But it's in the sky that NiGHTS has always excelled and, fortunately, this is where the majority of the gameplay is to be found. The mechanics have been stripped down considerably since the bewildering original, so now you don't have to search out 20 blue chips then get to the end. Instead, in the game's primary levels, you must simply chase a bird through the course until you grab it and retrieve the key to NiGHTS' prison three times. Passing through hoops replenishes your dash attack bar, so you'll get there faster by flying accurately.
This means the previously essential blue chips are largely redundant. It also means there's no 'bonus time' to be had by flying over the prison. You simply can't do that - the chain above it is solid and NiGHTS refuses to fly around it. Instead, it's simply a case of doing everything as quickly as possible. Simpler, certainly, but it has resulted in the hoops and chips being placed in a near continuous line around the course. So instead of carefully learning where to fly and paraloop to keep your link going, you'll just be pelting between hoops and items as quickly as you can.
Other tasks are then introduced, such as link attacks where you must register 5 links in succession before being graded on the average, although again this is more about speed than skill. There's also the occasional into-the-screen section, such as rafting in the morphed body of NiGHTS down a fast-flowing river, and a roller-coaster level where NiGHTS' body can be moved around above and to the side of the rails to pick up items. It's all varied and fun but there seems to be little tactical substance to really get your teeth into. Maybe extended time with the game will reveal extra depths, as the original did.
Above: Catch the bird and get the key. A simpler task than before, certainly...
A new feature we saw was a section called 'My Dream' which is an area you can customise, hidden away behind a door in the main hub level. The landscape in My Dream begins as a flat square, but the Nightopians (A-Life creatures like the Chao in Sonic Adventure) you evolve in the game will make the environment change as they grow. Nintendo WiFi Connection will make the weather here echo the real weather at the time of play. You can also invite other players to your space, allowing for some social gaming possibilities.
The Wi-Fi link will also allow for multiplayer races. These can take place on one console via split screen, between friends on WFC or in a random match against a player you don't know. Sounds good.