time to time when they're not beating the crap out of each other.
- 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 Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly. 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.
- Heroic Sacrifice: NiGHTS seemingly performs one of these to take out Wizeman for good during the true ending... only to be revealed as still alive in The Stinger.
- Hub Level: Dream Gate in Journey of Dreams is traversed to access each main level.
- Jump Scare: One takes place in Helen's opening cutscene. An image of her mother appears on a store window... Which quickly turns into a monster that shatters the window and startles both Helen and the player!
- Kid Hero: Claris, Elliot, Will and Helen are all kids, but their unique Ideyas make them NiGHTS' only hope to stop Wizeman.
- Magical Clown: This trope is strongly prevalent due to most of the characters being dream creatures. For example, we have NiGHTS him/herself, a magical jester who was born from nightmares, but made a HeelFace Turn and uses his/her 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.
- No Biological Sex: NiGHTS, being a nightmare, is genderless. Its voice and appearance are appropriately androgynous.
- Our Demons Are Different: Nightmaren are child-terrorising, soul/ideya stealing servants of an evil diety 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 their 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 young boy (according to Word of God anyway) and the Clock Tower iconic to the game resembling the Elizabeth Tower to accent it.
- Pinball Spinoff: 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Viewer Gender Confusion: Invoked whenever anyone thinks NiGHTS has a gender at all.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Reala is surprisingly absent from the ending of the second game, and the yellow Ideya is nowhere to be found. Both are averted in the true ending.
- Widget Series: A pair of games centered around flying through vivid dreamscapes as a purple jester and reclaiming children's positive traits certainly doesn't spring to mind initially when one thinks of what Sega is famous for.