And the problems don’t end there. After completing the boss battle, you then have three missions to complete before a second and final boss battle. This is basically a more convoluted version of the first boss battle, and as such leaves you with a) a horrible feeling of deja vu and b) the knowledge that you’re going to have to follow an even more convoluted sequence this time around.
This isn’t good, but the really bad news is that the missions in between are a real mixed bag. The best feature Nights just doing what he/she/it does best – flying. The okay ones feature Nights performing some dull task -gathering bubbles or saving little critters, but at least they’re over fairly quickly. The worst feature the kids in the most tiresome platforming levels imaginable, where only the thought of having to repeat them should the time limit expire will spur you on to victory. I’m really hoping that one section in a mirror-maze will be the most depressing bit of game I play this year, because I honestly don’t think I could play through anything more glum and soul destroying.
So on one level Journey of Dreams shows a worrying lack of imagination and general game design finesse. On another, it just seems hopelessly patchy. The difficulty level veers all over the place; one level you’ll crack in two minutes on your first attempt, another you could be stuck on for half an hour or more. Graphically, too, it’s inconsistent. Some of the worlds show the sort of strong colour and rich imagination that used to be a Sega hallmark, but there are times when you’ll stand aghast at the drab textures, ropey models and poorly rendered scenes that Sonic Team has shuffled out there on the screen for all to see. From the team that bought us Sonic and the Secret Rings and on a machine that can produce Super Mario Galaxy and Metroid Prime: Corruption, this simply isn’t good enough.
I wanted to like this game, but even the little artificial life side-games and half-baked multiplayer mode can’t bring me round. I bought the original on Japanese import before release, and Nights is one of the few good memories I have of Sega’s whole Saturn era. But the simple fact is that Journey of Dreams is a game I’ve had to push myself to play more of when my only real impulse has been to give up. It’s one thing not to be innovative, but to release a game that’s flawed, frustrating and surprisingly lacking in polish is something else. In the end, I wish Sega had just left Nights alone – and what could be sadder for a fan after eleven plus years than that?
A long-awaited sequel that’s guaranteed to disappoint the adult fans. However, even kids will get annoyed at the many flaws and frustrations found within. Avoid.