Nights: Journey of Dreams (Sniper)
Developer: Sonic Team
Nights 2 tries its hardest to imitate the art style of the original, but only partially succeeds; the art direction seems more like classic or cosmopolitan European work than whimsical or dream-like. From a technical perspective, the models do a reasonable job of capturing the look of the characters in the first title, but the occasionally awful texture work and a few ugly color palettes undo the magic.
The soundtrack is probably the strong suit of this title, although like the artwork, it somewhat misses the mark stylistically, conjuring Hollywood orchestra rather than the dream-like and rhythmic motifs of the original. Voice acting is, almost surprisingly, tactfully done-- the choice to pick actors with an understated delivery style and English accents, a point that seems nearly obligatory in fantasy media today, meshes well with the Nights universe.
The core gameplay dynamics that gave the original title such a strong following, even 12 years later, comprise only a small portion of what you will be doing in this title. The rest of the content is filled out with a selection of reasonably fun yet simple platforming levels, and mediocre mini-games. Even in the conventional Nights levels, some key gameplay changes were made that make the game more race-focused, and when combined with the inferior level layouts, this title is nowhere near as attractive or engaging as its predecessor.
Nights 2 succeeds in capturing the magical aura of the famous original, and in spots, the gameplay is truly worthy of succeeding that title. But rather than spending their time making a silly narrative, recording needless voice acting, and creating forgettable mini games, the development team could have focused their time into taking the formula, which is what has made the creation of a sequel worthwhile in the first place, to new, soaring heights.