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An Entertaining Game with a Warm-hearted Tale
With so many gamers complaining that Nintendo isn’t pushing core games on the Wii, it’s easy to overlook a title like NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams. Its pink and purple exterior is likely to turn off many a jaded gamer, but those who are less stubborn and actually give the game a chance will find a really fun game with only a few setbacks.
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NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is split up into two separate stories: Will’s Dream and Helen’s Dream. Will’s Dream revolves around a young boy named Will who loves to play soccer and shares a close bond with his father who has to leave town due to work. This affects Will greatly, and he soon begins to have nightmares.
Helen’s Dream revolves around a talented young girl with a knack for playing the violin alongside her mother. She soon begins to hang out with her friends and starts neglecting her relationship with her mom altogether. This situation soon causes Helen to start having nightmares as well.
The two children soon enter the dream world known as Nightopia, which is currently under attack at the hands of the evil Wizeman and his legion of Nightmarens. In both stories, Will and Helen must help the titular character NiGHTS stop Wizeman, and the two children eventually find one another and aid each other in saving the land of Nightopia.
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The thoughtful story in Journey of Dreams certainly paves the way for the gameplay. Because the tale revolves around dreams, it’s only fitting that the gameplay does too, and you’ll see a lot of dreamlike level design and in-game architecture. The gameplay in Journey of Dreams is split up into two parts: on-rails flying and platforming sequences.
You’ll fly through levels as NiGHTS, and these time limited sections are incredibly fun. Because this is an on-rails game, you don’t have too much freedom in controlling NiGHTS, but that doesn’t take away from the experience. You can perform loops, boosts, and other actions in midair, and you eventually gain some other attributes—such as the ability to go underwater—to reach previously inaccessible areas. It’s very easy to get lost in the game’s flying levels, and these are easily the best moments in Journey of Dreams. Locales are full of color and a nice sense of style, and being able to fly ever so gracefully through them is surreal, enjoyable, and ethereal.
You’ll also take on bosses throughout the course of the game. Most of these boss fights are fun and challenging, but there are moments that can cause frustration. Sometimes you’ll have to send a boss flying through a wall only to be met with some frustrating physics that prevent you from doing so, and you’ll accidentally send the boss flying in the wrong direction, or you’ll take damage and lose time off the clock. These moments can be overlooked for the most part, though, as the boss fights themselves are imaginative and pretty fun.
Aside from the flying sections, you’ll also do some platforming in Journey of Dreams. You’ll guide Will and Helen across different environments and do a lot of running, jumping, and climbing. These sections aren’t as great as the flying levels, but they’re not incredibly terrible as some might think. They’re just there, they're very basic, and they’re another task to get through, though there are some frustrating moments where you’ll fall to your death due to mistiming a jump.
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Journey of Dreams supports various control options. You can play through the game using the Wii Remote, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, the Wii Classic Controller, or the GameCube controller. The Classic Controller and GameCube controller are far superior to the two Wii Remote options, as you’ll find the Wii Remote functionality a bit frustrating and somewhat limited. To truly enjoy this game, you’re better off using the Classic or GameCube controllers.
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Graphics and Sound
Journey of Dreams features superb presentation. While cut-scenes feature impressive CG animation, the levels themselves sport aesthetically pleasing visuals. The rich use of color, the level design, the features you’ll see in each stage; everything bleeds with rich, artistic style, and flying through the levels is so much more enjoyable thanks to the beautiful visual design in Journey of Dreams.
The game’s sound is also very impressive. You’ll hear catchy, melodic themes throughout the levels, and despite the fact that some of them have a “Disney” quality to them, it’s hard not to appreciate the game’s compelling soundtrack. The voice acting in the game is also strong for the most part. There are more than a handful of cheesy moments in the game, but the voice acting is top-notch the majority of the time.
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Most gamers will probably get through both stories in under five hours. For two combined campaigns, this is pretty short, but Sega did manage to throw in some incentive for going back to the game. You’ll easily add time to the clock if you attempt to achieve the highest rank in each stage. There are also hidden collectibles in each level, and seeking them out will definitely take a keen eye.
There are also race and battle modes, with the former being the more entertaining of the two. To round out the package is My Dream, a sandbox feature where you can see all the different creatures you’ve collected throughout the main game. You can visit other players’ dreams through Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, have players visit your dream, and communicate by using emoticons. It’s a neat feature, and one worth playing around with, though it’s nothing extraordinary.
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NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams Overall Rating
Obviously, NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams isn’t perfect. It has a few design flaws, and its length leaves much to be desired. Still, this is a strong title worthy of any gamer’s time. Fans of the the introductory game NiGHTS into Dreams..., those who want to experience something a little different, and gamers with a love for artistically impressive games should definitely check this one out.