NiGHTS Into Dreams is a game that lends itself to secrets; the mysterious and whimsical atmosphere it takes from being set inside of dreams makes discovering elements of its world exciting. Now, a discovery in the music is gaining traction on social media recently for its direct sampling of a classic Christmas movie.
During the lifespan of the SEGA Saturn, Sonic Team took a break from developing core Sonic titles in favor of experimenting with new intellectual properties. Many cult classics with unique gameplay styles emerged from this era, like the tense firefighting of Burning Rangers and the unique flying adventure of NiGHTS Into Dreams.
Game composer Joey Freeze took clips from the main menu music of Nights Into Dreams, titled Gate of Your Dream in the soundtrack, and compared them directly with short clips from the 1990 Christmas movie Home Alone. Careful listening reveals that the seemingly random voice clips that play under the main melody are taken directly from the movie with minimal editing. The sound itself seems to be used just to fill more space in the audio and make it more atmospheric, but Home Alone specifically is an interesting source to take such sounds from.
The samples actually make more sense when NiGHTS Into Dreams itself is provided additional context; a shortened version of the game was released in Japan as Christmas NiGHTS, functioning both as a demo and as a holiday-themed spin on the game. It was distributed as a free gift to Saturn owners in Japan as part of a special holiday bundle, and uses the system’s internal clock to change the theming of the game according to the real-life date and time. Interested players can also play through the content in Christmas NiGHTS by beating the main game in the HD re-releases.
The holiday theming of Christmas NiGHTS fits with the setting of Home Alone, since a main draw of the Home Alone series is the Christmas theme. However, why the composers chose to sample a movie instead of just using stock samples is unknown. There could be an elaborate reason behind the choice, but most likely one of the composers heard the sounds in Home Alone and figured they would be perfect for the soundtrack.
NiGHTS Into Dreams stands as a vastly underappreciated title, with NiGHTS as a character essentially replacing Sonic as SEGA’s mascot through much of the Saturn era. The Saturn itself has gained appreciation in retro gaming recently, as the continued improvement of emulators and younger fans researching SEGA’s history discover that it had quite a few more merits than some give it credit for. Even with many iconic games remaining trapped on the aging hardware instead of being re-released, NiGHTS remains an iconic SEGA character despite the last mainline game releasing in 2007.