How could it have been anything else? Nights is one of my all-time favourite games, and Christmas Nights is such an adorable bite-sized snack version of it.
In Retro Game Of The Week I pull a game from my collection and write about why it’s important or interesting. Or in some cases, badly dated and rubbish.
Nights Into Dreams (generally referred to as Nights, though, so if you’re talking retro gaming and somebody says Nights, they’re talking about this game) is one of all my all-time favourite retro titles, easily in the top five. I think most people who know me well know which game holds the top position is — though they may be mystified as to why I’ve not had it as my retro game of the week just yet.
Nights Into Dreams is an interesting object lesson in how to badly market a game, however, because back in the day, it was so very often held up to be the Saturn’s answer to either Mario 64 or Crash Bandicoot.
The 3D sections with Claris and Eliot confused reviewers, I feel.
It’s neither of those games — both of which are, in their own ways, excellent — because while it takes place in a 3D world (which is I guess where all the hype and confusion came from) it’s instead a mostly on-rails score attack game with a beautiful ethereal feel and pace.
Christmas Nights Into Dreams isn’t hard. That’s not the point.
Nights Into Dreams isn’t hard to finish, for sure, though getting through everything with an S-Rank does take some work, as does investigating every nook and cranny and the game’s rather interesting evolutionary “Nightopian” system.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, doo dooby doo dee dooby doo…
It’s one of the very earliest examples of this kind of approach in any console game (maybe the earliest? Comment below if you know different), but it could totally end up getting past a lot of gamers if they weren’t paying attention.
Do a Barrel Roll! (Am I doing that dated meme right?)
And this brings me to Christmas Nights into Dreams. Christmas Nights into Dreams is an oddball promotional disc which was variously either a pack-in title for some Saturns or a magazine subscription promo OR a magazine cover disc, depending on where on the planet you happen to be.
Sometimes it’s just as much fun to go flying through a waterfall. Because you can.
It’s a single level demo, but where (even at that time) you would typically just have one small chunk of an existing game, everything is appropriately Christmas themed if you play it with the Saturn’s internal clock set to the month of December.
Side comment for retro gamers like me: Want to feel old? Fire up a Saturn where the battery backup for the clock has failed, and watch it ask if it’s still 1996. That was a long time ago.
What I love about Nights into Dreams (and Christmas Nights into Dreams as well) is that it’s just about the perfect relaxing game.
The Nightopians either celebrate Christmas… or they drink a LOT of Coke.
Games can be hard (and that can be fun), but they can also just be relaxing, go with the flow experiences.
Christmas Nights into Dreams is about the only way I can stand most ordinary Christmas music, because just firing it up is enough to get me into a smiley, peaceful place, where I can just let my brain idle as I spin, twist and solve a few dream-related dilemmas. Lovely stuff.
How to play Christmas Nights into Dreams now
While Nights into Dreams wasn’t quite the Mario 64/Crash beater that SEGA was probably hoping for, it’s certainly one of those titles that’s seen a long life outside its original Saturn setting.
The copy above is mine… and I honestly cannot recall where I got it from. I didn’t have a Saturn from launch, and I wasn’t quite working as a tech journo by the time it would have been doing the rounds in Australia, so… it’s a bit of a mystery. It’s certainly far from pristine, as you can see, and while I might like a nicer copy, it’s still totally fine to play.
Mind you, it’s not alone. Of all the games in my collection, Nights into Dreams is the one where I have, shall we say, backup options.
More than one, in fact. A quick trawl around found this… and this isn’t all of them.
Friends of mine sometimes say I have “too many copies” of Nights Into Dreams, but of course this is grammatically impossible.
In English, “too many copies” cannot come before “Nights Into Dreams”. The language just doesn’t work that way. Don’t argue with the grammar.
But what if you wanted to play Christmas Nights into Dreams? It’s actually surprisingly easy, because the game itself is easily available on Steam for PC gamers. There’s also a PS2 version (surprisingly, the one version of the game I don’t own… hmm, must do something about that). They offer upgrades visually over the Saturn version, but there are a few goodies that remain Saturn-exclusive.
But what if you wanted to own an original Saturn copy, the only way to get some of the bonus content on the Christmas Nights into Dreams disc?
Yes, this is what you think it is. SEGA used to take some interesting risks with its IP.
Sold prices on the Christmas Nights into Dreams disc are a little on the crazy side, with some copies going on eBay for $10-$20, and others reaching over $100 or more. It’s a nice little demo of the game, but I’d suggest you opt for one of the cheaper copies.
Was this useful or interesting or fun to read? I hope so! If it was (or anything I’ve written on AlexReviewsTech this year has helped you) please consider dropping a tip into the tip jar below!
And… that’s a wrap on 2023. Alex is taking a brief break (because he needs one!) and will be back in 2024 directly.