My love affair with the N Series began in 2008 with the release of N+, which was the second game in the series. However I have to be honest, N+ wasn’t even on my radar as being a game I needed or wanted to play. Based on what I’d seen at the time, it looked to be far too simple and I couldn’t see the value contained within it.
And then I downloaded the demo. By the time I’d beaten all of the levels within it, I knew I needed to buy it. With that being said, could N++ possibly live up the the high expectations that I approached it with?
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with N++, take a moment to familiarize yourself before continuing.
There’s no denying that N++ is, visually, an incredibly simplistic game. N++ is centered around your character, a Ninja that is nothing more than a traditional stick figure. In fact there tends to be more definition found in the moments of your death, as you explode across the screen, then when you’re still alive. What’s more, the maps/ rooms contained within the game aren’t packing much more in terms of definition. If you were to take this game at face value, there’s a strong possibility you’ll do the same thing I did with its predecessor and dismiss it. If you were to take the visual presence of N++ and try to apply it to any other game, it would likely fail.
However it lends itself perfectly to N++, the overly simple appearance allows you to focus completely on the gameplay and surviving the immediate obstacles at hand.
The first time I loaded up N++, I was excited and intrigued by the presence of a “Story” option on the main screen. Naturally I clicked it expecting to find some means of a story mode, which would’ve been completely out of character for the N series. Instead what revealed itself was a single screen with a written back story setting up the character and his need for gold. That is the extent of a storyline within N++.
Even though I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more to that “story” option, it really wouldn’t have held true to the series if there had been anything else. The N Series isn’t one you pick up because you’re looking for an immersive story, you pick it up because of the immersively addictive gameplay. This certainly remains true for N++.
While N++ provides the misleading appearance of being an overly simplistic game, it’s packed with a level of depth that takes you completely by surprise. At it’s core you could say its a 2D action platformer with a rather simple objective; unlock the door and exit the room. However standing in your way is everything from your own clumsiness to a vast array of killer robots and death traps, that’ll kill you in an instant.
While playing the single player campaign the rooms are grouped together in a series of 5, this grouping is referred to as an episode. In every episode there’s a countdown clock that ticks away the seconds, when the clock reaches zero you’re dead. However you’re able to add some precious seconds back to your time by collecting the gold, that taunts you in every room. If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel compelled to go out of your way to collect it all. Unfortunately, you’ll quickly learn that isn’t always going to be possible. You’ll need to find the perfect balance between speed, efficiency, and gold collecting to survive the entire episode.
Anytime I approach a new room, I try to take a moment to assess the situation and put together a game plan. Unfortunately things don’t always work out as you expect, whether it’s; over/ under shooting a jump, running too fast, approaching a new obstacle/ tool for the first time, or an array of weaponized death machines. It isn’t a matter of if you’ll fail, its a matter of how many times before you succeed. And that’s the key, you’ve got to be willing to try and try again if you want to make your exit. At no time did I feel as if I was wasting my time or unnecessarily repeating myself, I found that I wanted to push until I succeeded as it made the victory that much sweeter. N++ is undoubtedly going to be one of the most frustratingly fun games you’ll ever find yourself playing.
While the single player campaign is the reason I needed to get my hands on N++, they’ve built-in a phenomenal co-op mode that allows you to attack an entirely new set of episodes with up to 4 people. Much like any traditional co-op game, you need to work as a team to ensure you’ll be able to make your exit. However in most games the idea is for everyone to make it out alive, Metanet added their own personal twist to the idea of co-op gameplay. I like to refer to it as “Sacrificial Teamwork”. You’ll need to work together for as long as possible to hit all of the necessary triggers to unlock the door, however you’ll come to a point when you’ll realize someone will need to sacrifice themselves if you want to get that door open. Hopefully you’ll get to peacefully make that decision, without ruining friendships along the way.
In addition to the co-op experience, you also have the ability to go head to head and race to see who’ll complete the room first. If you’re at all concerned that your friendships won’t survive the sacrificial co-op, then the race mode might be the multiplayer solution for you.
Of course I wouldn’t be able to review N++ without taking a moment to talk about one of my favorite features, “create”. Metanet has provided us with full access to their N++ toolkit, they’re giving you the ability to create the most insanely frustrating rooms that you can use to challenge yourself, friends, or share it with the community and try to trip up the world.
It’s worth mentioning that N++ features a phenomenal soundtrack, they’ve managed to pack in more than 6 hours of music. You know the music is great when you’re perfectly content letting the game play so the music doesn’t stop.
In addition to the hours of music, they’ve built in hours and I mean hours of gameplay. They’ve built-in more than 2300 rooms and when you take into account the limitless possibilities opened up by the level creator, its clear that you’ll be able to play until your fingers bleed.
Some might find themselves turned off by the minimalist approach, however it allows you the ability to focus on the task at hand… Survive and escape at all costs. N++ is truly a challenging gaming experience that could easily be described as a frustratingly fun deathride that you won’t be able to put down. The gameplay alone is enough to keep you coming back for more, however it’s everything that makes up N++ that makes it standout as the complete platformer package. At $19.99 I’d say you need to buy it now!