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N++ Review

Release Date: October 4, 2017

Platform: Xbox One

Developer: Metanet Software

Genre: Platformer

ESRB Rating:  E10+ for Everyone 10+ (Mild Blood, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language)

MSRP: $14.99

N++ is a 2D-platformer that will test your skills and patience. The game is finally making its way onto Xbox One. In the game, you play as a nimble ninja running through courses collecting gold to extend your timer. Your ninja will be flying around avoiding obstacles that threaten to kill them. With each jump your heart will pound faster as another missile barely misses hitting you. It’s not over though because another one missile is heading straight for you. If your ninja makes it to the end of the level, you are rewarded with a leaderboard showing how you did against other players around the world. It can show you your personal bests, friend’s high scores, and a global leaderboard. Be prepared to see your ninja die in a multitude of ways because success is never guaranteed.

Running to the Beat

 

Starting the game, the first thing you will notice is soundtrack playing on the menu screen. I found myself sitting at the title screen just listening to the soundtrack when I first booted up the game. The soundtrack loses you in a melodic trance from the start of the game and doesn’t ever let go. This continues even when jumping through courses at breakneck speeds. Even after finishing a level, I would leave the game running to play the soundtrack while working on other things. The soundtrack’s titles can be found on the N++ official site.

Some small audio problems did occur though. One example can be when too many objects are colliding in the level. The most frequent occurrence was when my player would get pinned to the wall by an enemy. This would continually create collisions with my dead body and emitting noise. This created a combination of sounds that made me mute the game on a couple occasions. It would have helped having the sound cut after a death. Alternatively, the volume could have lowered after my death. The screeches were a constant reminder of my failure. Sounds from the level rarely outweighed the soundtrack. These are small annoyances that only detract a little from the audio. Otherwise, the audio is fantastic and helps propel the player to new heights.  Another aspect you will notice at the main menu is the art style.

Main menu screen

Simple but Well-Rounded

A random level will be displayed with a CPU controlled ninja trying to traverse the level. The art style has a very simple look that harkens back to Flash games of the past. It may even remind you of old stickman games or cartoons. This may turn some people away because it can be interpreted as simple. Don’t underestimate it because the art style lends itself well to the game. Too many things on screen would distract the player on later levels. Also, there is something funny about watching a stick figure plummeting to their demise. Or watching them being blown to bits by a laser.

Players also have the freedom to choose their own theme while playing or sitting in a menu. Only a select few themes are open at the beginning of the game. Themes control the color scheme for each level. The further you get into the game, the more you unlock, this is only a small part of the reward system. Another cosmetic option players’ can select from is the headband your ninja uses and the color of your ninja. This is useful especially for multiplayer so players don’t get confused by similar looking characters. Like themes, more headband and ninja colors become available as you play through the game. Simple customizations such as these make a great addition to the game and will keep player’s attention.

Soaring Through Death

N++ includes Solo, Co-op, Hardcore, and Race modes. In Solo, you are racing through the course as fast as you can to make it to the top of the leaderboard. You must run through a sensor located in the level to open the exit. The jumping physics feel great and float just enough to feel precise. Movement is based on the ninja’s momentum. If you run faster, you will have to start slowing down earlier. Gravity is also an important aspect to the gameplay. Your ninja can die if they hit the ground or ceiling too hard. Taking all this into account, I could reliably jump around courses and understood the game’s mechanics within seconds. My golden rule for a great platformer is that the player should rarely feel like their death is accidental. I died plenty of times but it was always because of a mistake I had made.

Some frustration came from the fact you couldn’t save part way through an episode. You must beat every course in an episode before quitting or else your progress won’t be save. Early on this isn’t an issue because you are getting through levels at a decent pace. Later in the game however, you may have to completely restart an episode if you get stuck or need to leave because of other priorities.

Humor can help a game and it helped my enjoyment of this game in particular.  I died during the introductory levels and received the “You Suck But That’s Okay” achievement. During the race mode, there is a we suck button that replaces the retry button. If you select it, the game will politely let you know that you suck.  Another achievement that led to some laughter is “Using Your Head”. I unlocked this by hitting the ceiling too hard.

Some of the humor in the game

Back into the Meat Grinder

N++ contains a massive number of episodes that you can play through. All three game modes include over 300 total episodes each. Every episode contains five courses. These can take some time to get through as the levels become increasingly harder as you play. A Hardcore option is also available if the Solo episodes were too easy.

An example of a user-created level in N++

If you happen to make it through all those courses, you can create your own nightmare for others to enjoy. Your friends can also help you create nightmares. The creation suite for the game is user friendly. You won’t spend too much time using it before you understand how it works. Creating a fun or creative level is up to the user’s imagination.

Next, the game includes a browser that allows players to view and play other user-created levels. These levels can range from achievable to insanity. One level I played contained numerous missile launchers among a minefield. Even if a player manages to beat the Solo campaign, there are still plenty of options to hold the player’s attention.

Your Friends Will Hate You

Couch co-op is included in the game. Unfortunately, online co-op is not supported. Since the development team is small, it is understandable that the game doesn’t include online play. Co-op courses require the players to work together to finish them. This leads to hilarious results as some players are forced to sacrifice themselves to win. A player may have to walk into a bomb to reveal the switch to open the door. Have fun with your friends trying to decide who must die. Only one player must finish, so hopefully you or one of your friends is willing to sacrifice their ninja. Multiple players can also compete on the Solo courses if you just want to see who can finish first.

Verdict – N++

Even though there was plenty of frustration playing through the game, I kept coming back to it. If you enjoyed Super Meat Boy or any other punishing platformers, you should check this one out. Now if you would excuse me, I need to go buy a new controller.

THE GOOD
Plenty of Modes available
Near-perfect platforming
Great soundtrack
Great gameplay
THE BAD
Saving progress can be a problem
9
Superb

Review Summary

N++ is a solid platformer that challenges but will have you keep coming back for more punishment.

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