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