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Merry Christmas NiGHTS

posted on December 25th, 2006 by jay

NiGHTS into Dreams for the Saturn brings to mind the topic of games as art. Not only because the game has artistic value, though. Fans of the title have been calling for a sequel from the second the original was released. Yuji Naka, the leader of the project, contemplated giving fans what they want but then decided NiGHTS should stand alone.

So what does this have to do with art? Gamers’ have the attitude that games are made for them and developers should value the input of their fans. This works nicely as long as we assume games are merely consumer products. But what if we hold that games are art? Doesn’t that make developers artists? It’s one thing to hope your favorite band makes more music you enjoy, but to demand they output exactly what you want to hear and to feel entitled to this is bizarre.

Realistically, most artists have at least some sense of the market place their art exists in. Shakespeare wrote for an audience. I am not advocating we accept anything game designers produce simply because they are artists and should not sink to making art people other than themselves would enjoy. The poet who writes only for himself and believes that all critics merely don’t understand him is often just talentless. But at the same time, producing art based solely on the market place yields such atrocities as Britney Spears and Monster in Law. Shakespeare wrote for an audience but he still wrote what he wanted to write. Game developers should not be loathed because they refuse to create exactly what their customers want.

Yuji Naka has compared NiGHTS to Spielberg’s ET. To make a sequel of his game would be like making a sequel to a perfect classic movie; completely unnecessary and self defeating. I understand and often feel the desire for developer’s to make what I want them to make (SHENMUE 3 NOW!!!!!!!) but it is hard to deny that Schindler’s List 2 would be stupid. As would Ico 2. If gamers’ want to do more than give lip service to the idea that their beloved medium is art, they need to treat it as such and realize they are patrons of the arts and not merely electronics consumers.

Some may not be convinced by the art angle. Whether I say games are the height of human culture or simply shrink wrapped pieces of plastic, many will still insist that developers survive because of their fans and so they owe their fans. Thus, I have also constructed a more practical argument. This is why NiGHTS 2 should never come out – Sega is, for all intents and purposes, dead. The likely-hood they will release another classic in the next century is nil. You’re better off waiting for L Ron Hubbard’s second coming on the Hale-Bopp comet. Now that Naka has left Sega and the talent left at Sonic Team is responsible for brilliant characters such as Silver the Hedgehog, the request for a NiGHTS sequel seems masochistic.

Even if the game were great, which it wouldn’t be, it is exceedingly difficult to top a classic. Nintendo pondered over New Super Mario Brothers for over 15 years and still did not come close to trumping Super Mario Brothers 3. A merely good NiGHTS 2 would tarnish our memories of the first game. It is often better to dream of what could have been than to have the object of your desires in your hands. Shenmue Online will make this nut-crackingly clear.

Merry Christmas and may Santa never brings you NiGHTS 2.

5 Comments

  1. Matt said on December 25, 2006:

    Very interesting analysis on the issue of art and appeasing one’s fans. I definitely agree on your points, but what still drives me to ask for a sequel is the fact that it isn’t very easy to get a copy of NiGHTS for the Saturn and to play it. It was made for a system that died very quickly, and I’m pretty sure NiGHTS didn’t sell as well as it should have. They probably only had one printing of it. I guess we don’t have to have a sequel, but we still need to enjoy the original one. Either get it out through the Virtual Console, or a remake, one that doesn’t necessarily need to be changed at all. I’m defintiely all for the integrity of one’s art and expression, but please let people experience it at least once in their life. Paintings, movies can be seen and reviewed in one form or another, but games need to be played. And we can’t do that if we don’t have a copy of it. I’ve been playing the demo for years now, and don’t want to spend $50 on eBay for the main game.

  2. Christian said on December 25, 2006:

    Good point matt; sequel demands would be a lot less if they’d release Nights as a compilation, or any way where it was cheap and easy to find.  Just look at Gunstar and Guardian Heroes when they got GBA releases (though both were somewhat different, you get the point).  

  3. jay said on December 25, 2006:

    I understand where you are coming from, Matt, but NiGHTS isn’t exactly Alien versus Predator on the Jaguar. The Saturn sold millions and there are at least a dozen other excellent games you should play for it. Also, assuming you have one, NiGHTS is very cheap. I got mine (a few years ago so the prices may have changed a little) for around 10 bucks with the 3D control pad. I’m not against rereleases, it’s always good for more people to enjoy a game, but my point is if you are interested more than a little it is very easy to get your hands on this game.

  4. Christian said on December 26, 2006:

    Jay also has a good point, if my ebay luck wasn’t so poor I’d agree with him.

  5. Matt said on December 26, 2006:

    Yeah, if it’s not too hard to get, then that’s great. Maybe I’ll try after my gorging of video game this Xmas subsides. I got an Xbox 360, Gears, NFS Most Wanted, Excite Truck, Call of Duty 3, Scurge Hive (GBA), and 4 VC games (SMB, Castlevania, SF2, and F-Zero. I’m stuffed at the moment.

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