Having never played N or N+ before, never mind N++, I didn't really know what to expect. In fact when I first loaded up the game and laid eyes on it, I thought I'd loaded up the Commodore 64 by mistake, however while this game may look quite basic from the off, it's both challenging and a whole lot of fun, as well as being packed to the absolute limit with level upon level.
For those, like me, who have never experienced N or N+ before, it's easily explained as you playing as a Ninja who must traverse a series of rooms, avoiding obstacles along the way and trying to hit the switch which opens the door to the exit. There are five rooms in each level, all of which provide different tests as you use a mixture of mental awareness and skill to get to the end, while racing against the 90 second clock that is always ticking ever closer to zero.
As you play though each level you'll try to collect gold which will help boost your score on the leaderboard. High scores are really where the game comes into its own as you try to one up everyone from your friends to those perfectly skilled strangers who always seem to get perfect scores which beat you own, no matter how well you think you have done.
Controls are fairly easy to get used to, with the D-Pad, X for jump and triangle for retry, controlling your every move. Rooms are fairly minimal, having you jump off walls or over chasms; jump too high and you'll splat into a thousands pieces, likewise if you hit the bomb-like obstacles or run into many of the other dangers placed throughout the various rooms. Do you collect gold to buy yourself time and points or head to the exit? There's choices to be made, but it just depends how desperate you are for a high score.
N++ may look basic but it offers smooth and slick gameplay, all backed up by a pretty fantastic soundtrack, all of which adds to the atmosphere and keeps you coming back for more. Of course it also helps that in single-player mode there are around 1000 levels, each of which offer unique and challenging gameplay, although not too difficult that you'll be bald from pulling your hair out at the end of it.
In addition to playing on your own, the game also offers a co-op mode, allowing you to team up with a friend and play in a completely different set of levels. In co-op only one of you will need to make it to the exit, which means teamwork and even some self sacrifice is the order of the day.
Want more? Well the developers have also included a level editor, which is very easy to use, allowing you to upload your own levels or even download others, either by exploring or using the ‘Featured’ section, which offers a pick of the best. Given that there are already countless levels being made, on top of the 1000+ which already exist at launch, you can bet that you'll never run out of new experiences when playing N++.
It's true that N++ isn't a looker, but the real value here comes in the gameplay and the sheer amount of effort that has went into making sure that each level is meticulously designed to offer players a good challenge and a fun way to pass the time. Controls and graphics may be simple, but N++ is a game that will always keep you coming back for more.
Words by Joe Anderson.
Twitter: @_wotta | PSN/XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS4)
+ Packed with levels
+ Level editor is great
+ Co-op mode offers different style of play
- Not really a looker / quite basic