It's usually the custom to explain the plot of a game when you start a review, but if you know anything about NiGHTS already, you will understand if I leave that bit out.
Basically, you walk/fly around collecting things, OK?
But wow, is that an understatement or what? First of all, let's get the genre thing sorted
out. It's not a shoot 'em up, it's not a flight sim, it's not a 3D
exploration thing............it's......a......er...um.....sort of flying/racing/loop-the-loop
type of game. That's cleared that up then.
Yes you do fly, and yes it is on the rails, but because of the racing element, it seems natural to have your flight path mapped out for you. Car based racing games have a track, right? So does Nights.
For Fifty-Nine of our UK pounds, you can be the proud owner of NiGHTS and a really comfortable model Star-Trek space craft, that also cunningly functions as an analogue joypad. Playing with the analogue pad you think "What's the point?", as it seems not to have too much of an effect, but if you try the standard D-Pad mode, NiGHTS seems so much slower and cumbersome in comparison, that the NCC-1701 P really is essential. Ever play Virtua Cop without the gun? NiGHTS is the same, you need the pad!
Pretty, isn't it?
Now call me Mr.Rubbish-Gamer, but so far, I've found it to be a pretty tough game. The bosses are so unusual and devious, that you can be stuck on them for ages. The ample-chested Puffy (above right) needs to be grabbed, and physically thrown through the walls until she's crushed under some collapsing furniture. Unfortunately, I'd already read about this in another games mag, so I knew what to do. And so do you now. Sorry.
Taking the gorgeous Puffy as an example again, all the characters (good and bad) seem to have loads of voices, screams, laughs, and sound effects to cover their actions. Puffy screams and boings around the level as you chuck the spherical babe around the rooms. Also, she distorts and stretches all the time as you bounce her off the floor!
All the boss encounters take place in enclosed arenas, that probably show off NiGHTS' graphics to their absolute best. Imagine Panzer Dragoon 2 with green, red, and blue pulsating colours, fantastically detailed backgrounds with some fancy lens-flare and totally surreal creations, all loop-the-looping and spinning around you. This really is a classy looking game from start to finish.
Also, the music is really beautiful. Imagine traditional happy, chirpy Sonic-style elevator music, but given really fierce remix treatment by Goldie, Alec Reece and Portishead. Just when you want to chuck your telly through the window because that mind-numbing "dum-de-dum" tune is playing again it breaks down to a mad Drum and Bass session! Big-up Sonic team Massive!
Phew. So in summary: Good things about NiGHTS:
One more: Playstation owners can only dream about having something this innovative. Ha.
Specific to the UK version, there are some tiny borders, but they're nearly invisible and not intrusive at all. As for the levels, in true Sonic Team tradition, there's not really that many, and once you've cracked the control and played through the levels once or twice, you can whizz through the game very quickly.
Still, I suppose Sonic Team believe the old phrase "Always leave 'em wanting more."
I do. Great game. One of the first games for ages that I've been genuinely wanting to play again and again.