When I was still in college, I didn’t have my trusty gaming PC, and I lived in a cramped dorm room with no TV, so I couldn’t bring my PS2 along. Most of my gaming was done on my roommate’s trusty white PSP slim. It was then that I discovered the magical world of N+. It was a platformer unlike any other: I guided the slender ninja from wall to wall, as he leap gracefully, collecting dozens of little yellow dots. While it was great to blaze through the game on PSP, I wanted to experience it on a bigger screen. Besides the DS and the PSP, N+ only existed on the 360, which I didn’t own. So you can imagine my joy when they announced a bigger, better N+ experience on the PS4. And you can imagine how much happier I was when they announced that N++ would be the definitive N experience, and that it would be the culmination of Metanet’s work on the platforming series, which began in 2004 with the flash game N. And when they announced that the ninja was returning to PC, you could say I was pretty happy as well.
So rejoice, PC gamers, for we now have N++! The really remarkable thing about the N games is the fluidity of motion. Your protagonist, the slender ninja, leaps artfully about, building momentum with each wall jump and crossing massive distances. It’s really fun to execute massive jumps that seem impossible by chaining together various jumps, and you’ll soon find yourself getting a sense of the movement dynamics. Few platformers have managed to create motion this seamless, and N+ really left an N-shaped hole in my heart after I finished it. It also left me with two broken thumbs, because the game can be hard as nails at times.
Indie platformers are almost always difficult to the point of grief (leading someone to coin the clever term maso-core to describe the genre), but N++ can be pretty creative when it comes to bringing the pain. There are a ton of different traps to contend with, from sliding machines that electrify you, to homing lasers that slowly take aim as you zip about. N++ has added a bunch of new traps, and they are as creative as they are infuriating. The real challenge, however, lies in collecting all the gold pieces. Throughout each level in N++, there are dozens of shiny little dots to collect. These dots serve two purposes. They extend your paltry 90-second lifespan, and they satisfy that part of you that wants to collect every little thing in a level. In classic risk/reward fashion, completing a level with all the gold pieces can get very, very difficult. It’s particularly bad for me, as I feel a sense of emptiness whenever I can’t properly complete a level, and so the game will inevitably sink its teeth into me for long stretches of time.
In terms of difficulty curve, N++ is all over the place. The levels are sorted into level packs, and you pretty much go through 5 at a time. This is a good thing because it means if a level is kicking your ass you can just move to another level pack, but it also means the game kind of lacks a sense of cohesion and progression. It’s just a ton of levels thrown together. Even within the same level pack, some levels would be cakewalks while others would be maelstroms of grief and sorrow. I know it’s tacky to get a hard game and complain about how hard it is, but sometimes it was just too much. Granted, the design of these levels is often very clever, and the challenge can be very engaging, but there really isn’t that much consistency. Overall, N++ is more of a really, really big collection of levels than it is one cohesive journey.
Those looking for content will not be disappointed, as N++ has a veritable cornucopia of platforming. Between the game’s own levels and the level designer content, the game can keep you occupied for hours on end. I found the level designer content to be especially good, considering user content is usually all over the place. But N++ actually has a devoted old-school fanbase, and those nice folks have created some really entertaining levels.
On the whole, it’s a pretty minimal game visually. There are little unlocks, like new color packs, but you stick with your ninja as the playable character. As for the soundtrack, it’s usually a smooth electro beat, so expect to be chilling and grooving while yelling profanity at the screen.
At $15 ($12 during launch week), N++ is a great deal for those looking for hours of platforming and possible carpal tunnel. The game’s levels have these cutesy titles like ‘avoid jumping’ or ‘steep climb’, and one of the levels is aptly titled ‘Completionist’s nigthmare’. That’s a pretty good description of the game.
N++ was reviewed using a PC downloadable code of the game provided by Metanet Software Inc. Game was tested on a PC running Windows 7 Pro, with a 4GB NVIDIA Geforce GTX 970 fitted on a 4th Generation Intel i7 4790 3.6Ghz CPU and topped with 8GB of RAM. N++ is also available on PlayStation 4 via digital releases. We don’t discuss review scores with publishers or developers prior to the review being published
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• Tons of levels
• Incredibly fluid platfoming action
• Non-linear level structure means you don’t get stuck
• Uneven difficulty curve
• Soundtrack is not that entertaining
• Pretty basic visuals
Mazen enjoys anything with over-the-top violence, dark humor and a real challenge. He’s still pretty big on single-player games and he’s always looking for new titles he might’ve missed out on, so if you know about a crazy new title that’s flying under the radar, look him up!
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