Another new feature we especially like is the 'Persona Mask' switching, which sees you selecting a mask using a direction button on the Wii-mote. The dolphin mask lets you speed through water (although you can use it in the air), the Rocket NiGHTS mask sees you streaking across the screen as a rocket - which is essential for a couple of the bosses - and we also unlocked the Dragon Mask near the end of the game which allows you to stop in the air and also become a fireball. Knowing when to use these masks is the key to the best scores and times and they're a welcome inclusion.
Speaking of the bosses, they are superb and well in keeping with the feel of the original. Each boss battle takes place in a closed arena and requires you to learn how to beat it, then doing so as quickly as possible to get the biggest score multiplier. Some of the tasks are unclear, but a help window pops up before each one and the owl is on hand in the pause menu to give you the hint again if you need it.
We saw some new bosses we hadn't seen before including a spider that drops balls of silk that you have to drill dash to smash the platform it's standing on (tricky) and a Cerberus boss with a chain you must attack so that its heads bang together. The most surreal addition was a sort of witch-like boss with pleasantly furry cats where you have to tilt the game field to make the cats fall down a hole. But we ran out of time on that one before all the cats had gone. Very weird, but enthralling nonetheless.
Above: Dolphin NiGHTS makes the old 'Sonic meets Ecco' description a bit too accurate
All in all, very promising. But we do have one nagging concern. Apart from NiGHTS' voice, it's the control that really worries us at this stage. Basic flight is not as responsive as before and you'll often find yourself overshooting a right-angled hoop just because of the delay. It also feels a tad 'digital' with the analog stick on the nunchuk, although we didn't have a Gamecube controller with us to test it as the team's been playing it. There's still time to sort it out and you can work around it, but we did feel half the battle was against the controls in the preview build.
Right - if you don't want to hear the spoilers (of which we've put in deliberately few), stop reading here. Or, if you're OK with spoilers, read on...