Float like a Ninja, sting like a pixel! N+ has been released on almost every platform you can think of that hosts arcade games (DS, XBLA, PC, PSP). Much like Alien Hominid, N+ evolved out of a simple flash project, N, that turned into so much more. N+ plays like most “single screen platformers” you’ve played before (Meatboy, and the Alien Hominid PDA Games), but controls perfectly, and has twice as many levels as the aforementioned games combined. While N+ excels in many areas, it is lacking in a few. Read on for the full review.
The game looks very sleek, despite its simplistic graphics. There really isn’t much to say about them other than “what you see is what you get”. Most of the terrain is gray, most of the enemies are blue, and mines are red. N+ very simply presents itself: you are a Ninja, and you love gold. There are 5 levels in a set, and you carry a “timer” through them. If you collect the optional “gold”, seconds will be added to your total, and you will receive additional time to complete your level set. Once the set is over, the timer resets.
N+ also gives many hardcore platformer gamers something they rarely ever get: a good camera system. You can either zoom in right next to your Ninja for tricky jumps, or zoom out and view the entire level to plan your strategy. The only thing I really didn’t like about N+’s presentation is the lack of “hazard” objects, and the diversity of their design, specifically. The enemies are all mostly blue, and the levels don’t stray from a grayscale look. While this isn’t a big deal, the game could have benefited from using a different color scheme, at least for a few sets of levels. Most of the game’s levels are named after references found in popular culture. A few gems are “one jump to rule them all”, and “Manimal lust 2: Return of the Franchise”. Your character model can also be changed, but this doesn’t effect gameplay. There are a few interesting ones, namely “Player 1″ (A Mario skin), and “Player 2″ (A Luigi skin).
N+ plays beautifully. You can either use A or the Right Trigger to jump, and X kills your character (for when you get stuck). Your Ninja can grab walls, and slide down them, in addition to jumping from wall-to-wall. The jumping is very floaty, allowing for some interesting level designs, and tricky platforming. You’ll never be frustrated when it comes to using your Ninja: the game controls perfectly. Even though there may be a few frustrating level designs, it’s always your fault if you have difficulty completing them, not the controllers.
While N+ plays like a gem, it lacks in the realm of sound. The music and sound effects are all re-used material. There are really only a few songs in the game, and they’re subtle trance tunes. Most people don’t mind light electronica, so it won’t get on your nerves, but you’ll wish there was at least one more track (perhaps a light jazz tune?). The Ninjas never make a sound, and you don’t get much in terms of effects other than “explosion, electricity, and splat”. If there were a few different sound effects, the game could have felt less monotonous. For instance, after completing a level set, there could have been a firework, or clapping sound effect.
If you initially enjoy N+, there is a lot for you to do in it. First of all, there are over 400 levels for you to play when you first buy the game. There are also 3 level packs on the marketplace right now, and 1 of them is free. That’s 100 single player levels, 50 multiplayer co-op levels, and 50 race levels for the free pack. That’s a ton of replay value right there.
Have friends that enjoy N+? That’s where the game really shines. There are 4 ways to play with friends: Race, Survival, Single Player co-op, and multiplayer co-op. Single player co-op is just the normal game, with friends. Multiplayer co-op features brand new levels that sometimes require both players to live through the entire stage in order to complete it. Race and Survival are two of the most fun modes found in any platformer. Race is pretty straightforward: be the first to complete the level, and exit the stage. There are some really fun moments to be had in this mode, and it’s very strategically oriented. You could always skip the button that opens up the end door, and make a friend do it. Or, you could sabotage your friend by using certain level elements that will leave him stuck. Survival is also extremely fun. Every player has a separate timer that increases when you gather gold. If you die, your timer still runs down, and you have to wait to respawn, while your buddies are gathering gold to extend their life. The game goes on until there’s only one man standing.
Survival levels range from straight platforming challenges for gold, to hectic hazard levels with missiles constantly barraging your Ninja. There are a ton of these special levels to keep you busy, provided you have people to play them with. There is also a level editor included that you can use to make the platforming experience of your dreams for yourself, and your friends.
Overall, N+ gives you way more than you paid for it content-wise, but there are a few things that prevent it from being a true classic. It doesn’t have a ton of personality in terms of visuals and sounds, and the level design isn’t phenomenally different when you progress from set to set. If you enjoy the demo, and have friends that will play it with you: strongly consider this game. If you’re going to be playing it solo, make sure you won’t get sick of it before you buy it.