But first, the next set of day levels. When it started I whooped "Ice Cap Zone!". The scenery was great, the music was fantastic, and then the gameplay started. Sonic got on a sledge. Then, many autopilot slopes later, he got off the sledge, whereupon I ran through a largely badnik-absent landscape before getting to the end. After that, I had to play a "Sonic is afraid of ice sculptures" variant of the level where I died if I touched one of the ice stalagmites scattering the landscape, or ran out of time in a very arcadish manner... very, very frustrating.
However, after that I was presented with Chun-Nan at Night, a set of several levels, which, although not without their annoyances (mostly at being boxed into a magic boundary whenever a bunch of dark gaia henchmen appear), have been the most Sonic-y feeling levels I've played in a long time. There were hidden rooms I had to bash through walls to collect extras in, and alternate routes rather than a just a single pathway you have to stick to. There were obstacles and crevices to jump over, wind-blowing enemies to time your attacks on, and I even got to scale a waterfall by leaping between rocky outcrops and swinging on floating grab-points. I felt more like I was in a 3D Sonic 3 rather than a rehashed Secret Rings.
To add icing onto the cake, the boss scene was awesome. Everything I like in a boss. While the previous Day boss had been "chase Robotnik AS FAST AS YOU CAN AND OH GOD NEVER SLOW DOWN", this one required observing the Dark Gaia beast, dodging its attacks until you figured out its attack sequence, then using parts of the playing area (namely, throwing barrels of water) in order to defeat it. Then, rinse and repeat two more times. In a word, a perfect old-style boss.
While we're decorating the cake, each sequence of attacks on the boss finished with a move that I'm familiar with from Star Wars: Force Unleashed; once the enemy was nearly finished off, it was time for SHAKE THE WIIMOTE FRANTICALLY ON CUE. It was less painful than Force Unleashed (you only had to do one FRANTIC SHAKE, rather than a chain of half a dozen or more), and provided a finishing move that looked pretty cool and bled into a half-decent cutscene.
So, I can now see why Sonic Team added in the Werehog levels – I just hope they keep up at this caliber throughout the rest of the game. The night levels aren't a move away from traditional gameplay as everyone keeps on saying: they're a step back towards it. Of course, by now, most people seem to have forgotten that the 2D Sonic games consisted of more than simply running as fast as possible and 'ooh'ing at the framerate (although I do of course like bits like that from time to time).
Essentially we need a faster Werehog (the Werehog's sprint speed would make a good normal speed) with Spin Jump and Spin Dash attack rather than punching madness. This isn't Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Sega! (although Hedgehog has gained a Stomp Attack...)