You might consider a mapping scheme I'm thinking of working with, where
the mapgrid is vertically offset half a screen (or the scenes are 2 screens
tall, with alternating barriers)... this way, you can keep it side-scrolling
oriented and still have each scene potentially access 4 more on a horizontal
level alone. Kind of like a squared-off hex grid.
I think I was planning to do something similar (if I'm picturing what you're saying correctly).
I thought it might be ice for a moment, too, but I'm assuming the water
is/will be animated. If that's the case I don't think anyone will mistake it
for ice in-game since, you know, ice doesn't tend to move of its own accord. I
say keep the caustic rays (a.k.a. shine line things) and just make sure they're
animated along with the rest of the water (surface undulation and rising