Don't be fooled by this. NiGHTS has more in common with a time attack racer than an adventure game, and although these mask personas will change the pacing of movement, they will probably be closer in kind to the log-surfing and cannonball riding sections of Secret Rings than the level clearing tools of Wario Master of Disguise. We wouldn't be surprised if transformations were out of your hands completely - don't forget that the original featured moments when NiGHTS would fold into a toboggan or a magnetic pile o' junk.
NiGHTS was never really concerned with the ins and outs of level exploration - brief on-foot 3D exploration sections at the beginning of each level were horribly clunky compared to the majestic flying. Instead, it had a retro hi-score hunting heart beating away within. With each stage of the game set to a tight 120 seconds, the game's many dedicated fans found that getting the most out of NiGHTS meant searching out those perfect runs, linking together chains of rings and running as many laps of the level as time would permit.
Iizuka is adamant that this hardcore following is not going to put off newcomers to the series. "When I first thought about NiGHTS, I wanted to create an action game like no other. I found that the "typical" action games got harder the further the player progressed, to the point that the player would eventually just put down the controller and stop playing.
As a game designer, this was very discouraging. So with NiGHTS I wanted to create a game experience where the player could go through to the end, no matter how skilled they were at playing games. In this way, the player could enjoy the story as it unfolds. And as they got better, they could always go back and try for a better score. This was very important to keep for the sequel."
More of interest to the 'hardcore fans' is the creative team behind the game. Iizuka informs us, "I am fortunate to have with me several original members of the NiGHTS team including Mr Hoshino (Art Director), who was responsible for character design, and Mr Hataya (Music Director), who composed the soundtrack. Also, we have been able to bring onboard a whole new staff that have a passionate desire for the original NiGHTS game and are enthusiastic in creating the sequel.
This is a big plus for our team!" The news of Hataya's involvement in creating the atmospheric musical backdrop is of particular interest, with the original featuring an ace soundtrack that mood-morphed around player performance.
But enough of the good ol' days. What tricks are in store for our brand spanking new Wiis? For one, WiiConnect24 will be dusted off for a spot of as yet unspecified item exchanging. "Like dreams that universally tie each human being together, I want to somehow be able to share everyone's experiences using the network," says a rather cryptic Iizuka. Based on the original, we believe that this exchanging will involve the A-Life system, a creature-breeding programme contained within the game's levels.
By booting your Nightmaren foes into the innocent Nightopians wandering the landscapes below the sky-sweeping NiGHTS, players could create hybrid Mepians, the ultimate aim being to eventually breed a Superpian - all in the course of a level run-through. A deep system
on the Saturn; the mind boggles at its potential scale on Wii.
Further to this item exchanging, Iizuka promises two-player action: "I think the Wii is a great family-based game console that is a perfect match for the NiGHTS experience. I want the game to be able to bring the family together both through the story as well as the gameplay.
This game is meant to be enjoyed by everyone rather than just one person sitting in front of a screen playing by themselves." In fact, the sideways-moving format would work brilliantly with some form of point-grabbing racing scenario, hopefully padding out the original's simple one-on-one paraloop multiplayer battles.