N+ - PSP - Preview
You’re a super ninja. You’re on the run. You’re made to infiltrate, get out and be done. You are a character seen not only as a silhouette but is someone the player will never forget. You are the star of N+, an action/adventure puzzle game that takes the very best in short-but-brilliant level design and combines them with the quick, perfectly refined controls the genre is known for delivering. This genius game has been gaining attention ever since it landed on Xbox Live Arcade. Next month it’ll hit PSP and Nintendo DS – each with an exclusive set of levels.
Have you ever played a game and thought, “Well, if only I could perform [another kind of move], this would be so much fun.” That doesn’t happen in N+. It isn’t overwhelming with moves or complexities. But as a ninja, this unnamed character can do everything that’s necessary: jump ridiculously high, slide down walls (to break his fall), kick himself off any wall (to climb them, even if only one wall is available), and land with precision that’s based solely on the sensitivity of the player’s thumb.
These moves are instantly seamless and are all you need to get through the game’s hundreds of single- and multiplayer stages. Actually accomplishing that goal, however, is easier said than done. While most players should get through the first 10 stages in 10 minutes or less, N+ is essentially a virus – the one you want to catch. Symptoms are minor in the beginning, but by the time you’re in the thick of it, you will wonder if some of these stages truly can be finished.
Leap across these pillars, hit the green gem in the middle to open the exit gate,
and try to make it to the bottom right (where the gate lies) without falling straight down.
That’s because, unlike the average action/adventure, N+ is somewhat of an arcade game in the way it’s presented. The old-school graphics are only part of it – each stage was designed to be an individual and standalone, thought-provoking challenge. You do not collect stars, jiggies, or rings. You won’t fight an end boss or fire a single projectile. This game is all about the one-way experience that’s derived from each level, where players’ only goal is to reach the exit. It may be locked or may be wide open, but the challenge is extreme either way. Continues are unlimited, so players may tackle a stage as much as they please. As of this writing, my depressing record is 159 tries (the game keeps track) – all of which were necessary to finish just one excruciating stage.
What is it about this game that could have possibly held me back that many times? Hidden in the depths of these screenshots are bombs (tiny red pixels), ninja-seeking traps (silver-colored half-circles), gravity (high jumps will lead to instant death unless your fall is somehow broken), missiles, lasers, and other hazards that’ll make you wonder, “Is this a training device for secret agents or a VR simulator from Mission: Impossible?”
In that respect, N+ is wonderfully crazy. These stages are, by all accounts, some of the shortest ever created for a video game. If you were an expert, you could probably beat 100 of them in less than an hour. But they are too difficult, too surprising, and too overpowering for anyone else to be that lucky. And when you consider that these stages are exclusive to the PSP edition, no one will be that lucky.
If the plethora of developer-created levels aren’t enough, how about making your own? N+ comes with a great level editor that lets you design your own stages with the same architectural elements found within the main game. You’re limited to 200 objects, and one object equals one small square within the PSP’s viewing area. Though it would’ve been cool to have unlimited editing capabilities, it’s unlikely that you’ll need the full 200 objects to create most of the environments you envision.
This dragon is littered with bombs that are easy to run into, leading to untimely deaths.
Set for release in just a few short weeks, N+ is already a can’t-miss gem. If you have the Xbox edition, then you know this game has the potential to be the perfect handheld time-killer. And if you’re new to the series, brace yourself: this pint-sized action/puzzler will rock your world.