Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Top 50 Games - #1

1: NiGHTS into Dreams...
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Format: Saturn
Year: 1996

Well, yeah.  As Christmas NiGHTS rather gave away, Sonic Team’s masterpiece is my personal favourite game of all time.
   It’s kind of odd, actually.  As my list shows, I tend to gravitate towards big, complex games with meaty narratives and elaborately crafted worlds to explore.  So why does a basic seven-level game, where the ultimate aim is just to get a high score on each level, take top spot? 
   It’s a question of atmosphere and design.  NiGHTS is simple, but it’s expertly done.  The basic concept of “dreamy” is beautifully realised, and every corner of the game is a delight to experience.  Great-for-the-time graphics (which haven’t aged brilliantly, admittedly) and a still-stunning soundtrack combine to produce a remarkable, innocent atmosphere.  The simple but touching story that underpins the game, told in a series of dialogue-free cutscenes, helps here too.
   In the end, NiGHTS is just a wonderful game to play that forms a wonderful little window into a new world.  And that’s what you want from gaming.
MAGIC MOMENT: the full ending scene, only available once you’ve properly completed every level, which ties together the two stories and gives a gorgeous romantic ending.

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