End of. N+ - Retro Reflections - TBT

End of. N+ by developers SilverBirch Studios, Metanet Software and publisher Atari—Nintendo DS Throwback Thursday review written by Hamza. 2008.

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Not only is N+ difficult, but sarcastic as well. It’s Queen Elizabeth with tight-lipped irony. When you misjudge a jump, fall from a great height, or get struck down by a laser or bullet; the message reads “nice one.” Ported to the handheld, this version, PSP, and console Xbox, from the Adobe flash-powered game, simply titled N, it should not surprise or shock anyone by its feel and touch of an online-game. When you play other games on the aforementioned handhelds and console, they feel ‘real’, genuine – they were made for playing. N+, however, feels like an anti-game, just like how the other online, or casual, games are. You may be offended, o’ reader, but this is the impression they give me.

With nary an originality to boast of, N+ has a wickedly simple premise, but a devilishly difficult gameplay. You control a ninja, initially black, but new costumes are unlocked the more you progress. The new costumes don’t bring power-ups or speed, but style and respite from monotony. Your goal is simple; unlock the door and get to it to finish off the level. If this game were that simple, then it would’ve effectively been the opposite of what games are supposed to be about. You see, scattered throughout the levels are pieces of gold and a myth goes that the ninja you control has a short metabolism and a craving for gold. Though this game doesn’t have a timer, the closest it has to one is the ever-decreasing ‘health’ of the ninja. The more gold you collect, the more it will increase. Me thinks someone took the definition of ‘gold fever’ a little too literally.

With parkourmovements, you character can jump very high and scale walls. If Ninja Five-O were a physics-based game, then it would be this. The physics are very loose and the control of the character is very floaty. If you let go of the movement button, the ninja won’t stop immediately, but will slide a little more; just how Mario did in the GBC port of Super Mario Bros. This will result in unfair deaths or a snakes-and-ladders moment. Whether intentional or not, I did not thoroughly enjoy this effect and at many points in the game made me flare up in anger.

As I said before, this game isn’t original and long-time gamers will know it is a mixture of bygone platform and puzzle games, with chances being it was inspired by the names that immediately come to your head. Not that it is a complaint, but since I’d already played similar games with similar difficulty, N+ did not immediately strike a chord with me. Come to think about it now, it still doesn’t altogether strike a chord with me. This game’s other silhouette-heavy and minimal-in-heart cousins, Canabaltand Vector, struck the Hendrix Chord with me.

But I enjoyed what the game offered, and its borderline-intense challenge was a relief to me personally because I had lately been playing easy, casual games. With more than 200 levels and each level having 4 parts, N+ kept me muttering to myself, “just one more try. Just one more”; and though it rewarded me with merely a color change and some new animations, I was satisfied with what I got. Playing N+ was as if I was playing Char Studio’s Flow all over again. Both of these games hardly reward you, but you feel great when you clear a level!
While N+ does take good use of the the handheld’s dual-screen – one shows the action, the other the map – and has enough clever and intricate levels to give even the cast and crew of Inception a run for their money.

This game was indeed fun, and even with added features that come later the more you progress,N+ doesn’t reach to the level of addiction or cool. It’s a fun game, but only just. So, I guess what I’m trying to say isNinja Five-O’s protagonistis still the best ninja on a handheld!

Note: Screenshots from all platforms that were available at the time can be found here at Moby Games.

Score: 7.5 / 10



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