Differences Between PS2 and Saturn

Below are a number of differences between the Sony PS2 version from 2008 and the Sega Saturn version from 1996. For the PS2 version there is no difference in gameplay when you compare the “Brand New Dream” and “Sega Saturn Dream” so they are both considered the PS2 version throughout this comparison.

1) Controls and Mechanics
2) Dream Specifics
3) Bosses
4) Glitches
5) Missing Features
6) Music
7) Enhancements

1) Controls and Mechanics

  • The speed of NiGHTS seems slightly slower and the flow doesn’t feel the same when speed is increasing or decreasing. This makes certain links near impossible and the number of laps per mare is also reduced. It’s noticeable when you are either dashing or coasting, and it feels odd when you let off the dash as it increases your speed for a second, which doesn’t make sense. In general the dash feels like it could be a little faster and you should maintain your speed longer while coasting.
  • Links seem to time out faster and losing your link is most noticeable in Mystic Forest Mare 1 when you try to connect the infinite link going over the ideya palace. This link is almost impossible on the PS2 and is a good benchmark to use. There are more examples mentioned later in the Dream Specifics section.
  • The height of double/triple jumps can no longer be controlled as it’s automatically 100% instead of controlled by the time you hold the jump button. On the Saturn you could due a bunch of little successive jumps which would increase the speed and distance traveled, but this is no longer possible.
  • The airbrake when pressing L+R is different as you have to hold the buttons down for a while before it happens. They were used in the Saturn version as a way to do Air Brake Paraloops, which were fast and tight paraloops, but it cannot be done on the PS2 version as it stops you differently.
  • Link balls are a lot harder to collect, seemingly because the link balls are smaller and you have to be more precise in hitting them. It was definitely easier on the Saturn.
  • Dash panels are not effective as they only give you a short boost of speed and then you speed is not maintained as it decreases immediately. NiGHTS seems to slow down too quickly and does not coast at the increased speed. A good point of reference or benchmark for the dash panel is the horizontal paraloop you could achieve around the big tree at the end of Spring Valley Mare 2. This is not achievable on the PS2 but it is achievable on the Saturn. You could also get different speeds through the dash panels depending on how accurate your entry was, but the PS2 seems to have the same speed regardless of where you hit it.
  • Ideya captures seem to float around to different heights and you can actually miss them because they’ve changed positions. They moved around less in the Saturn version or would return to their original position more quickly. Many times they go straight up to the ceiling and won’t come back down even if you are waiting underneath them.
  • Some nightmaren seem to be more aggressive or have different artificial intelligence. Hollow, the purple flying nightmaren in SV, will shoot a ball at you at a speed that is much faster and it will almost always hit you. In the Saturn version you would rarely get hit because it wasn’t as fast or accurate. The nightmaren on the Saturn seemed to have a different attraction, one that was more gradual or subtle, moving closer each lap, but on the PS2 they seem to move around more and will appear in places they never used to.
  • The re-spawning of chips and rings happens when you enter the ideya capture, but on the Saturn they would only respawn after a complete lap. For example, on the PS2 if you complete a full lap on Mystic Forest Mare 2, then head to the left of the ideya capture to collect the 3 chips again and enter the ideya capture, the 3 chips will reappear on Mare 3. On the Saturn they would not re-spawn because you didn’t complete a full lap (forward or reverse). I’m not sure if this was a glitch on the Saturn or if they purposely wanted you to complete a full lap.
  • If you try to fly against a ceiling with your belly or against a floor with your back NiGHTS will get stuck on the surface and struggle to fly in the opposite direction. On the Saturn you would fly smoothly on the ceiling or floor and your body would just flip around. There seemed to be a lot less friction on the Saturn, which was helpful when paralooping chips and rings near ceilings/floors and doing the stunt ribbon glitch.
  • There appears to be no time limit set for the kids. On the Saturn you would get an automatic Night Over around 15 minutes. The alarm clock was also much more aggressive on the Saturn at 15 minutes.

2) Dream Specifics

  • Spring Valley: The 28 link in Mare 1 is harder as the link times out faster or your speed is slower than it used to be. It’s easy to lose the link when you have to get the 2 chips. Strangely, it’s easier to get the link if you stop dashing before the chips because you will get a little boost. Within Mare 2 the wind gusts don’t feel the same, but it may be related to NiGHTS being slower when you are coasting and not dashing. It’s easy to lose your link here if you coast through the wind gusts, but that is how you would do it on the Saturn. In Mare 3 the large paraloop around the big tree is no longer achievable due to the slower speed of NiGHTS and dash panels. This is probably the best benchmark to use to make sure the speed of NiGHTS and the dash panels are correct.
  • Mystic Forest: The infinite link in Mare 1 is almost impossible as it is difficult to connect the link before and after the ideya palace. Again, it is likely related to the links timing out faster or flying slower. In Mare 2 it is difficult to loop the 4 stars and 7 hidden chips because you hit the ceiling with your belly and NiGHTS struggles to go in a different direction. The overhead section in Mare 4 feels very slow when you are coasting instead of dashing, making it difficult to perform the 40-50 link in that section. It’s also difficult to do tight paraloops in the overhead section as they always seem to be a large radius.
  • Soft Museum: The infinite link in Mare 1 is more difficult when connecting the stars before the ideya palace and the rings near the ideya capture. Doing the spins in the Museum on Mares 2 and 4 seems to be a bit slower but it may be due to the PS2 controller not being as good. On the Saturn you could pull off 6 spins in one jump with the use of a good D-Pad but it’s hard to even get 5 spins on the PS2. The Saturn also seemed a little more lenient when it came to doing a bad bounce. Typically if you held the up button when you bounced you would be ok, but on the PS2 it seems to be based on the animation and if your feet hit the ground. In Mare 3 when you are behind NiGHTS you bounce off a number of walls, but the bounce isn’t quite the same and goes on a downward curve instead of being straight. You can actually miss the link ball if you dash between these bouncy walls.
  • Splash Garden: The Mare 1 infinite link is still possible although it is harder due to the shorter time between links. The link ball is also easy to miss due to it’s smaller size. During Mare 2 it’s possible to get the 28 link towards the end of the lap, but you will often lose the link going horizontally through the water bubble and then vertically. The water bubbles seem to shoot you out more slowly or they shoot you out at different angles than they did on the Saturn (the shorter time between links also makes it harder). On Mare 3 the water bubble difference is most noticeable when you try to get the link ball by going straight through. On the Saturn it was very easy to go through all of the water bubbles straight, but on the PS2 you gradually go on more and more of a diagonal angle to the point where you are almost vertical, missing the chips and losing your link ball. The overhead section with the clock also feels very slow, just like the overhead section in Mystic Forest. At the start of Mare 4 it is really difficult to paraloop the 10 off-screen chips near the ideya palace. This was the only way to open the ideya capture on your first lap before entering the water and it would allow you to get an extra lap in. It may be more difficult because the paraloops are no longer as large as they were on the Saturn (from a z-depth perspective).
  • Frozen Bell: When collecting chips as Elliot there are some trees in the corner of the map, near where you start, and it looks as if they give out chips but they disappear into the ground before you get them, so it seems to be a new glitch. The moving train is really difficult to stand on, although it was never easy on the Saturn either. The Mare 1 infinite link is still possible, however it is easier to lose due to the shorter time between links. You can no longer carry two link balls at a time during Mare 2 because the first one will disappear as soon as you collect the second one. In Mare 3 you used to be able to do large paraloops in the snowball section to get 50+ links and it doesn’t seem possible anymore, maybe because it’s more difficult to collect the off-screen stars and chips that are in the ladder section of Mare 2. Also when you dash through a snowball you appear to collect the star right away instead of leaving it behind to be collected later. In Mare 4 you can no longer continue your link when going through the dash panels and into the rings near the ideya capture. The toboggan run controls a bit differently when moving left and right, and the snow dust is a nice effect but it does make it harder to see what’s going on. The draw distance could be better as it’s hard to see the chips and stars that are coming up. Also, you can now continue your link off the jumps and into the snowballs, but you couldn’t do this on the Saturn. When you first start the toboggan run, if you land on the dash panel it throws you towards the top of the tunnel so that you cannot collect the chips, but you could get them more easily on the Saturn.
  • Stick Canyon: The Mare 1 infinite and reverse infinite links are still possible, however they are much more difficult and easy to lose due to the shorter time between links. In Mare 2 the magnetized base that shoots you up also seems to act a bit differently than the Saturn version. It has less of a pull if you try to collect the chips in it’s field, and if you press down and let it shoot you up you will maintain your speed, but if you press left or right you will come to a halt and not maintain speed. The 30+ link at the start of Mare 2 is also near impossible as you lose the link in a couple of spots due to the shorter time between links. In Mare 3 when you become magnetized it’s actually difficult to lose the items when bumping into the floor or a wall, but it’s really easy to lose them on the Saturn. In Mare 4 the roller coaster ride is more difficult to control as you slide around from side to side too much, making it hard to collect the items.
  • Twin Seeds: In Mare 1 it isn’t possible to link the stars around the dash panels with the yellow rings because the links time out faster or you are flying slightly slower. Although it’s still possible in Mares 2 and 3 to do “star milking”, which was hitting the switch to make the stars fall, and then hitting the switch a second time to get even more stars during the same link, it seems like the stars will disappear as soon as they are off-screen. The link ball in Mare 3 is also really difficult to get as you cannot continue the link between the rings and the stars. When flying in reverse on Mare 3 the tower will just appear in the background so it would be nice if the draw distance was larger or if there was some fog to make it more subtle as it appears.

3) Bosses

  • Gillwing appears to be harder as it used to be easy to paraloop the back of his tail and get an immediate kill. Maybe it has something to do with the size of the paraloops or the part of the tail that you need to attack. Gillwing also starts out with an immediate dive which he didn’t do in Saturn if you flew immediately to the right.
  • Puffy is generally the same but the camera angles can be a bit frustrating when you grab onto her. The camera will more often look behind you than in front of you so it makes it difficult to know when to release her. Interestingly the doors still open at the end of the battle sometimes, which happened on the Saturn, but no one really understood why.
  • Gulpo might not follow the same path that he used to on the Saturn. At times it seems like he follows you wherever you go instead of a set path. One odd thing is that you will not always get hit if you are in the middle with Gulpo and he is shooting at you. Sometimes he will miss you and you’ll hit him. On the Saturn it seemed you would always get hit if you were heading towards him and he shot at you.
  • Jackle doesn’t always back up as you chase him so sometimes you only need to dodge one or two cards before you reach him making it easier. On the Saturn you would sometimes not even reach him by the time he finished throwing cards and he would fly away to start throwing cards again. Also, when you do throw him he gets thrown so fast that he will get tossed around the ring a full lap or two.
  • Clawz generally feels the same. Sometimes it seems more difficult to paraloop the mice to explode them, and sometimes you will not hit the mice when dashing if you fly in-between them and the platform.
  • Reala seems the same.
  • Wizeman is still amazing as ever and doesn’t appear to be any different.

4) Glitches

  • You can no longer move during the start of a dream when nightmaren take your ideya, which was a nice benefit because you could get to areas of the map before time started ticking down on the bonus time. This also eliminates the sitting NiGHTS glitch when entering the ideya palace before the ideya capture cutscene is completed.
  • It’s interesting that the stunt ribbon glitch is still on the PS2, because it was definitely a glitch on the Saturn. It is a cool glitch to keep because you can get some pretty high scores using it.
  • One glitch that’s new on the PS2 is the ability to link 2 stunt ribbons together, starting the 2nd ribbon where you left off on the 1st ribbon. This is possible in Mystic Forest where you have 2 stunt ribbons on the same lap and can reach the second one before the time runs out on the first one.
  • The Fat NiGHTS glitch in Soft Museum is no longer achievable by bouncing off the floor or ceiling at the end of the museum.
  • In Splash Garden you can stand on the bounding box of a rock and jump on the switch an infinite number of times. The bounding box will let you stand in the air just high enough that as you jump you will hit the alarm clock and it will not get you. This is slightly harder to do on the PS2 because the bounding box is smaller and the alarm clock can still hit you. On the Saturn it was impossible to get hit by the alarm clock so it must be able to hit you more easily on the PS2.
  • The Max Link glitch is still in the game. It happens when you carry a link from one mare into the next by collecting a chip or star inside of the ideya palace. When you look at your Max Links in the Dream Data screen you will have a large link on a mare that is not possible.

5) Missing Features

  • A number of Xmas features are missing like Sonic into Dreams, Melody Box, Link Attack, Time Attack, Karaoke, certain galleries and artwork. You no longer unlock presents by playing the card matching game. Instead you have two thirds of the gallery on a new save and the final third is unlocked when you beat the game.
  • There is no option to play the Saturn looking version of Xmas NiGHTS.
  • The 2 player mode is missing from the regular game.
  • The intro to Xmas NiGHTS is only in Japanese.
  • The hint screens are only in Japanese.

6) Music

  • In general the music is as great as the original and there are no differences that I could notice. The only exception is maybe when the music is looping at the start of a dream, the beginning and end of the loop seems more noticeable.
  • One difference is that the music continues to play when you finish Mare 4. On the Saturn the music stopped and there was an eerie silence as you waited to take on the boss.

7) Enhancements

  • The updated graphics are really nice throughout the whole game. Even the scaled down Saturn looking version looks good. The draw distance is better, but could still be increased, letting you see more of the background and chips and rings in both versions.
  • The new time features are great like Halloween NiGHTS including different costumes for Claris and Elliot, as well as swim suits during the summer season, and playing as Reala against NiGHTS on April Fools.
  • The FMV’s can be replayed in the Movie Theatre as you unlock them throughout the game.
  • The Exit option is now available when pausing the game.

4 Responses to Differences Between PS2 and Saturn

  1. gsk says:

    wow, very detailed Charlie, good read. I worry about any nid xbox/psn version is that it would be based on the ps2 version…

  2. Peter says:

    Excellent write-up, especially for those that have not played the PS2 version (me).

  3. blackrabite says:

    Excellent review! I’ve only spent a few minutes with the PS2 port, but I immediately felt the effects of the many minor differences in gameplay. While it’s too bad that the game isn’t quite as polished as perhaps we would have hoped, at least there will -always- be a place for the authentic Saturn disc!

  4. William Stonehocker says:

    Since SEGA didn’t release NiGHTS PS2 in the USA and Canada, as well as Europe and Australia, there should be a lawsuit against them.

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