SEGA has revealed there is hidden bonus content in NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams that will change with every calendar month.
Evidently something rather momentous happened in 1996, because despite starring a Ribena-suited flying jester of indiscernible gender orientation on a console struggling by that stage to hold the majority's attention, NiGHTS into Dreams won enough people over that its rebirth on a Nintendo console over a decade later wasn't just greeted with interest but outright jubilation. Even you lot got excited - one reader revealing he'd actually bought the original twice, and another threatening to boycott the medium entirely if SEGA cocked it up. Well, Journey of Dreams certainly isn't a cock-up, and while it's still a bit 1996 in places where it really shouldn't be, it's much too likeable to be cast aside completely.
The premise remains simple, despite the attempts of a garrulous owl and a few dozen unremittingly dull cut-scenes to persuade you otherwise: playing as either of a pair of children sucked into a dream world and given the chance to "dualise" with the titular jester for a bit of flying around, you float along a predetermined two-dimensional path through bright, colourful 3D worlds, navigating hoops suspended in the air, hoovering up blue orbs to boost your score and chasing down birds with keys, circling various nightmaren creatures to expel them to a friendly dream garden you can visit from the level hub, and outwitting a series of boss characters who seem to be channelling a mixture of Tim Burton and CBeebies.
Having brought the game to Wii exclusively, SEGA has inevitably introduced controls that take advantage of the Wiimote's unique magic wand antics, allowing you to manoeuvre NiGHTS by directing a reticule around most of the screen and holding A, but in practice this proves quite fiddly, so it's handy that the game also supports every alternative imaginable. You can hold the Wiimote sideways and use it like an old gamepad, plug in a Nunchuk and move around with the analogue stick (wiggling the remote occasionally to perform special moves and using its face buttons for other functions), or plug in a Classic or GameCube controller and play it much as you'd expect - with the added benefit of camera control on the second analogue stick during sections where you're controlling one of the children away from the purple flying jester lunatic.
SEGA Europe has offered no comment over reports that a remake of Saturn game NiGHTS: Into Dreams is heading to PS2 early next year.
SEGA Japan has revealed that NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will be linked to the Wii Weather Channel.
SEGA has confirmed that NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will not be out in Europe before Christmas.
There are two people at Tokyo Game Show I feel sorry for. One of them is me, and the other is the NiGHTS woman on the SEGA stand. I feel sorry for me because I'm in the middle of an horrendous cold, with a soaring temperature, and after shaking my way through endless queues on the show floor my fingers are about as steady as tissue paper in a gale, and there's so much sweat on my forehead that - to borrow from Mitchell & Webb - I probably look like I'm in the midst of some sort of gritty smack battle.
SEGA has spilled news-beans that NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams will feature two-player and network support at launch, although exactly what form it will take is unconfirmed.
Of all Nintendo's various achievements, surely its most consistent is in simultaneously pissing off and delighting its faithful European customers. For twenty-five years the company has wowed us with innovative technology and wonderfully robust and inventive games, filling reservoirs of consumer goodwill in a way few other multinationals manage. In tension with this, interminable localisation delays, sloppy, bordered conversions and,- most heart-breakingly - an ever-slim line-up of releases has made it clear that Europe is literally the least of the Japanese company's global concerns.
SEGA has updated its NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams website, shedding more information on the freshly announced Wii title.
It seems our asexual hero NiGHTS will have the option of wearing persona masks to shape-shift into different forms, each granting new abilities and exploration possibilies.
The first of these is the dragon mask, capable of transforming you into a giant scaly beast immune to the powerful wind effects of the sky, followed by a dolphin mask that will let you take on the form of Flipper and venture to the depths of the ocean. Then last but not least is the rocket mask granting you supersonic speeds - a bit like Michael Jackson turning into a spaceship in Moonwalker as he attempts to rescue Annie from Joe Pesci's goons. Not that we've ever watched it.
Following weeks of speculation and yesterday's Japanese unveiling, SEGA Europe has finally owned up to NiGHTS' existence - with the Wii-exclusive sequel to the Saturn classic confirmed as due for release this autumn ("fall") in the US and winter in Europe.
Players will use the Wiimote to fly through Nightopia, gliding, spiralling and looping through seven mystical worlds according to their gestures, and coming up with various ways to confront the pesky Nightmarens.
Expect the game to take "full advantage" of the Wiimote and tell a story of "hope and courage". Don't expect to see any screenshots on the Internet not of the magazine born, though, as those "exclusives" have still to hit.
Officially, SEGA continues to evade the question of whether NiGHTS is coming to Wii, but following more mag reports last week Japanese magazine Famitsu has now "confirmed" it, with a new name, logo, and a quote from Sonic Team USA producer Takashi Iizuka.
"NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams", the mag's website says, is due out this winter for Wii. "In 1996, we created the NiGHTS character to achieve a concept of 'being refreshed from being able to fly in the sky'. 11 years later, at last, we have broken our silence. NiGHTS will now fly in a new dream world: new stages, new story, and on the new Wii platform. Please look forward to NiGHTS and friends exploring this brand new adventure," says Iizuka in comments translated by Joystiq.
SEGA is expected to unveil NiGHTS - the sequel to the 1996 Saturn title - in more detail early this month. Wink.
Rumours that NiGHTS is on its way to Nintendo Wii appear to be on the money, with Swedish magazine GameReactor revealing that the game forms the basis of its next cover story.
Optimistic NiGHTS fans have seen their hopes of a sequel dashed once again, after Sonic Heroes director Takashi Iizuka effectively withdrew a promising comment made in an interview with yankee rag Electronic Gaming Monthly.
Mr. Iizuka was the main designer on NiGHTS, and recently told EGM "I have some very strong, loyal fans out there, and I promise that as long as I'm with Sega I will create NiGHTS again... I just don't know when. There are no plans as of now. The more I hear from the fans about their love for the game, the more reasons I have to consider it as my next project."
But before anyone could get that excited, Iizuka popped up to clarify his comments. "While I would love to create a sequel to NiGHTS some time in the future, there are no plans for such a project at this time," he said, with a hint of regret (imagined by us, anyway).