Wednesday, March 16, 2011

PAX East: NiGHTS: Journey of Dreams (Wii)

Play time: 15-20min

What Happened:
One of my favorite things about PAX East is the Console Freeplay section! You get to play any game that they have in their library for 30-40min you just have to leave your driver's license as collateral. :)

For the first game of the weekend, Issam suggested I try NiGHTS, since it seemed like something I might enjoy. I decided pretty fast that it wasn't for me :). I started the game, watched the intro cinematic, did the tutorial (clumsily), and then got maybe halfway through the first level. Then we decided it was time to move on.

Basically, you're a kid who's entered into the dream world - you meet NiGHTS who asks you to 'dualize' with her (him?) and then you control NiGHTS during actual gameplay. During gameplay you basically just fly around (on rails, we finally figured out) and go through hoops to get points. Also there are some vague bad guys that you fly around in a circle to kill. That's pretty much it.

What I Liked:

Gender choice. At the start of the game, I got to choose if I wanted to play as a boy or a girl! I'm always happy when games give me this choice, even though for the most part you're controlling NiGHTS anyway. I did get to see a super cute (very Japanese) cinematic for the girl though.

Cinematic. Since I just mentioned it anyway, the cinematic was cute! It was pretty well done.

Neat world. When it came to flying around levels, I only saw the first one, but I thought it was pretty interesting. There are a lot of fun things you can do when your game is set in a dream, and I thought their choices was very cheerful.

What I Didn't Like:

Clumsy. When I first started playing, I was completely confused and felt that the controls weren't responding as expected - finally we figured out that the lateral motion was on rails. ;) Even after figuring that out, it felt that the controls were super touchy, and overall motion was clumsy.

Lacking polish. There were just a lot of small details that stuck out as a lack of polish. For example, during EDCs, your character doesn't blink. Also during a cinematic you might be standing right next to NiGHTS, but when it ends, you've popped across the level. There are also some very visible UV seams. Also what's up with Japanese games all having aliasing?

There's a map? Haha, this one's weird, but after flying around and sort of feeling lost in the level (even though it's on rails), we noticed that there was a map. It was just sort of weird.. we'd been playing for like 15 minutes.

Character design. NiGHTS definitely had a bit of a weird character design. In particular her (his?) backside was a little odd.

Water treatment. In game, you are instructed that you cannot fly into the water as NiGHTS - so of course the next move after hearing this was to try flying into it! The result was a headfirst collision into the solid surface of the water. This is really just another polish thing, but it definitely came off as pretty cheap - there's no reaction from the surface of the water, and NiGHTS just sticks to it. :)

Barriers. Similar to the water thing, there are sections where you can see rings above you, but not fly to them because of invisible barriers. I think that they could have changed the level layout to avoid running into this issue. It definitely breaks the illusion of flight.

How Do I Feel About Continuing?:
No thanks. :) I think it's a pretty game, but it was definitely clumsy and got boring pretty fast.

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