After seven years of obscurity, the latest installment of everyone's favourite physics-based ninja platformer has finally emerged. This version has more content than you can shake a fistful of gold at, but was it worth the wait?
For the unfamiliar, N++ is played by controlling a tiny ninja in order to collect as much gold as you can then make it to the exit. You score according to how much time you have remaining by the end of each set of levels and you gain time for each collected piece of gold so you must regularly ask yourself if it's worth the risk. The controls are incredibly simple since you only need to run and jump. However, being able to master the precision, timing, and physics involved will require you to be a gaming ninja. Your ability to run and jump solely depends on momentum. If you run up a slope then immediately jump off a wall then you'll go a lot higher than if you just jumped off the wall from a standing position. Because the physics involved are so intricately and ingeniously implemented, you'll need a great deal of practice to learn how to gain and keep momentum and strike the perfect balance in order to avoid your always imminent death.
N++'s visuals are minimalistic and portrayed in a way that makes gameplay both clear and stylish. You can always see the full level on the screen which allows you to devise a plan before you challenge it. The contrast between backgrounds, platforms, obstacles, and your ninja is spot-on and this allows you to undoubtedly know what's ahead. Even during multiplayer, each player's light bar changes to the colour of their character. The included music matches the basic graphics with clicky beats and glitchy grooves. It really is an outstanding soundtrack and there are plenty of satisfying and suitable sound effects to accompany it. Overall, N++ looks and sounds minimalist and stylish while also managing to complement the gameplay in almost every conceivable way.
You'd think there couldn't possibly be more than a hundred levels with such awesome physics-based platforming. However, the amount of content in N++ is astounding. There are hundreds of episodes to play through and each episode contains five levels. These episodes are divided into an introductory section (where you can learn the fundamentals) and groups of both new and legacy episodes. Don't think that it's just up to you to gather gold since you can invite up to three friends to join you either cooperatively or in a race. Sadly, there is only local multiplayer which is disappointing since there are a ton of episodes and I can't imagine that the average person who's interested in this would have adequately skilled ninja friends. On the plus side, there is an intuitive level editor (that you can also play with friends). If the hundreds of available levels aren't enough then you could always check out some cool stuff from the community.
After playing for hours over the past couple of days, there are two issues that I find difficult to ignore. The first is when hidden traps (which could be as simple as a spike hidden behind a block of gold) would end my life. Of course, there are ways to circumvent these unseen dangers, but the fact that they exist means that memorization is sometimes necessary. The second issue is that, although the gameplay is undeniably fantastic, it just isn't varied enough to stay interesting for long play sessions. Sure, there are plenty of diverse levels, but you basically do the same thing in all of them. If there were some mini-games or bonus levels that differentiated themselves enough to provide relief from the intense difficulty then it would have made this a much more balanced experience.
N++ is a must-download title for any gamer who enjoys a challenge. With loads of content and incredibly intuitive gameplay all wrapped in one stylish package, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better way to train to be a ninja master.
- + Stylishly minimalistic visuals and audio
- + Perfect physics-based platforming gameplay
- + Oodles of content that'll keep you thoroughly entertained for days upon days
- - Hidden traps make for unfair deaths
- - Could use a little more variety to break up the otherwise intense gameplay
- - No online multiplayer