What's N a name?
N honor of the N+ border on the site, NewClassic does N+!
N, a free Adobe Flash game for the Mac / PC, found it's way onto my harddrive after a bored spring afternoon between Math and History classes. The rest of my break was filled wall to wall with mines, death, robots, and manic jumping.
N: Way of the Ninja is a platformer style game starring a small, ninja-like stick figure in a series of gray rooms hunting for gold. The ninja is a fast, agile creature, with a lifespan spanning the length of 90 seconds. Although a brave creature by trade, he seeks the way of N, which is collecting gold to increase his lifespan, and make his way through five deadly rooms, otherwise known as "completing an episode." This flash game burned away many an hour of my free time.
So, imagine my surprise when N+, a game for the Nintendo DS / PSP appears at my local game store (I would've gotten the X-Box Live version, but alas, no 360...). After buying and playing for several hours, I'm finding much of my N-love being transferred to N+.
N+ - Now N widescreen! (I swear I'll stop the N puns eventually.)
This section of the review will be for the readers who have never played N. (Found here if curious)
N/N+ is a platformer style game designed with a physics engine and controller-snapping frustration in mind. The game immediately proves itself as a contender for the "Don't Take Oneself Too Seriously" award with the game prologue reading as follows:
"Your god-like speed, dexterity, jumping power, and reflexes are all the result of an amazingly fast metabolism; sadly, so is your natural lifespan of 1.5 minutes.
Like all ninjas, you have an unquenchable thirst for gold, a natural propensity for exploring rooms infested by increasingly lethal ninja-killing robots, and a devout belief in N.
N is a highly advanced system of spiritual, cognitive, and physical training. It emphasives pacifism, humility, and the need to traverse 5 rooms before the end of you lifetime; a feat known only as 'beating an episode'.
In accordance with the teaching of N, it is your profound hope that one day you will develop your skills, intelligence, and inexplicable ability to reincarnate to achieve mastery of all N levels."
The game has two methods of death:
A. Falling to you doom, or sudden stops when you have too much momentum.
B. Death by trap, be it drone, mine, or turret.
The levels are usually under a minute in length, providing you with variable amounts of gold (which add 2 seconds to your lifespan), traps, a switch to open your exit door, and the exit door, your door to freedom. Your life begins at 90 seconds, and progresses downward throughout the five stages of an episode.
The stages themselves are inventive, and intriguing in design. The method of death is almost always rampant, with only scant millimeters or seconds between prolonged life or instant death. The game plays hilariously unforgiving of flaws, with stages designed with your demise in mind. The only safe haven is the fact that when you die in a stage, you respawn at the beginning, instead of restarting the entire episode (unless you leave, then you start the episode over).
Upon the completion of an episode, the next episode is unlocked, and the player is provided with more levels to traverse in 90 seconds or less, plus or minus some gold.
N Familiars - Start from here.
N+ does a good job of picking up where N left off, the graphical upgrade doing enough to really give the game a facelift without detracting from what N was about, which was simple design and fun gameplay. The physics engine made the transition beautifully, and the gameplay suits the PSP's controls like a glove.
More levels are displayed in a different layout, providing a bit of uniqueness previously unfound in the computer versions, but altogether hardly noteworthy. The game prompts the addition of unlockables, which enable you to get music, victory poses, or colors for your ninja. These unlockables are entirely cosmetic, and don't affect the game in any way, which is appreciated after several games feeling like the developers were punishing me for having differing aesthetic taste.
On an interesting note, the options menu allows the player to return the game to it's N graphics, changing the cyber-punk rooms back to the grey walls and low-resolution bots. Not entirely good or bad on it's own right, but an option to appease the purists. (Oddly enough, the game titles this mode "Pure.")
The platforming is as strong as ever, providing fun intermingled with difficulty, both frustrating and entertaining. The game now includes multiplayer, which is an addition I look forward to delving into once I get back to college with my PSP-owning friends.
Step lightly, my friend. This could end badly.
The only major issue with the game, that I've found so far, is the load times. Everything except the in-episode stage changing. Throughout my first playtest, I was certain the game had frozen several times. Instead, it was just loading, without sound indication of the button functioning, or loading screens, or anything...
But that's it, that little nit-pick, and the rest of the game is excellent.
Hey, I kinda remember this enemy from Galaga.
Overall, the game does a good job of taking the best of N for the PC, and transferring it to a portable game on my PSP. With lots of good to speak of, if momentum-based platforming is your thing, then you're bound to find a lot to love out of N / N+.
You should try N for the computer. If you like it, pick it up for the handheld / console of your choice. If this is your kinda thing, then you won't regret it.