May 10, 2007 - SEGA of America offered up a brief look at NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams at its pre-E3 Day 2007 in San Francisco on Thursday. Producer Takashi Iizuka took onlookers through a slideshow presentation meant to outline his vision for the flight-action title, which is based on a now-classic SEGA Saturn effort. Iizuka-san began by explaining that NiGHTS as a franchise was inspired by dreams.
"I want to explain the concept behind the dreams and how that inspired me with the game. I want to talk about dreams, not as a fantasy world, but the dreams everybody has when they go to sleep at night. Do you realize that your dreams are a way to uplift your spirit? So, behind that -- that's really where my core research started from."
Iizuka-san said he drew inspiration from Carl Gustav Jung, whose research on dream archetypes, including the great mother, old wiseman, shadow, anima and animus, provided the foundation for the characters in the NiGHTS universe. For example, the great mother is represented by the Nightmarens in Journey of Dreams, just as the shadow is actually NiGHTS.
"When developing the game, we really went into detail and thought about what dreams meant to everybody. The real vision behind the concept of NiGHTS was to bring this fantastical dream world to life. With the creation of NiGHTS the character, this was a character that I wanted to bring to life who was in everybody's dreams. With that dream-like character, NiGHTS is a character that everybody could meet in their dreams," said the producer.
Iizuka went on to speak about NiGHTS for Wii.
"The real core of NiGHTS is an action-flight game. 11 years ago, during the development of the original nights, the core mechanic was to bring fun to the mechanic of flying the character," he said. "With the introduction of the Nintendo Wii system, we've been able to incorporate the new analog device in a brand new way. When I'm talking about the analog device, I'm not talking about the remote, but the arm of the player as a component of that analog device -- we've incorporated that with the Wii controller to bring this new flight sensation to nights."
Iizuka-san said that the game can be played with gestures using the Wii remote, but he also noted that he didn't want to alienate gamers who had come to cherish the classic title. With that in mind, players will also be able to attach the nunchuk and control NiGHTS with the analog stick in addition to effecting movement with the Wii remote.
There are seven lands that comprise the world of Nightopia and they are separated into colorfully happy and cheery flying locations and the darker, more nightmarish lands inhabited by the bosses. Although Iizuka-san would not go into detail, he did note that boss fights in NiGHTS would be very different from the norm. Rather than hitting bosses over and over to eventually destroy them, boss challenges will revolve around puzzle-like challenges. He gave an example of rolling a ballooned ball-like enemy through a series of mirage mazes.
"With the advent of the new Wii system and how graphically advanced it is, we were able to bring realism to the fantastical dream world," said Iizuka-san, speaking on behalf of Journey of Dreams graphical presentation.
He then rolled a very brief video showcasing NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams in motion. The video was designed to be a sneak peek complete with voiceover and it played like a Disney trailer. The footage spotlighted a mix of rendered and real-time snippets and overall barely whetted our appetite for the game to come. In it, NiGHTS could be seen flying through a series of circles over fantastical beach-like environments. The game appeared to run with a choppy, still unpolished framerate, which is undoubtedly why Iizuka-san spent most of the time talking about it in slides rather than showing it in motion. We gained almost no understanding of how it's played based on the footage, but the environments and enemies in the snippets were varied, colorful, and highly stylized. The camera would oftentimes shoot the action from a traditional behind-the-back view, but we noticed several scenes where the angle was pulled to the side, offering a quasi-2D view in traditional NiGHTS form.
"We're promising a brand new story and all new characters," said Iizuka-san, who hopes that Nightopia will ultimately become a place that ".. everybody will enjoy revisiting again."
NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams is set to release exclusively for Wii this fall. Iizuka-san apologized for not being able to show more, but said that SEGA would pull back the curtain on the game in greater detail in the coming months.