Review: N++ (Xbox One)
- Release Date (NA): April 10, 2017
- Release Date (EU): April 10, 2017
- Release Date (JP): April 10, 2017
- Publisher: Metanet Software
- Developer: Metanet Software
- Genres: Platformer
- ESRB Rating: Everyone 10 and up
- PEGI Rating: Seven years and older
- Also For: Nintendo Switch
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Fluid motion, agility, speed and style: N++ is a 2D representation of the ever-popular urban sport that is parkour. This game oozes futurism with its wipeout-esqe minimal thumping soundtrack, brash icons, and simplistic tonal color palette, but in a world full of platform games, how does it rank today?
N++ is grounded in a reality that is a far cry from its platforming roots; you would never see Mario or Luigi plummet to their death from an unrealistically long fall onto solid land, but this game is different... You explode! While you are granted a near-infinite number of lives to complete your ninja episodes, you also have to learn certain fundamentals. These include your 90 second lifespan to finish each level, having to collect as much gold as you can for extra time, and that you touching pretty much anything, aside from the pre-established safe elements such as the floor, will lead to your imminent explosion into a cloud of rag-doll stick-man body parts.
Littered with mines, electricity, missiles, and laser beams, you start out rather timidly in a simplistic race to the goal with the added meta element of collecting gold. As the learning curve starts to kick in you will find yourself doing mid-air bullet-time like death defying dodges and mind bending precision timed technical maneuvers to gather speed and perpetuate your fluidity of motion. Lose any momentum and it's like trying to force Sonic The Hedgehog through a loop-de-loop from a standing start; it's just not happening.
The levels are split into difficulties which are then subdivided into sets of five stages, each requiring ever-increasing levels of concentration and tactical thinking to complete. Gunning for the top spots is no fluke, it takes the patience and drill training of a seasoned player to truly master this game. Don't forget to employ the mood button to find the color scheme that helps bring you the most clarity; this is a game changer and really emphasizes the exacting fidelity required in some stages.
Controlling the game is ultra-simplistic with left analog stick for direction and A to jump. String together jumps, wall hops, rebounds, and well-timed slides and you have a versatile repertoire of moves at your disposal without frying your brain attempting to memorize hundreds of buttons and combos. There are no set rules as to how to play, it's all about reconnaissance before pressing A to begin and scouting around the the stages, discovering the best method possible to traverse them in as little time and with as few incongruous moves as possible. You can be as unorthodox as you wish and try out some intensely crazy tactics—they might just work!
N++ features quite possibly the most crowded home screen I have ever seen in terms of options. There are plenty of ways to play, including Solo, Hardcore, Co-op, and Race for starters. On top of these, there are the creation and browser modes, both of these truly elevate the overall experience to another level. So much to do and so very few hours in the day!
Creation mode is the Super Mario Maker of its day, with quite possibly centillions of possible permutations. This intricate crucible is a double-edged sword of frustrating non-intuitiveness, but ultimately brilliant satisfaction thanks to the unbelievable creativity allowed to make something ingeniously clever, or brain-burningly challenging, for others to attempt and hopefully master. You can lose hours forming tricky mazes of torment, roller coasters of pain, uber-precise bouncathons with zero room for error and no forgiveness; it's entirely your choice, and it's completely and utterly addictive.
Browse mode allows you to interact with other players' Solo/Co-op/Race styled creations, and are cleverly sorted into easy to dissect categories. From the best, to the hardest, those by your friends, or even the currently-featured, you'll always find there's something out there for you to play, even now two years after the game's launch.
The main menu also offers a visually pleasing stats display, a handy help guide, options (which includes color blind modes), credits, the option to switch profile, and most perplexingly of all, a single page "Story" which outlines the wheres, whys, and whos behind the ninja you play as.
All in all there is plenty to feast your eyes on and plenty to get stuck into with a game that offers both creativity in play-style and creativity creation. A stunning example of how a simple concept can be expanded upon ad-infinitum, N++ encourages and caters for platform lovers at every level, and hones them all into hardcore highly skilled Ninjutsu warriors in next to no time. N++ is quite simply a must have for anybody with an adoration for this genre, and being available on every modern console, including a more recent Switch port, there really is no excuse not to ninja-jump onto this gem of a game.
+ Incredible create mode.
+ Cooperative 4 player gaming.
+ Highly competitive networked scoring system.
- No randomly generated levels.
- Repetitive sound track.
Slick simplistic visuals keep the action easy to read until it ramps up and goes haywire with huge numbers of elements and enemies on screen at once with no sign of slowing down. The color-play is also very well implemented, using opposing palettes to make the game readable and intuitive on screen at all times.
If you're competitive, you will find this game straight-up outstanding, offering a multitude of methods to keep you hooked and hold your unreasonably high scores over friend and foe alike. Precision is key in cultivating momentum, and the simple yet perfectionist method of controlling the wall-jumps and landings you require makes this a compelling challenge from the get-go.
With a creation toolset at your fingertips this game should endure as you craft ever-cunning mazes of skill and torture for your friends to compete on. There is an undulating current that pulls you back in time and time again to both improve your times, and hone the skills necessary to master the way of the N and "++" every level.
out of 10
(not an average)
Slick, challenging, and well-developed: N++ is a game with style, grace, and cunning that is worthy of your reactions and brainpower. Give it a shot!