N++ [official site] is a fun, momentum-based ninja platformer featuring guns, mines, fall damage and ingenious level design.
From the first time I have played them I have loved N and N+, as I do most other platforming games. They have a special place in my heart. They also reserved a spot for N++, which I have looked forward to for a very long time. Though of course, this wouldn’t be a review if it was biased, so I’ve had them surgically removed from my heart to extend my honesty to the maximum. Let’s get into it.
First off, I would like to outright state that I don’t regret dropping the $15 one bit. My experience with the game so far has been brilliant and upon first playing it, the scar left by the surgery to remove N and N+ from my heart was immediately ripped back open and the empty void was filled with Metanet’s newest creation.
All metaphors aside, I am thoroughly enjoying the game.
Be sure to not hit the mines!
The game is – as stated above – based on momentum. Sometimes you need to get a run up on a jump, sometimes you need to keep your momentum or else you’ll fall to your inevitable death or sometimes it’s just a case of keeping the rhythm to complete a level as fast as possible. If you fail a jump you are forced to endure the death of your character in an exploding manner, stick figure body parts flying everywhere.
The basic backstory is that you are a running, wall-jumping, coin-collecting ninja. That is all there is when it comes to anything narrative – pretty much nothing. Not that a backstory is needed, I just thought you might want to know that there isn’t much there. If you are looking for a deep, harrowing story with plot twists and main character deaths at every corner, you should probably go and watch Game of Thrones, you won’t be disappointed.
Jumping from a platform in an attempt to make it to the door – it didn’t work!
N++ keeps the previous two N games’ simple art style, whilst somehow changing it enough to give it a completely new feel. There are different ‘skins’ that can be chosen from which change the art style from the classic grey to red on dark red, neon colours on jet black, white on pink, etc., altering the look of the game slightly but impressively.
The sound effects are similar to the previous two games, giving a feeling of nostalgia when a missile is launched at me or a ground laser zapping findy windy thingy shoots itself across the floor on its journey to cause as much damage as it can to me, making its classic ‘beep beep’ sound. There is also a small soundtrack with beats by numerous artists – and by small I mean very small. You can choose to skip any of the songs and through the game settings the music can easily be turned off to allow you to listen to the latest One Direction album or the hottest new Justin Bieber single – hey, I’m not judging, I’m just here to play games and write reviews.
The levels are where the game truly redeems itself and makes it worth the money in my eyes – it is a crucial part of any game to have great level design and if there isn’t much possibility, then lots of levels will hopefully make up for it. This game has both of them, with around 2,000 hand crafted levels (split across the different game modes) created by Metanet and many more submitted by the community through its custom level creator and publisher. The vanilla levels are presented in ‘episodes’, each containing five levels which can sometimes get tedious, especially when trying to master the harder levels and having to quit, then having to replay all of the levels in the episode again just to get to the level you want to play. One quick tip: advance through Metanet’s levels downward, not across.
Metanet’s solo episode list under the N++ section (I progressed across, it was a bad idea as the levels got very hard very fast).
Some of the levels have sneaky twists, where you might see a coin but a deadly button lies beneath, so you have to edge a tiny bit closer to it to snatch the coin without triggering the button which will make a box appear around you. Lots of the co-op levels also require for at least two people to survive as one person may have to sacrifice their life on a mine in order to open up a path for the other.
If you like to finish a game 100% with all missions, side missions and every collectible taken, you would feel right at home with N++, because as an optional side quest you can choose to collect every coin from all of the levels. This can take hours to complete one episode whilst making sure you have stolen each coin from the levels, especially when you get to the later levels and they get much more difficult, but as soon as you have accomplished this feat you will have major bragging rights.
There are currently three game modes: ‘solo’, where you play the extraordinarily large number of levels by yourself – the classic N++ experience without falling out with your friends. Then there is ‘co-op’, basically what you would expect – playing the special co-op levels with up to three mates (four people altogether), working together in order to complete them. Lastly there is ‘race’, a very fun relationship destroying mode where you compete against your friends in order to reach the end of each level whilst collecting as many coins as you can before they do. Be careful in this mode, because although you can respawn as many times as you need, if one of your friends complete the level you only have one life, and you lose your coins if you don’t live, so make it count!
Playing with a friend on the ‘race’ game mode. Obviously I won.
In the level creator you can place any and all of the used pieces from the solo, co-op and race levels, be they blocks, weapons, buttons or coins, wherever you wish. You can make tricky levels, you can make easy levels, you can even be evil and surround a gold coin in mines so that the user who plays the level cannot complete it with all coins obtained. You will lose all your friends and any ‘street cred’ that you have though, so I suggest you don’t do this, which leads to my next point.
Something that bothered me was the way there isn’t any form of level verification or any way to make sure the level is possible before being uploaded to the massive user-created level collection. It would be great if there was something similar to the likes of Mario Maker where you had to play and complete your own level just to make sure it isn’t impossible. Besides the ‘featured’ section which seems to be monitored, anyone can upload anything and it gets annoying scrolling through the list and trying to find some that are half decent.
Playing a custom level brewed up by another player – the level in this image was actually quite good.
There is currently no online multiplayer in N++ which is a major opportunity missed out on by the developers. It’s a thing most games have these days, and it is quite disappointing that one of the biggest platformers of this year doesn’t support it. Although there is single-screen co-op, for those people who don’t have many friends in real life, (come on, be honest), it would have been good to have some way of playing with other random gamers and people that we have met over the internet.
These are small issues that only have a very little impact on the actual game itself. I have played and enjoyed it for just under 20 hours so far and haven’t even gotten half-way through the massive collection of levels – I can’t say that about many games (besides any made by Bethesda of course).
To summarise, I do not regret for one minute paying the money for N++. It has been a great privilege playing this game and if you have played and enjoyed other platformers or are generally interested in any other games of the genre, I urge you to check it out. It’s a marvelous masterpiece.
👍 N++ IS worth the US$15 it is available for.