The game itself is the same, yet different. It seems the old 'collect 20 chips then take the Ideya to the exit' set-up is gone - at least for the most part. The game now seems more mission-based. The demo we were shown only featured a few levels, each with a different gameplay slant. One saw NiGHTS chasing a bird who was holding a key, both in regular side-on view and into-the-screen, before bringing that back to NiGHTS' prison. There was also a River Rescue level that saw us using NiGHTS as a boat and collecting Nightopians (the little A-life beings who were a precursor to the Chao in the Sonic Adventure series) along the way.
It may be a bit too early to judge, but the levels we played didn't seem as tightly designed as the old game. The rings and chips are still there, but they seem further apart and usually in the next logical direction. So rather than working out the best route between them, we were just steering NiGHTS through the somewhat predictable course, trying not to stray outside of the hoops. A subtle difference, but a tad disappointing. Diving underwater was a welcome surprise, although we still haven't seen the masks that were mentioned early in the game's development so no dolphin fun for us yet.
Above: Perform a paraloop by joining up the trail of stars behind NiGHTS to form a circle