I’m concerned, Tumblr.
Above is a 20 minute demo for NiGHTS HD, coming to XBLA, PSN and presumably PC sometime in the future. It is based on the 2006 Playstation 2 port of NiGHTS, which I am lucky enough to own in addition to the original Sega Saturn version.
The Playstation 2 port of NiGHTS is pretty good, for the most part. But it’s not exactly perfect - there are a lot of little weird inconsistencies in it, and my understanding is that is a result of NiGHTS PS2 not actually being a real port - it’s more of a recreation. In lieu of being able to port over the actual Sega Saturn code, Sega re-made NiGHTS from scratch, and did not end up with a perfect replication, and therein lies the problem with the XBLA version.
This manifests itself in several ways, from little stuff like the music in the intro FMV not being timed to the action properly (Saturn vs. PS2), all the way up to differences in how the game itself controls. NiGHTS is supposed to be a very graceful sort of character, and the game’s controls were specifically tuned for the Sega Saturn 3D analog controller.
In mechanical terms, this means that NiGHTS had a lot of momentum to its movement, in order to accurately convey the fluidity of flight. This fluidity was a core design tenant of NiGHTS; it was something Sonic Team worked very, very hard to accomplish - as the story goes, Yuji Naka originally had the idea for NiGHTS after completing Sonic 2, but Sonic Team did not feel they had adequate processing power to convey the sensation of flight until the Sega Saturn (which, for all the complaints about poor 3D rendering performance, had quite a lot of processing horsepower under its hood for the time).
To sum it up: this fluidity of movement is very, very important to NiGHTS as a concept.
The Playstation 2 version of NiGHTS did not completely honor this concept of fluidity. Controls in NiGHTS PS2 are more rigid than they are in the Saturn version - NiGHTS has less of that trademark momentum and the controls end up feeling too responsive almost to the point of borderlining on being stiff. It doesn’t exactly ruin the game, but it loses some of what made the original game feel so graceful.
Sometimes, tighter controls are not always better controls.
Those of you out there with keen eyes can watch these two videos I made of the Saturn and Playstation 2 versions of Christmas NiGHTS and judge for yourself. If you can’t see any change between these two videos, trust me, you definitely notice the difference if you play both versions of the game back-to-back.
While I have not played the Xbox Live Arcade edition of NiGHTS, judging by the above 20 minute Gamespot video, the “stiffness” of the Playstation 2 edition of NiGHTS has only been made even worse, to the point where their gameplay footage looks sort of awkward. I almost wonder if it’s an analog stick issue; perhaps the increased analog fidelity in today’s controllers versus the Saturn 3D Controller is mucking up the game’s fluidity? Or maybe it’s just the guy playing it?
Either way, color me worried. The NiGHTS “experience” is a very delicate balance of a lot of things (like most early Sonic Team games), and if they get the controls wrong on this port, it could make or break the entire tone of the game for a lot of people.
Don’t disappoint me again, Sega.