Review: N++ (XBO)

Developed by: Metanet Software Inc.
Published by: Metanet Software Inc.

A significant amount of my early days on the internet were spent playing flash games on Newgrounds, Addicting Games, and other similar sites. Flash games hold a special place in my heart for this reason. One of the games I remember playing was N, a 2004 platforming flash game developed by Metanet Software. It was difficult, but also incredibly fun. However, this was also around the time when I began to move away from flash games, so N came and went in my life. I skipped N+ (the 2008 sequel for Xbox Live Arcade, DS, and PSP) and rarely reflected on my time spent with the original game. Fast-forward thirteen years later, and I get the opportunity to review the third game in the N series, N++. For the first time, I get to experience a classic flash game from my youth on a home console, and it’s safe to say N++ retains that simple, but difficult fun that I remember.

As a note to our readers, N++ was originally released on PlayStation 4 in 2015 as a timed-exclusive. This year, the game has finally arrived on Xbox One. Our review is based on the Xbox One version, but can be applied to all versions of the game.

Just like its predecessors, N++ is a game entirely focused on its gameplay. The N series is based around a physics system that focuses on momentum. Players will be pushed to their limits to perform difficult and tight jumps. The avatar, a ninja, has three basic controls: moving left, moving right, and jumping. This might seem simple on paper, but a player will quickly realize that they need to rely on momentum and timed jumps to succeed in each level. Performing wall jumps and finding slopes to gain speed is also key to success. Each individual stage encourages the player to survey the course and find advantages to use. This is a control scheme that is easy-to-learn, but difficult to master. Those who are fond of hardcore 2D platformers, that require time and patience, will fall in love with N++‘s physics system.

Time your jumps well or face your doom. Images provided by Metanet Software.

Much like the control scheme, N++‘s level design might seem simple, but it’s equally complex. The goal of each level is simple, though. You start with 90 seconds to complete a series of courses. The main goal in every level is to find the exit door and the switch to open said door. Once you’ve hit the switch, you can enter the door and move onto the next level. Getting to the door, however, is where your journey can get complicated. Each level is packed with hazards to avoid, such as lasers, rockets, and bombs. Falling damage is also something you need to be aware of, so taking a long fall will lead to the ninja’s death. If you happen to get hit or fall to your demise, the course will start over from the beginning. You’re going to fail a lot in N++, and I mean a lot, but conquering a tough level is incredibly rewarding.

Along the path of each level are a set amount of gold tokens, which can be collected to add more time to your timer. They also serve the purpose as a collectible for players to, well, collect. For dedicated players, collecting every gold token will serve as quite the challenge. Some levels can be accomplished with little effort, but throwing in hard-to-reach tokens adds more challenge to the simplest of courses. Metanet Software carefully balanced each of their levels to appeal to all kinds of players, which is incredibly smart and appreciated. Whether or not you want to rush through the levels or carefully collect every gold token is ultimately up to you. Everyone who plays N++ will find their preferred style of play.

You’re going to see the poor ninja explode a lot, but his victory pose in the end makes it all worth it.

N++ is packed to the ceiling with content. In the single-player mode alone, there are over one thousand developer crafted levels to get through. You start small with a handful of introduction levels, which teach you the basics of the game. After finishing the intro levels, you’re ready to dig into the meat of N++. There are hundreds of brand new levels created for N++, including some challenge levels, and a series of Legacy courses selected from previous N titles. Even after hours of playing for this review, I barely scratched the surface, and that’s just the solo content.

Alongside the single-player mode are co-op and race modes, both with their own set of levels to complete. Co-op can be played with up to four players locally, providing for some insane situations to overcome. Race mode is also interesting, giving players the rush of trying to beat their friends to the finish line. Unfortunately, these modes are limited to local play, with no option to play online with friends that might be living across the globe. It’s one of the few disappointing factors found in N++.

If you finish all of the levels found in the single-player and still want more, no worries, N++ has you covered. Metanet has added a level creator for fans to make their own levels, which you can download if you want more out of N++. The highlights of the experience are definitely found in the levels created by the developers, but the levels created by fans offer a nice change of pace. If you’re an individual that enjoys creating their own levels, the creation studio will be up your alley.

The soundtrack featured in N++ is worth mentioning just because of how well the music selection fits this type of game. N++‘s soundtrack is comprised of a slew of electronic music, licensed by various artists and labels. Every track just fits the game’s design and feel. The upbeat patterns of an electronic soundtrack is matched perfectly with N++‘s gameplay. Players can choose which tracks they want to listen to, at any time, through the game’s menu. You can also change the color scheme of the levels, too. The soundtrack is yet another plus for the game.

Metanet Software really thought of everything to add to N++, without losing the focus of simple, yet complex gameplay mechanics that made the original N so beloved. N++ fills your glass with content and has enough left for an unlimited amount of refills until you can’t contain any more. Besides the lack of online play, N++ is exactly what I imagine a flash-inspired game to be like in 2017. If you enjoy tough 2D platformers and are up for a good challenge, you’re in for a treat with N++. I give it two pluses.

Final Verdict:
N++ is a worthy successor to the best flash games of the mid-2000s. It never forgets its roots while providing a wealth of content and new features.

[Note: This product was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.]

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