Christmas Nights into Dreams

Christmas Nights into Dreams

Perhaps the best definition of a Christmas game, Christmas Nights into Dreams was released as a promotional sampler disc during Christmas 1996 for the Sega Saturn. While labeled as a sampler disc containing only new versions of the same stage the disc itself not only came with a cool Christmas theme but a ton of bonus content that never came with the original version of the game. Honestly, it played more like a standalone game than a demo.

Christmas Nights into Dreams

The reason it was considered a sample was that it contained the first stage of Claris dream, Spring Valley and both players could play on it. If you selected Elliot you could take a different path that was only on that disc. However, the coolest part was that if you changed the Saturn’s internal clock the game looked different depending on the time you selected.

  • If it is Christmas, Santa Claus will appear.
  • If it is New Year’s Day, a message saying: “Happy New Year!” will appear.
  • If it is Valentine’s Day, some hearts will appear.
  • If it is April Fool’s Day, The player plays as Reala instead of NiGHTS.

Christmas Nights into Dreams

During the holiday season, the snow can change depending on what time you set the internal clock to.

Time             Effect

3:00 AM – Lunar eclipse

6:00 AM – Northern Lights

7:00 AM – Bright sun

9:00 AM – Crescent moons

12:00 PM – Rainbows, clouds & confetti

3:00 PM – Candy

6:00 PM – Strange stars

9:00 PM – Bright stars

12:00 AM – Hearts

Christmas Nights into Dreams

The story takes place after the original Nights and during Christmas time. Elliot & Claris are exploring the Christmas decorated city, but notice the star from the top of the Christmas tree is missing. The duo head off to Nightopia and find NiGHTS to help them retrieve the star. In the end you defeat the boss and find the star, but in the end it was all just a dream.

One of the coolest parts of the disc was depending on when you set the date, the game had the chance to load something other than Christmas Nights. Now the changes were small meaning it only effected the appearance and music of the main game, but still, pretty cool.

  • NiGHTS: Limited Edition: When played outside the winter season, the game becomes “NiGHTS: Limited Edition”. The game’s presentation (title screen, menus and in-game) is similar to that of the full version of NiGHTS into Dreams with no visual alterations.
  • Winter NiGHTS: In November and January, the game changes to “Winter NiGHTS”. Spring Valley is now covered in snow, and the entire stage is decorated with Christmas objects replacing various items and objects (ie. Ideya Captures are replaced by Christmas trees). A different soundtrack also plays. During this time, the weather will change based on the time it is played.
  • Christmas NiGHTS: The core of the game, Claris, Elliot and NiGHTS wear Santa-colored outfits, and the background music is replaced by an instrumental rendition of “Jingle Bells”. The game’s Christmas story is also enabled, as well as a Christmas-themed boss battle with Gillwing. Beating Gillwing with both characters will show the story’s ending, with credits featuring the A Cappella version of Dreams, Dreams.
  • New Year’s NiGHTS: The game becomes “New Year’s Nights” when played on New Year’s Day. The game is essentially Winter NiGHTS with a different title screen and song.

Baku Baku Animal

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

Baku Baku Animal (1996)
By: Sega Genre: Puzzle Players: 1-2 Difficulty: Medium
Featured Version: Sega Saturn First Day Score: 17,250
Also Available For: Arcade, Game Gear, Master System, PC

After the unprecedented success of Tetris, a good few companies jumped on the ‘falling block’ puzzle game genre, and one of the biggest offenders was Sega. After buying the rights to Columns, it soon snapped up Puyo Puyo too. None of these addictive games, however, was to appear on their new Saturn console, so instead Sega came up with their own game, and quite an original one it was too! The King (of somewhere) is apparently looking to hire a zookeeper to look after the animal-mad Princesses pets! The game is basically a test at a job interview. If you win, you’ll get offered the job! Like the games before it, the action takes place on a single screen, in this case divided vertically down the middle. Player one controls the action on the left side of the screen, and player two or a computer-controlled opponent controls the right. As is usually the case with games like this, the concept behind the gameplay is a simple one. Sets of two blocks drift down the screen, one after another. Pictured on each single block is either a food or an animal. All you have to do is match the food with the animal that eats it!

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

There are five different animals in the game and each will eat only his favourite food when he lands on some (monkeys eat bananas, mice eat cheese, etc), but since food blocks appear more often than the animal ones it’s best to group foods together as much as possible. This is the best way to play the game as chain reactions can occur this way resulting in not only larger scores for you, but will also see a load of random blocks dumped on your opponent’s side of the screen! This will obviously not only screw up their attempts to do the same to you, but will also push them closer to the top of the screen which results in game over. The longer the game goes on for, the faster the blocks will fall down the screen. Occasionally, a pair of coins called ‘BB Coins’ will appear in place of a food/animal block. These will make any blocks they touch, and any other blocks of the same type on that player’s play field disappear.

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot


There are two play modes to choose from in Baku Baku (plus a secret third one) – Arcade and Ranking modes. Arcade mode is the same as the arcade version as you might imagine. Here, you will challenge a series of opponents until you get to challenge the Princess. Beat her and win the game! Arcade mode is also where the two-player action is to be found. The ranking mode is for one player only, and is more or less the same as the arcade mode except your opponents carry on forever. Beat as many as you can and then receive a ranking for your playing skills such as number of attacks, number of chain reactions, and the least amount of time elapsed. Also featured is a hall of fame and a movie viewer, both accessible from the options screen where it is also possible to alter the difficulty level and increase or reduce the number of different animal types.

Baku Baku Animal - Sega - Gameplay Screenshot

As with most puzzle games of this nature, its simplicity means the technical strain on the host system is kept to a minimum. It’s a nice, colourful, happy looking game though, and features a decent rendered intro detailing the story. The animals themselves are particularly amusing when they grow bigger to eat the foods! The music and sound effects are also suitably happy and upbeat (there’s even a ‘bangin’ dance remix hidden on the disc), and that’s pretty much the case throughout the game. You know what you’re getting with games like this and, whilst there are no real surprises and the one-player mode won’t last you long, this is still one of the best games of its type. Everything about it is top quality and it’s a lot of fun, especially when challenging a friend. A novel and amusing take on the much-copied falling block game and one well-worthy of your time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GMzVGK0V5Y[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10

Mass Destruction

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Mass Destruction (1997)
By: NMS Software Genre: Shooting Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Featured Version: Sega Saturn First Day Score: 205,425
Also Available For: PlayStation, PC

The poor old Saturn had a bit of a torrid time in the UK and US but it met a little more success in Japan and it’s the titles released only there that have made the system something of a collector’s favourite. Among the most prestigious and desirable of the sexy system’s Japanese exclusives are the large number of amazing 2D shmups it was blessed with, most of which could not be fittingly represented on any other machine of their time (and yes, that includes the PlayStation – hee hee!). So, for the first game of this new Red Parsley feature focusing on the shmups released for Sega’s 2D powerhouse, I’ll very sensibly start with… one that has 3D graphics and was released in all major territories around the world!

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Worldwide release or not though, Mass Destruction has never been a game that has garnered much attention and it’s my mission to change that! Taking its cue from the multi-player, flag-capturing frolics of Return Fire, NMS’s game ditches the multi-player mode and adds a loose mission-structure instead, plus a story has been tacked-on too (although little mention is made of it in the game’s instruction book) which revolves around your attempts to bring down a ‘fanatical tyrant’ and his army known as ‘The Republican Army’. This involves a series of free-roaming missions, viewed from an angled overhead perspective where your objective, as you may have guessed from the title, is to destroy everything!

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Actually, that’s not strictly true. You do get mission targets which must be razed, but what I probably should’ve said was you can destroy anything, and let’s face it… most of us will! Yes, enemy tanks and missile launchers, all manner of buildings from houses up to skyscrapers, even trees – absolutely anything can be shot and blown up here! Regardless of whether you stick to your mission targets or go on a free-for-all, however, you’re going to need some serious hardware. Your permanent means of offence, and indeed defence, throughout the game is your tank and you get a choice of three, each with obligatory ‘scary’ names – the ‘Viper’ (average speed and armour), the ‘Cobra’ (slow but strong armour), and the ‘Cheetah’ (fast but weak armour). Near the start of the game, any of these can be used effectively, but in later missions you’ll need to choose more carefully – some missions will suit one tank much more then either of others.

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

One area that the tanks are the same, though, is in their weaponry. Each has a rotating turret and comes with a cannon and chain gun as standard, both of which have unlimited ammunition, but the other weapons only become available when you pick them up. Sometimes they’ll appear in the ruins of destroyed buildings or installations and other times they can simply be found lying around, but once you’ve obtained them you’ll have access to some much meaner and more destructive firepower. There are six others available including hi-explosive shells, mines, mortars, a flame-thrower, guided missiles and the Vortex Bomb (a smart bomb), but all have limited ammunition. Only the chain gun, mortars, or guided missiles can be used for destroying aerial targets, but the others are more than adequate to handle everything else the RA can throw at you.

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Once you’ve chosen a tank it’s time to get destroying! Your next choice is which mission you want to tackle first. There are five rows of ‘folders’ on the mission select screen (which presumably contain your orders) and you can initially select the first from any of these rows. Once you’ve chosen, a mission briefing will follow outlining your primary and secondary targets. If you forget them, there’s a radar in the bottom-left of the screen during play that will show you what’s nearby or you can access a map that will show the entire level including the location of all targets. Once you’ve finished a mission you must find the ‘extraction zone’ which is marked on the map, although to finish a mission ‘properly’ you must also find and destroy the bonus mission targets which aren’t mentioned anywhere (except probably some internet cheat sites).

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

Each mission is set over one of four different landscapes – Arctic, Desert, Suburban, and Rural. Each of these is obviously different in appearance, but more importantly each is home to some unique features. Arctic missions, for example, are the only places you’ll find nuclear reactors or airports, and Suburban missions are where tower blocks, communication sites, and military bases/camps are exclusively found. It’s not as simple as trundling in and shooting up everything, though. Each area is populated by numerous enemy vehicles (mostly other tanks) and soldiers who fire rockets and throw mortars, and their key installations are even more heavily defended as you might expect, with such armour-piercing monstrosities as rapid-fire anti-tank rocket launcher batteries. All of this pummelling does take its toll on your tank too. Each of them starts the game with a thousand armour points but luckily there are Red Cross crates dotted about here and there, one of which replenishes a hundred armour points and the other less common one replenishes five hundred.

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot 1

And that’s pretty much it! It’s not a complicated game and despite its free-roaming nature Mass Destruction is very much a shoot ’em up, albeit one with a bit more depth than most. Most of the stages here are pretty sizable and there’s also a good few secrets to uncover in them but the biggest lure of playing this game is the immense satisfaction it gives! This is of course helped by the splendid graphics and sound. There’s some nice variety between the landscapes and each is home to its own features. There’s some nice water effects too, and the sprites are pretty decent, but it’s those amazing pyrotechnics that’ll impress the most. As mentioned before, practically everything in the game can be shot and blown up, and when you do, things explode in spectacular showers of sparks and flame, and they can even be blown up twice!

Mass Destruction - Gameplay Screenshot

The music is also top-notch with a selection of electronic dance-style tracks that can be selected, or if left alone the game will cycle through them, and the sound effects are even better, particularly the agonizing screams of the soldiers if you shoot them, set them on fire, or run them over, and all the shooting and explosions are nice and bassy too. There are a few things that could’ve made this game even better such as a two-player mode, different vehicles (like Return Fire), a more in-depth mission structure, etc, but as it stands it’s still a superbly enjoyable game. The enemy AI is good (soldiers hide from you or run away if you go after them, for example) and control over the tank is flawless. All in all this game may not be very well known but in my opinion you could do a lot worse than give it a bash. It looks and sounds nice, is amazingly good fun, but above all that – who doesn’t enjoy blowing shit up?!

[youtube width=”600″ height=”480″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRUyr26wKcE[/youtube]

RKS Score: 8/10