This is a reblog of my site http://geekysweetie.com – Other stuff may appear here such as reblogs from other wordpress.com sites. I blog and reblog about anime, video games, kdrama, toys, technology, and kawaii fashion and decor.
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.
There is a special Love is Over edition that included a pillow case, men’s boxers, a pizza box, tshirt, and some other goodies. I have this version and took some pictures when I got it a few years ago at release.
There’s also special box art for the 360 version, but I don’t have that, it is however, available, as well as the Love is Over edition, via the Amazon links above. The standard edition of the game costs about $12. And for PS3 you can also get the digital version. The limited edition will cost about $95.
Concept 10/10: The concept of Catherine is quite unique. The gameplay is a bit like Qbert in a way while in Vincent’s nightmares. You see, Vince is having bad dreams because he is worried about being caught cheating on his long-time girlfriend, Katherine with a K, with his hot new heartthrob, Catherine with a C. He’s so scared of being caught that every night he sees strange demons trying to eat him in his sleep. He must climb an endless tower, where the screen moves from the bottom up, while avoiding monsters and obstacles, and racing against a clock to make it to the exit of each dream. When not dreaming, Vince meets with the girls and his other friends in a local bar where the gameplay is very similar to a visual novel. You watch numerous cutscenes and choose the “correct” answer to get different endings ultimately within the game. There are numerous endings, including, good, bad, and true endings for each girl, and good, and true endings for Vince being single as well. So it’s a total of 8 different endings. The entire game is cel-shaded, in a way that’s never been done, before or since, at least not in any game that ever found it’s way to this side of the world. It’s so beautiful. It’s like watching an interactive anime. (actually school days may be similar now that I think about it; but Catherine’s art is higher quality.)
I covered a lot of the other aspects of the game which I’m reviewing below here in the concept above, but I feel like all of these elements make Catherine, what it is, and are what make it such a unique and awesome gaming experience and therefore, they’re all part of the “concept” of the game.
Gameplay 10/10: As mentioned above, the gameplay is really two fold. In his waking hours, Vincent interacts with the girls and his friends in visual novel fashion. When Vince returns home and falls asleep, the gameplay switches into a sort of Qbert style, climbing and jumping from blocks, which fall, as the screen moves and you race against the clock, grabbing power ups, and avoiding monsters and obstacles along the way. There’s also a number of interesting minigames and sidequests available back in the bar as well.
There are numerous difficulty settings in the game, including one hidden “Very Easy” mode which you can access by holding down select on the main screen until you hear a ding sound go off. You can then select Easy mode which will now become Very Easy. In this mode, more powerups appear, and the nightmare modes are all the same as easy. You can also climb 3 blocks at a time with special power drinks. This allows you to play the game more like a visual novel, by (practically) skipping all the puzzles in the game. I think this version is great for your second, third, etc playthrough, but kinda kills the fun of the game if this is your first playthrough. Part of the fun of the game is the difficult puzzles which await you in Vincent’s dreams. If you want a challenge, you can also decide to play the game on Nightmare mode. Different achievements are also available for different difficulty levels. But the story is the same regardless, so if you ONLY want to see the different stories/endings and enjoy the game in a relaxing way, feel free to pick an easier difficulty setting.
Graphics: 10/10 The majority of the graphics are all real-time 3d cell shaded anime style. I think there may be some anime cutscenes mixed in too; but the cell shaded 3d models are so good that it’s hard to tell sometimes which ones are 3d and which ones are 2d (if any). The graphics are truly unique and a sight to behold. They are vibrant, colorful, and look like a real anime. I’ve never seen a game with this style before. Check out these screenshots below as you continue to read the review.
Story: 10/10 Vince has a long time girlfriend, Katherine. Katherine wants Vince to get married, but Vince is too immature for such a big commitment. While struggling with both his feelings of love and feelings of fear, Vince meets Catherine, a girl who walks into his life unexpectedly and begins to have a week long affair with her. Tormented by feelings of guilt towards his longtime girlfriend, Katherine, Vincent begins to have nightmares each and every single night in which demons are chasing him. What unfolds next is a deadly love triangle. Can Vincent keep his affair a secret? Can he make the girls happy? And can he keep his own conscious from eating away at him?
Characters: 10/10 One of the really cool things about Catherine’s story is that it does not try to impose a “right” way to play onto you. None of the characters are perfect, not Vince, nor Catherine, nor Katherine. They all have flaws, they’re all equally to blame for any relationship problems within the course of the game; but they all have endearing qualities as well. Vince himself is feeling pressured to marry his long time girlfriend Katherine. Vince doesn’t really want to get married, but he realizes that if he doesn’t marry her, she will break up with him. Katherine is a VERY strong woman, and perhaps more woman than Vince can handle. She is very demanding in the relationship and she isn’t above lying or manipulating Vince to play on his emotions to make him more sympathetic to her and try to rush him into a marriage that he isn’t even sure he wants. Around this same time, Vince suddenly meets Catherine, a girl who only wants a no-strings-attached sexual relationship. She makes Vince feel alive, and young, and free, and all of the qualities that Katherine lacks, Catherine has in spades. However, when it comes to love, and a real lasting relationship, Catherine is too immature; she’s like Vince; she isn’t ready for all of that, and as the game progresses, Vince realizes that Katherine’s stability and commitment to him is something unique and special that Catherine can never offer him. (and for good reason too, but I won’t spoil that). There are basically, 3 routes you can take. Go back and beg Katherine for forgiveness, turn your back on her and continue down the path of sin and lust with Catherine, or tell both girls to go F*** themselves and realize your own dreams and ambitions which is perhaps the best feeling of all. However, the game never makes you feel like one ending or choice is better than the others. They both have pluses and minuses. They aren’t “right or wrong” they’re just different choices. That’s all. I also really like the artwork for the characters, Vince’s hair style is so cute. I want to play with it. It looks fluffy! lol. And both of the girls are ridiculously beautiful. Catherine is so cute, youthful, sexy, flirty, etc; while Katherine exudes maturity, calmness, intelligence, and a sort of refined elegance which is also sexy in it’s own right.
Music: 10/10 The music in this game is composed by Shoji Meguro and is often compared to the soundtracks of Persona 3 and Persona 4. Atlus USA released a version of this soundtrack with their Love is Over limited edition release (pictured above). You can listen to the soundtrack on youtube below:
This is the full soundtrack which is DIFFERENT from the one that Atlus USA included in their special edition. The soundtrack included in Love is Over, only has 11 songs, which are the levels in Vince’s nightmares. It does not include the cutscene music and other tracks. However, the link above, via Amazon will include all of these awesome tracks for you.
Voice Acting: 7/10 My review is for the English dub voice cast. I thought they were fairly good actually for a dub. There were times where I felt they were overacting a tad. But it wasn’t distracting. Catherine has a cute, peppy sugary sweet voice; while Katherine is more quiet and refined, both of which fit their characters perfectly. Vince has kinda a dopey goofy voice, which I guess fits his character. I haven’t watched the japanese voice actors on youtube. I dunno if they are better, my guess would be yes. lol. It’s not that I hate the english cast though. I find it to be better than the Persona dub (which isn’t horrible either). (It may even have some of the same actors. I don’t follow the English voice acting “scene” so I wouldn’t know.) Their performances are all very convincing. Vince has a goofy scream sometimes, but it’s supposed to convey his fear (of himself/his conscious/his actions) and I think it does convey a lot of stress and emotion.
Replay Value: 10/10 The 7 different endings force you to play multiple times to see the entire story. You can skip cutscenes you’ve seen already, and you can also use the cheat above to get a “Very Easy” gameplay mode to make your multiple replays fast and as pain free as possible so you can just enjoy the story. The endings and the plot are very different, not just small differences, but very unique. This makes it a very rewarding game on multiple playthroughs. If you like achievements there are different ones which are specific to different difficulty settings which you will have to play to unlock them all.
Overall: 86/90 96% A “Excellent Game For Girls”
In fact, the Mature rating, horror, gore, and sexual themes, make it a great game for guys too 🙂 Maybe a good way to introduce your guy friends to anime or visual novels.
Story: 2/10 The story in Katamari is really silly and crazy (as is much of the game itself). It follows a prince whose father has accidentally destroyed the universe and you find yourself in the role of said, young prince, ordered by your father, to go “roll up” the planets to put them back into the sky; meanwhile your actions are also impacting a human family back on earth whose father is an astronaut who’s unable to travel to the moon due to the king of the universe destroying the cosmos. The story is often told with still images, or silent clips and movies, and really plays a huge backseat compared to the gameplay. The fact is, story is not this game’s strong suit, but it doesn’t NEED to be, because the gameplay stands alone.
Gameplay: 10/10 The gameplay in Katamari is what it’s all about! This game is CRAZY fun and addictive! It’s easily one of my favorite games of all time based solely on gameplay alone. The concept is simple but yet challenging and incredibly fun. You start off as a very small creature given a magic ball with the power to “roll up” any objects which are smaller in diameter than it; you start “rolling up” small objects such as paperclips, buttons, etc; and grow bigger, and as you grow bigger the objects that were obstacles for you before, now get rolled up when you come into contact with them, cars, people, animals, entire buildings, everything in the environment is interactive. If however, you bump into something larger than your current ball, it will break a few pieces of your ball, making you smaller. You are under intense time limits and have to have mad skills to race around the map rolling up as many objects as possible before the time is up while avoiding obstacles which would take away from your mass. You also can rollup “cousins” (other characters to play as), and presents on each level; which give reason to replay some levels to get 100% of the goodies.
Concept: 10/10 As weird, crazy, silly, and possibly drug induced, as this game is, it’s still delightful. At the time of its debut it was a revolutionary, one of a kind, masterpiece that quickly became classic due to its unique concept and fun and addictive gameplay. You do have to wonder what these creators were thinking though. They have some fantastic imaginations, that’s for sure!
Characters: 5/10 Character development is not this game’s strong suit, none of the characters have much history, back story, lore, personality, etc and none of the characters really mature or evolve throughout the game. The characters however ARE all very unique and cute/funny, although not very deep or relatable.
Graphics: 8/10 I love the cute, colorful, “sugary sweet” art style of this series of games. However, the polygons are rather simplistic, and the graphics look a bit dated even for their time back then; but I still rate it highly, especially when looking at it from the prospective of my target audience (young female gamers) I think they will love the colorful and zany level designs in this game.
Music: 10/10 The music is one of my favorite parts of this game; and one of my favorite soundtracks of any game. I had the theme song for years as my ring tone 🙂 The track is memorable and distinctive to this series; and it puts me in a happy “peppy” mood and fits the mood of the game perfectly.
I want to stress that this game is “better than a 76” but due to my scoring system I cannot overlook the fact that it essentially has no story or character development; however it’s one of those games that doesn’t really need one! If you ignore those two score marks, then it becomes 56/60 or 93%!! That probably more accurately reflects my own opinion regarding my enjoyment of the game and how much I’d be willing to recommend this game to anyone; but my readers expect story-centric games, and this falls short in that area so I had to give it a more objective review.