A Short Pause Review - N++: Simple Visuals + Brutally Tough Gameplay + A++ Music = An Awesome Platformer
Developer: Metanet Software (@MetanetSoftware)
Platforms: PlayStation 4
I'm not going to sugarcoat it. If you play N++, you are going to die... a lot. Metanet Software's puzzle-platformer features over 2,000 levels of action-packed gameplay designed to test your skills at every turn.
In N++, you play as a stick-figure ninja and your job is simply to get to the exit door of each level. In order to do so, you must first press a button to open the door, and then reach the exit without being killed by the wide array of enemies and hazards found throughout the game. You traverse each level by running, jumping, and kicking off of walls. Momentum plays a large role, as you can jump higher and farther by getting a running start. If you fall from a great height, you die. However, if you land on an incline, you'll survive such a fall. It's even possible to kick all the way up to the top of a wall if you employ good timing in your button presses. Each stage contains several pieces of gold that can be collected, which will extend the time limit for completing the level. This is where the real challenge comes in. Beating the game is one thing, but if you can collect all of the gold in every level, then you are a true ninja master!
One of the most important aspects of any good platformer is solid controls, and N++ absolutely nails it in this regard. When I play a platform game, I prefer to use the D-pad — as opposed to the analog stick — because it allows me to make minor adjustments if needed in order to land a jump. N++ allows you to do just that; even a single tap on the D-pad can affect your trajectory, which affords you the platforming finesse that this game demands. In my time with the game, I never felt like I died due to poor controls; if I failed a level, I had nobody to blame but myself.
The game features a retro-inspired aesthetic with simple graphics, and gives you the option to swap between several different color schemes. You can even unlock more color schemes as you play, although the grayscale option called "Vasquez" was the only one that didn't hurt my eyes.
Another notable feature of N++ is the music. The game's soundtrack features dozens of licensed tunes, and they all fit perfectly with the overall vibe of the game. As I alluded to earlier, a number of obstacles stand in-between you and the exit door in any given stage. Each level contains a variety of hazards and enemies intent on destroying you. You might have to dodge mines, homing rockets, laser beams, or even shadow ninjas that follow you, mimicking your every move. In addition to the massive amount of content built into the game, N++ also features an easy level-creation tool, which means that the potential for additional levels is endless.
If I had to criticize N++ (and since this is a review, I do), I would say that some of the levels are way too frustrating. The aforementioned homing rockets are a particular thorn in my side; they are extremely difficult to evade. There is also no distinct curve to the progression of difficulty. While one level might be insanely difficult, the next one could be exceedingly simple. Having said that, I've played more than 300 levels of N++ — including a few user-created ones — and I've enjoyed it by and large. I can see how this game could keep you busy for a good long while.
N++ has no story, no characters, no checkpoints, no voice acting, and no flashy graphics. It doesn't need any of those things. It's a game that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Yes, you will die a lot. You will get frustrated at times. But you'll also have fun and feel a great sense of accomplishment when you finally ace a level that you have failed repeatedly. If you're looking for an easy game, then look elsewhere. But, if you seek a very challenging platformer that will keep you busy for a while, then N++ is well worth the admission price.
Reviewed on PlayStation 4. Review code provided by the kind folks at Metanet Software.
- Tight controls
- Well-designed levels
- Excellent soundtrack
- The challenge of collecting all the gold in each level
- Homing rockets
- Occasional urge to hurl my controller at the screen