When that new NiGHTS game came out for the Wii in Japan last December, many of the first copies came with a little NiGHTS toy as a bonus of some sort (as seen in the commercial above). When the game popped up over here however, we weren't treated to this little extra gift, much in the same way that we don't get a lot of things Japan does, like expensive box sets for anime games full of spoons and pillows. If you look around on Ebay for long enough, however, you may just come across one of these little figures separate from the game. Considering I only paid £20 for the game itself, paying £11 for the toy didn't seem like too bad a deal. They weren't kidding about it being small though, but with the amount of shelf space I have left maybe that's not such a bad thing.
The toy has been designed by besidegames as part of their PaPETCH range of little figures all based around the same template (in fact, it appears to be the first one released) and ever since this NiGHTS design it looks like video game companies have been jumping at the chance of having their characters re-created in tiny figure forms. Have a look at their line up and you'll see characters from Exit, the Kunio series and Hammerin' Harry. They also show artwork of a Reala toy, although it's hard to tell if that one has been released or how you could get it, though. maybe it's a special one you only get in the box if you're lucky (if someone could translate the text in red under Reala, that would be great as it could explain).
So not a lot can really be said about the toy, really. It's about 6cm tall, made of some kind of vinyl and comes with a little plastic stand so it doesn't topple over from it's large head. It's obviously a simplified version of the character's design but still a good likeness.
But what did I think of the game? Well, at first, it doesn't give off the best of first impressions. The FMV scene is the usual top north stuff we've come to expect from Sega games, but the in game cut scenes run at a low frame rate, look washed out and features voice acting that seems to be mostly done by one very annoying voice actor/actress. At least Reala and Wiseman's voices do their job well enough, but story scenes are really quite embarrassing to sit through and on the first run unskippable. Even the cut scenes from Sonic Adventure were a bit more bearable. Much like those 3D Sonic games, they also make you play away from the main fun of the game sometimes, with tedious missions and clunky exploring levels where you play as the children.
The main stages and bosses, however, are great. The visuals for some reason looks far better than the rest of the game here, as if all the extra stuff was thrown in near the end of production, and the game play is just like the original, if you ignore the fact that they changed the aim of each lap a bit. One thing that also bugged me at first were the Wii remote controls: the remote pointer is a joke and completely broken, and the Nunchuck mode doesn't quite feel right either because the analouge stick isn't quite up to the accurately needed for flying in circles, but once I had a go at using the Gamecube controller I never turned back.
As I got further into the game I found myself warming up to it, and the final stage and boss redeemed the whole game for me, and there was more beautifully animated FMV scenes to boot. I'm rambling on here but if you decide to buy this game and get put off by the start keep at it, as it gets progressively better and once you have completed the story you can go back to beat your scores (without having to see those cut scenes again), as well as have a go at the online racing mode, which is pretty limited but a nice addition. It's not the perfect sequel, but it's defiantly one of Sega's better games in recent memory. At least it was more fun than Sonic and the Secret Rings which almost drove me to drink from frustration. If you liked the Saturn game and can excuse some imperfections, get it. If you didn't play the original...play that first.