Never has playing as a ninja made us feel both badass and vulnerable all at once. In n+, you don’t have any daggers of death or ninja stars to fling into the necks of unsuspecting enemies. Rather, you rely on your uncanny agility to sprint, leap and wall-jump though 200 of the deadliest levels ever concocted. It’s no wonder your rational fear of death and failure is exterminated within ten seconds.
Based on the free Flash game (and recently updated for Xbox Live), n+ chucks your stickman avatar into massive levels and expects you to escape within 90 seconds. Your goal is to essentially trigger a switch that opens the exit, while collecting (optional) gold. This treasure increases your time limit and unlocks extras like new costumes and victory animations.
These levels also double as environmental puzzles as they’re all rather ingeniously designed, no matter how excruciating later missions become and we mean that positively. Death is necessary for problem solving in the world of n+. We can’t tell you how many times we collected all the gold in a level and triggered the exit switch, only to plummet to our deaths because we forgot to wall-slide. Next time we play that section, we’ll definitely remember that. And if we don’t succumb to a misplaced leap of faith, maybe we’ll fall victim to any number of trip mines, lasers, rockets or turrets littering the levels.
And this brings us to our main complaint with n+ - the unstable difficulty. Sure, the game gets off by chipping away at your spirit, but a lot of the later levels don’t inspire replays. Gold is incidental in these stages. Once you’ve died close to forty times in one section, you’ll walk right by the currency and beeline straight to survival. Who needs cash when progression is much more important? It seems like the game was designed for only the masochistic to give a damn about completing the game 100%.
Multiplayer co-op and competitive matches are just as much fun as they were on XBLA with modes such as racing and tag to take part in. Still, the bread and butter of n+ is the single-player ninja action and while the game can be quite a frustrating slog, it never truly feels crushing.
Aug 26, 2008