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It would be easy to simply bitch and moan over the fact that N started life as a free, downloadable internet game. Why should these people expect us to fork over almost 10 bucks for something they were giving away not that long ago?
OK, that’s fair. But if you don’t want to fork over those Microsoft points, you’ll be missing out on an absolutely fantastic upgrade to the original game, complete with four-person multiplayer modes, hundreds of puzzles, and a full level editor.
The idea behind N+ is a simple one. You’re a ninja. A ninja with a 90-second life span. Within those 90 seconds, you have to run through five different levels, collecting gold, making spectacular leaps, and avoiding all sorts of dastardly, death-dealing machines and mines. Bounce off walls, slide down solid surfaces, and generally learn to use the game’s physics engine to your advantage.
That’s what N+ really is, an exercise in physics. Mastering the somewhat floaty movements of your little on-screen avatar is what your success hinges on.
Though the visuals are very simplistic (an homage to the game’s roots), the game has loads of personality. From the rag doll reactions when your ninja gets squished, shot, pancaked, whatever; to the clever classic gaming references hidden throughout the game. Look for a level that’s surprisingly similar to Final Fantasy’s Cactuar, or check out the description of the “Thwump” enemy for a history lesson in Italian plumbers.
And even if you get through all of these levels quickly, you’ll still have both single-system and online multiplayer to mess around with, not to mention the game’s level creator, which is easy to use. Plus, look for downloadable level packs in the near future.
N+ may not look like much, but it’s fun and addictive. It definitely deserves a place in your Live Arcade library.
Feb 25, 2008