2: Christmas NiGHTS
Dveloper: Sonic Team
Well, here’s a slightly iffy inclusion (as well as a fairly large hint as to what my number one is). Should Christmas NiGHTS stand as a game on its own? It’s essentially a demo disc with extra bits. But, well, my list. My rules. And Christmas NiGHTS is magnificent and I’ve played it more than many full-sized games.
At its heart, Christmas NiGHTS is a demo of NiGHTS into Dreams..., released a few months after as a “Christmas present” (it wasn’t available in shops, rather in special console bundles, included with certain other Saturn games, or taped to the front of various official Sega magazines across the world – I got it free with Sega Saturn Magazine, which for whatever reason didn’t get it until the following Christmas). Said demo, dubbed NiGHTS: Limited Edition, consisted of the regular Spring Valley level from the main game as well as a new Spring Valley layout for the second player character, Elliot. But, you see, the Saturn was the first console (I think?) to come with an internal clock. The main game had used this for a nifty effect where a flower clock in the Splash Garden level told the actual real time, but Christmas NiGHTS would kick things up several notches. The Limited Edition moniker was just for most of the year, y’see. Come November, the game would suddenly transform into Winter NiGHTS. There was a new title screen, Claris and Elliot got warm winter clothing, and snow and a few Christmas decorations blanketed Spring Valley. Carry on into December, and you got the full Christmas NiGHTS – more new title screens, costumes, music, and full decoration of the levels in Chrimble goodies, plus a new intro and end sequence giving the whole thing a (very simple) plot. Plus, when you ended each level, you got to open your presents! A game of pairs took place, with successful matches unlocking new presents. Mainly just image galleries (which was still very nice in pre-Internet days), there was also karaoke! A fantastic gadget for remixing the main game’s music! A thing that let you inspect the feelings of Nightopians (cherub-like AI creatures with basic virtual pet leanings) that occupied each level in both Christmas and the full NiGHTS! A play-as-Sonic-the-Hedgehog mode, with its own boss! Now that’s how you do a Christmas present.
MAGIC MOMENT: just the Christmassy feeling of it all.