Few video games have created a cult more devoted than that surrounding Nights Into Dreams…, a 1996 title for the Sega Saturn that, along with Super Mario 64, helped launch the era of 3-D console games. Nights’ subsequent lack of availability made it hard for those who missed the Saturn to determine whether the game deserved its rep; scarcity also boosted its mystique, helping it place high in online polls devoted to games most deserving of sequels. But when Journey of Dreams was announced, more fans responded with trepidation than joy. Some were worried that Sega’s Sonic Team development studio would pull a George Lucas and muck up a beloved property, while others were simply concerned because of the less than stellar quality of recent Sonic Team games.
Journey of Dreams faithfully re-creates the gameplay mechanics of the beloved original while updating the graphics and adding the motion controls that are a Wii staple. Once again, players steer an androgynous purple-clad harlequin (actually named Niights) who makes like Peter Pan and whisks a pair of children away on a magical journey. The complicated plot serves to string together a series of levels built around aeronautical stunts. Nights buffs have always maintained that the sensation of flight is what made the original special, and though the airborne freedom that Journey of Dreams offers is cool, it also gets old fast. The visuals and music, while lush, come across like a blurry Xerox of those in the recent Super Mario Galaxy. Though Journey of Dreams is no Phantom Menace, it’s still likely to make many gamers realize they’ve been looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.