To be honest, the graphics is the original NiGHTS were nothing spectacular either. Compared to other titles on the Saturn at the time, like Panzer Dragoon it didn't stand as tall. Sure it was bright and colourful and did what it did with confidence, but the graphics themselves were very low level.
This is one reason I'm not too pushed with them updating the graphics too much. If NiGHTS is spiraling crazily around the screen at all times as he was in the original, his current character model should hold up nicely.
I guess it depends on what you mean by graphics. Graphics as in how many pixels are being pushed each frame? or graphics as in overall aesthetic look? Or graphics as in realism?
I would definately say NiGHTS graphics with the 2nd definition(aestheticaly pleasing) were the best released on the saturn. But that would be subject to opinion.
And I would questionably say NiGHTS graphics with the 1st definition(amount and complexity of pixels/triangles rendered per frame) were also ahead of the other titles of the time.
For the 3rd definition I would say it was lacking.
Here is a shot of panzer dragoon zwei
Here is a shot of crash bandicoot
here is a shot of mario 64
here is a shot of virtua fighter 2
and here is a shot of NiGHTS
lets break them down
first texture quality/variety/size
NiGHTS takes the prize with plenty to spare
mario 64 gets last place and was lapped twice by every other competitor
virtua fighter has no blending and bad lighting and looks like ice scuptures, and not very detailed of textures either so doesnt do very well.
panzer dragoon has very blended lighting on its textures and the textures seem detailed but there is not much variety
crash textures look very detailed but not much variety too much repeating and looks boring overall.
number of polygons/pixels pushed
NiGHTS has a ton of polygon complexity to the front of the scene but very short draw distance to compensate
crash has a very long draw distance but a good amount of polygon complexity
panzer dragon practicaly has nothing on screen, an empty wasteland but good complexity to the animated models
mario has fairly good polygon complexity but the lack of good textures retrack any amount of detail you can get from polygons
virtua fighter has very complex objects but the bad lighting really hurts it, i mean each poygon sticks out like a soar thumb. with that many polygons they could have got some exellently blended vertex lighting.
overall aestetic look, that is completely up to the viewer
but i think NiGHTS is miles ahead of these other games