It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – at least in the Retro Sega Saturn Special Disc called Christmas Nights. I received this game as a kid when I purchased a gaming magazine (I can’t remember which magazine now though as this was back in the 90s).
But if you didn’t grow up in the 90s, you can still play Christmas Nights after beating the HD Remastered Nights into Dreams at least one time.
Christmas Nights is a special game that expands on the great gameplay of Nights into Dreams. Players can play as either Claris or Elliot and explore a Christmas themed rendition of the first level of Claris’ Spring Valley dream, including the battle with Gillwing at the end of the level.
Although the game is short, it has high replay value because you earn presents which will unlock additional Nights related content such as special artwork, story content, or even the ability to play additional levels, including a sonic the hedgehog/robotnik themed level.
Perhaps the best feature, is the use of the internal clock which changes the game levels depending on how close it is to Christmas. For most of the months, the game is simply “Nights Limited Edition” however, in the month prior to and the month following Christmas (November and January) the game’s title changes to “Winter Nights” and the typical bright green graphics and scenery are replaced with mountains of snow. In December, the title changers again to “Christmas Nights” and Christmas trees, Christmas presents, wreaths, bows, lights, and garland decorate the screen. The music also changes to reflect the seasons.
For those who have never played a Nights game, the gameplay consists of flying around 3d level designs, where you can go anywhere, any direction, explore, do tricks in the air, and collect orbs which you need to advance through different check points. You’re also racing against the clock (literally) if you fail to complete the level in a certain amount of time, you will fall to the ground and most complete the level on foot while running from and avoiding a giant alarm clock. (If it touches you, it’s game over).
The more tricks you do, and the faster you complete each level, the higher your score. You need to pass with I believe a C or higher to move on to the next level.
At the time of it’s original release, back in the 90s, it was a revolutionary game due to the style of gameplay floating, flying, and racing around the map.
The game itself is short on story and in fact, plops you down into the first level without a clue what’s going on. As you complete each level you will see brief bits of a very simplistic story which is a bit childlike.
You can pick Claris or Elliot, each with their own levels to play, and each with their own story. Both children are afraid of failure and it’s holding them back from accomplishing their dream. For Claris that dream is singing, and for Elliot, that dream is playing basketball. When they become Night, it gives them courage and helps them realize they can accomplish their dreams.
The story in Christmas Nights is one where Claris and Elliot are trying to find the missing star on top of the christmas tree in the town square. I also got the vibe that Clairs and Elliot are a couple now, as it depicts them holding hands in some of the scenes.
Christmas Nights is too short to have any real story, but the story that is there is presented with nice still frame animations that are quite attractive and give a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s a very cute but simple story.
While it’s mainly a demo/teaser of Nights, or meant to be enjoyed by Nights fans due to the bonus content which you unlock while playing, I think Christmas Nights could stand alone as it’s own game as well.
Overall: 55/80 69% D+ Average Game For Girls.
Concept: 10/10 for good use of internal clock, fun way to expand Nights world, and fun bonus content. Keeping in mind, this was a free game, it was intended as a “christmas gift” from sega to fans of the original Nights into Dreams.
Gameplay: 10/10 Nights and Christmas Nights both feature really fast, fun, and addictive gameplay with the ability to do tricks while flying and the free range 3d environments with lots of objects to interact with along the way.
Story: 3/10 There is a story, but it’s not great. Christmas Nights at least presents some story before dropping you into the game; but the original Nights into dreams just thrusts you into the first level right away. Clearly this is a game that focuses on Gameplay, and it doesn’t really need a story to be fun; but for gamers who like story centric games, this isn’t one of them.
Characters: 3/10 There is some character development, watching the children overcome their fears; but they’re just too childlike and too simplistic for me to identify with, and that’s true of even when I was a kid myself back in the 90s.
Graphics: 5/10 The game looks ugly now, even the High Def remastered version on Playstation Network and Xbox Live. It has not aged well. Of course, when it first came out, the graphics were amazing, but now, 20 years later, not so much. The textures especially look bad. And the bright garish color scheme (made even more gaudy in Christmas Nights) just looks tacky and trashy.
Music: 10/10 Nights does have a good sound track, and Christmas Nights use of the internal clock to christmas-ify the soundtrack is very clever.
Replay Value: 10/10 Christmas Nights has even higher replay than the original Nights into Dreams, because Christmas Nights has so many unlockable bonus items.
Overall: 55/80 69% D+ Average Game For Girls.
Note: If We don’t take into account the story and characters then this game becomes a 49/60 or 82% B- Very Good Game for Girls which more accurately reflects my enjoyment of the game.