N+ Review

They say there is beauty in simplicity, and that is exactly the philosophy that SilverBirch Studios aims to capitalize upon with their portable adaptation of Metanet Software’s ninja platform/puzzle IP. N+ was originally a freeware flash game (entitled, simply, N), but was ported to Xbox Live Arcade early this year. Now, a ground-up version of the game has found what seems the proper home for such incremental, small-dose gameplay–the PSP.

The game is divided up into small, single-screen levels, through which players must use the momentum-based and super-responsive control system to navigate, collecting golden nuggets from a web of mines, lasers, machine gun turrets, homing missiles, and a variety of other nasty obstacles on their way to the exit. The only tools at the ninja’s disposal are his ability to run, jump, and kick off/slide down walls, but those skills are enough to be successful, and have fun (and/or get addicted to) doing it.

Dying in N+ is less a final destination than a short pause in the action, which, along with the against-the-grain minimalist graphical style helps to present a wholly different gaming experience than many of the big-budget, cinematic productions of the current generation of games. A short ragdoll explosion of ninja parts all over the place, and you’re right back to the start of the level. N+ is about gameplay, plain and simple–and it works oh so well.

The simplicity of the game’s level design, with its grayscale palette (or slightly more elaborate “plus” motif) and clean lines lend N+ to extensive user customization via the included level editor. Here, it is possible for anyone, from the award-winning artist to the least creative kid in class, to create interesting and challenging arenas to play in, and then share them with the rest of the gaming community.

Unfortunately, the online bits of the game are limited to uploading and downloading custom levels, with multiplayer restricted to local-only play. Ad-hoc multiplayer offers up a handful of game types such as Tag, Race, Domination (collecting gold reduces opponent’s time), and others, with 100 cooperative and 50 competitive levels to navigate in tandem. While these certainly augment the game’s 200-stage single-player experience, N+ would have been more complete and longer-lasting had online play been included.

N+ is a blast, and is perfect for the PSP. It’s easy to jump into a game, complete a few levels, and then jump out in a matter of minutes. At higher difficulty levels, a well-trained hand is required to achieve one’s goals and extract the maximum appreciation for the title. Being able to create and share custom levels is a huge plus, but I question whether this game is worthy of a higher price tag ($19.99) than all existing versions (curse the cost of physical media). Either way, N+ retains a solid core of refined gameplay that all gamers should enjoy.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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