NiGHTS into Dreams Original Soundtrack
NiGHTS into Dreams Original Soundtrack
July 10, 1996
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NiGHTS into Dreams was an adventure game developed by Sonic Team following two children entering a dream world. Three Sonic Team veterans, led by Tomoko Sasaki, crafted a soundtrack that complemented the game with light-hearted, flighty, and fantastical music. The initial soundtrack release was a one disc compilation of the main tracks from the soundtrack, but lacked several important themes and has since been made redundant by the NiGHTS into Dreams Perfect Album. Nonetheless, it provides a good reflection of the style of music for the game and should suffice for those who already own it.
The album opens with the orchestral overture, “NiGHTS”. Composer Tomoko Sasaki introduces the main theme for the soundtrack in this track — simple yet dreamy and adventurous melody filled with Disney influences. Meanwhile Hayato Matsuo richly orchestrates it through grandiose, action-packed, whimsical, and romantic sections, culminating in a recapitulation with powerful brass and lavish piano decoration. The result perfectly captures the atmosphere of the game and is a wonderful stand-alone listen too. This is actually an arrangement exclusive to the album releases and an extended version of the game’s opening theme featured at the very end of the album. The main theme is integrated in slightly less elaborate ways throughout the soundtrack in pieces such as the dance mix “Message from Nightopia”, pop-flavoured “Growing Wings”, or minimalistic “D’Force Master”. The melody isn’t that flexible and therefore often seems obligatory in these interpretations, yet the arrangements are good enough for the tracks to still be worthwhile.
Throughout the soundtrack, Tomoko Sasaki tends to maintain a very optimistic vibe. The character select theme reinforces the youthful aura of the game with fragile tuned percussion and child voices. Setting themes such as the “Gloom of the N.H.C.” and “Paternal Horn” instantly delight with their whimsical phrasing and unconventional use of organic instrumentation. “Suburban Museum” is a particular favourite with its unforgettable melody and folky instrumentation. However, note that the main setting themes are shortened from their full versions featured in the Perfect Album, which is probably the biggest limitation of this soundtrack release. Even the themes for the antagonists can be really endearing, whether the bouncy funk-flavoured “The Mantle” or the temperamental semi-operatic “She Had Long Ears”. Although everything is kept light throughout, there is certainly a tonne of diversity in styles here nevertheless. What’s more, the synth is so well done that the instrumentation sounds well-balanced and realistic.
The co-composers certainly offer plenty of diversity in the soundtrack. Fumie Kumatami once again demonstrates her tendency to offer abstract fusions of electronic and acoustic sounds in “The Amazing Water” and “Deep It Lies”. Whereas the former is quite soothing, the latter is pretty ‘out there’ and offers a vibrant accompaniment to delving into the dungeons. Naofumi Hataya’s “The Dragon Gave a Loud Scream” is an infectious blend of jazz and electronic features, culminating in an extravagant saxophone solo from the 1:06 mark. The two versions of “Nights and Reala” are also delightful, the first a refreshingly unconventional chillout theme, the reprise a hard rock fest. Both make good use of the main theme, as does the unused orchestral action theme “Know Thyself” featured at the climax of the album. The album ends with the main arrangement of the main theme, “Dream Dreams”, featuring gospel vocals. It’s a select taste, but still relatively creative for a theme song and integrated into the game reasonably well.
The NiGHTS into Dreams soundtrack will be a highly enjoyable listen for fans of light-hearted fantasy music. However, the first soundtrack release is probably not the one to go for due to several reasons. Most importantly, it is incomplete given the extended stage themes, various event cues, and vocal track variations are all absent. In addition, it is out-of-print and therefore carries a high pricetag to buy second-hand these days. But fear not, as the NiGHTS into Dreams Perfect Album offers a complete soundtrack for a more affordable price and even a bonus Christmas-themed soundtrack to go with it.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.