The Floaty Stick Figure Ninja Is Back For More
When N+ hit PCs back in 2004, fans clambered to the floaty ninja action platformer. Eventually ported to Xbox 360 Arcade, Nintendo DS and even PSP in 2008, Metanet Software’s wall jumper was well received on all platforms. Almost a decade later, N++ is the next entry in the single screened series but is it the sequel fans have patiently been waiting for?
N++ is essentially N+.5 as opposed to an entirely new entry. Using what seems as the same floaty physics as the original, the goal of N++ is still the same – reach the goal within a short time limit while making crazy jumps as a stick figure ninja guy, avoiding traps, hazards, and enemies along the way while hitting switches to unlock doors. Even though N++ isn’t really anything we have not seen before, I still had a blast playing as the floaty stick figure ninja.
The emphasis of this sequel is the optional local only co-op mode. Up to four players can work together to complete each meticulously constructed multiplayer stage. Teamwork is required, as players will often need to sacrifice themselves along the way to meet the end goal of finishing a stage. It is an interesting mechanic and most stages are carefully designed to highlight this feature.
Outside of the hundreds of campaign and co-op stages, Race mode is also available for multiple players. The goal here is simple – first one to reach of the goal wins. Once the goal is reached, the winner is rewarded by controlling a single rocket to blast the remaining players. Like controlling the ninja, piloting these missiles take some getting use to thanks to the floaty, loose physics. There is also a Hardcore mode in which the timer constantly depletes instead of resetting upon death. This mode really is for master players, or if you just hate yourself a lot.
The overall presentation also deserves praise as it is thoughtfully integrated into the entire experience. As the player finishes batches of stages, new color themes and visual options become available. Using the trigger buttons, the player is free to scroll through various color themes as the game changes in real time without any lag, like switching original Gameboy swatches on the Super Nintendo’s Super Gameboy accessory. Also, fans might be concerned that the ninja lacks his super hero-like scarf upon first playing the campaign. In time, however, this cape, complete with its mesmerizing physics, become unlockable with new colors. Even when the game isn’t played, a computer controlled AI ninja jumps through stages in the background as you prep your options. In fact, it is entertaining just simply watching the computer play through some stages you most likely have never seen before. This simple feature is a nice touch and really provides a higher level of presentation values. N++ also prides itself with its extensive electronic soundtrack as well. Unfortunately, whenever the soundtrack switches to the next track while in game, it drops a few frames, resulting in a handful of annoyingly accidental deaths.
There are so many levels in N++ that players will need to sink dozens of hours, not to mention having a higher level of skill, to see them all. Along the way, there is an option to automatically upload your score to the online leaderboard as soon as each episode is completed. Without question, there are plenty of dedicated N+ fans out there as leaderboard competition is fierce on every single stage. This is only amplified by the fact that each stage contains optional gold coins that are usually difficult to grab but increase score. Despite the lack of online multiplayer, the built-in online leaderboards help create some hefty replay value.
Even if you do manage to clear the 100s of stages found in the full version, the level editor opens the door for infinite replay value. Thanks to intuitive controls and a slick interface, anyone can easily make stages and upload their content effortlessly. The interface is essentially a giant piece of graph paper and the player is free to place enemies, gold coins, and obstacles at will. This graph paper design is immediately recognizable so anyone can start making stages without any need for a tutorial. At the time of this review, there are already hundreds of player created stages to browse through. Sure, some are better than others but there is a search box to help find stages of your liking. If you’ve grown tired of Super Mario Maker, you might want to give N++ a shot.
It is hard to find anything too negative to say about N++. Although it is essentially more of the same, graphical style and all, there is a lot to love about this ninja jumping sequel. If you missed the original version all those years ago, N++ is probably a game you should check out as wall jumping and floaty physics do not get much better than this.
Wait For It: the next Super Meatboy
Better Than: Chicken Wiggle 3DS
Also Try: Arcade Archives Mario Bros. on Switch
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