1: NiGHTS into Dreams...
Developer: Sonic Team
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.