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N+ (PSP) artwork

N+ (PSP) review

"N+ seems kind of unremarkable at first, but the unique feel of its physics really makes it stand out "

This N+ review feels well-timed (or ill-timed, depending on how you look at it) with the recent release of N++ on PS4. I'm getting to hear all kinds of nice talk aboutN related stuff that applies quite well to N+ on the Playstation Blogcast and Big Sushi FM. I'm enjoying the recent coverage the N series is getting, and that's because I enjoyed my time with N+ a lot.

It's a 2d platforming game. The only thing you can do is jump and move. In each of the single-screen (or very close to it) levels, of which there are around 200, your ninja character must navigate obstacles and enemies to hit a switch that opens the exit door. Sounds very basic, I know, but N+ has a really unique feel. That's mainly due to the physics and the way the character behaves.

N+ has a big focus on momentum in a way no other platformer I've played before does. In many games, a running jump can get you further than a normal jump. This game takes that idea and...runs with it. If you are moving fast, you can jump drastically further and jump off walls at lightning speed. If you are moving slow, you'll find yourself jumping over and over to keep yourself clinging to a wall Mega Man X style. Momentum has its negative effects too. This is one of only a handful of 2d games I've played where a fall from a tall height will kill you. Unless of course you land on a curved surface that lets you channel all of that speed into running velocity or grab a wall at the last second to slow your fall enough so you won't die.

A lot of the game's levels seem impossible until you figure out how to use momentum to get through them. You might need to hit a switch that is way up in the air with no obstacles anywhere near it. You won't get anywhere jumping around directly to get it, but if you use some of the downhill slopes in the level to get some speed up and then ricochet off a few walls... boom! You are jumping higher and further than you imagined you could and hit the switch. Or maybe you need to hit some nearly loop-de-loop sets of curved surfaces to be able to leap that mine-covered wall without touching it. Other levels seem possible but slow paced until you realize that the level is actually designed for you to be able to run through it at top speed without dying.

Obstacles in N+ include mines and traps, often placed in just the right places to get you if you don't keep the flow of the level going. Enemies include drones that fly toward you at rapid speeds if they see you and turrets that launch missiles, bullets, and lasers at you. There are also drones that patrol in set patterns that you often have to accurately react to and read as you go. If you die, you instantly re-spawn. You will do this a lot. Some of the harder levels took me 60+ tries. That might sound frustrating, but those moments are some of the game's most fun. That's because often these hard levels are designed with such a great sense of flow and perfect placement that you want to get them just right, to feel the smoothness of a great run through them. These moments often become trance-like states of constantly dying and re-spawning, perfectly highlighted by....

...the game's stellar soundtrack (segue master). N+'s soundtrack is made up of all electronic music that is almost all terrific. These tracks are often very repetitive with short little loops of sounds and beats. These are punctuated by subtle and unsubtle changes that really start to stand out when you play a level for a long time, dying over and over as the loop plays over and over. And then, suddenly, the music might drop down to a super soft, subtle version of what it just was, only to slowly build up again. Each time you play a set of levels, you get a random track playing, and when you get a particularly hard and smooth set of levels and a particularly inspired background track to match, there is magic in the air.

N+ also features what seems to be a nice level editor. I played around with it for about 30 minutes and made a fun little level that I enjoyed playing. It has a great seamless test-mode where you just press select to instantly start playing the level. There are also multi-player modes that I didn't try out.

N+ seems kind of unremarkable at first, but the unique feel of its physics really makes it stand out once the levels start demanding that you understand the subtleties of moving your little ninja around. The pulsing soundtrack pushes you along. It's a short little romp, with the 200+ or – levels taking me just a few hours (+ or -) to beat, but it was worth the trip playing it a little bit at a time during my lunch breaks at work. It's very solid and well designed and I feel like it really added to the vocabulary of my 2d gaming skills, which always need expanding and honing for the next challenge. N+ is a 3 out of 5.


Robotic_Attack's avatar
Community review by Robotic_Attack (September 12, 2015)

Robotic Attack reviews every game he plays... almost.

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