Sega is adrift. Some days the good ship Sonic sails aimlessly toward a hazy horizon where it’s safe but greatly changed. Days like that the company delays the international release of finished retail games like Anarchy Reigns, confused periods when its unclear how to move forward. Other days Sega isn’t even that lucky, and it’s tossed about in a storm of dwindling financial success, closed offices and staff layoffs, and cancelled games. Days like that the best Sega can do is repackage some of its classics and hope for better days.
An HD remake of the Sega Saturn’s NiGHTS into dreams… is just the panacea Sega needs to get through these trying times. The company announced the remake on its official blog on Thursday. It will be out for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and PCs through Steam later this year. No word on whether Sega plans to move the game to PlayStation Vita like it did with its imminent HD re-release of Jet Set Radio.
NiGHTS is a colorful, simple, and soothing game that has you play as a harlequin flying through the dreams of children, racking up high scores by collecting sparkly objects and doing tricks, and fighting off the occasional boss. Where the Nintendo 64 had Super Mario 64 and the PlayStation had its superior version of Tomb Raider back in the mid-90s, NiGHTS was intended to be Sega’s showcase for the Saturn’s polygonal prowess. Truth is though, it was a bit too weird to overcome the stigma surrounding Sega’s little loved console.
The new version has remade versions of the classic levels wrought in HD as well as the token inclusion of achievements. There will also be a classic Saturn mode, so the retouched graphics can be turned off on the fly, a la Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
Sega bungled the last attempt to resurrect NiGHTS. Takeshi Iizuka, the designer of the original NiGHTS, made the sequel NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams for Nintendo Wii in 2007, but the game’s effervescent flying was brought low by bad controls and an abundance of ill-advised story sequences.
NiGHTS is just the sort of safe release Sega should capitalize on right now. While its internal Japanese studios haven’t made games like this for many years now, that doesn’t mean the originals aren’t still relevant. This is also one more game from the Saturn library, like Radiant Silvergun and Guardian Heroes, making it to digital download services. Despite that console’s negative reputation 15 years ago, it hosted some brilliant games. Don’t miss NiGHTS this time around and hopefully more Saturn games will get a second lease on life in Sega’s twilight years.