Wednesday, September 10, 2008

N+ Review... Not a Score

Lo and behold, someone downloaded N+ onto the Xbox360 I'm currently borrowing. I played it as a free flash game, and now that it costs about 10 bucks, I think it's time for a flash review. Shorter than a bullet point review, these things are over in a.....

  • A platformer with little else to distract from platforming.
  • JUMP, WALL SLIDE, WALL KICK, MOVE to maneuver around each level.
  • The gold pieces aren't Mario Coins. Don't be fooled. They don't significantly effect gameplay at all.
  • When jumping, the character can move horizontally much faster than he can ascend vertically. This makes most of the basic level design layouts horizontal.
  • Most of the levels are almost nothing. Perhaps, 1/6 are worth mentioning. Not much variation. The enemies offer some variety, but the lack of interplay severely limits their functionality. Without the interplay, there's not much available to build layers for counterpoint.
  • Looks like a flash game. Plays like a flash game. Though the flash game was/is free, I feel that 10 bucks is worth the extra multiplayer modes, level editor, and online play.
  • In the grand scheme of platformers I've covered on this blog, N+ is at the very bottom. I won't be spending any more time with this game. I'd rather play Super Princess Peach.
  • Oh, did I mention you play as a Ninja? *shrugs* NINJA VANISH!



Daniel Purvis said...

I believe the only way I can describe that review is "sharp".

Your little summaries are generally spot on, dude.

KirbyKid said...

@ Daniel Purvis


I'm trying to find the balancing between hitting the points without saying too much, covering all the interesting things I can think of, and keeping the whole thing entertaining.

Mike R. said...

Actually, you can move vertically quite fast. The trick is to kick off of walls and not let yourself grip and slide. You can actually move faster vertically than horizontally this way.

It took me a month of playing to figure it out. The game has an odd physics system.

Daniel Purvis said...


I think you're beginning to nail it. Would like to see your summaries of some more complex games to see how well they do.

KirbyKid said...

@ Mike R.

We're both right.

I was talking specifically about the basic JUMP mechanic. But...

When WALK KICKing, the player can climb more quickly as you described.

I'm glad you brought that up.

Anonymous said...

you know that the gold adds time to your lifespan, right? That's not necessarily trivial, especially in later levels.

how long did you play? Did you try co-op multiplayer? that was my favorite part.

raigan said...

Wow.. you'd prefer Super Princess Peach?! One of the most bland, boring, slow-moving, tedious platformers ever??!

This could be the most insulting, derogatory comment ever made about N!

raigan said...

Also, I do feel like you've overlooked the levels in which the objects' uses are somewhat subverted -- for instance the level where you have to keep a rocket alive on your tail while you navigate the level.

I don't know.. I really thought our level designs were well-honed!

Anonymous said...

they are well-honed. don't let people who don't them get you down.

uberlis said...

@ raigan
I liked that level too, thought of that when reading this post.

kirbykid, I love what you write, but N+ kept me entertained for a long time before I got bored or anything like that. In fact, I got bored while playing SPPeach.

KirbyKid said...

@ anonymous
Considering how a skilled player generally has plenty of time to complete the levels, collection the gold to extend time isn't that big of a deal. Also,in most cases I've found that you have to do make a point of avoiding the gold rather than collect them as you go along. On top of that, the gold resets with the level after dying. So, even if in the later levels, grabbing the gold is more necessary for survival, these reasons still hold back its function design wise.

@ Raigan

About Super Princess Peach... Don't be fooled by the pink, frilly exterior. At least 50% of the core design is the same as Super Mario Brothers. This means that there are some moments that mirror/reflect the gameplay of the platforming titans that are the 2d Mario games.

I'm planning on writing a review of sorts of Super Princess Peach soon. But even before I do, without thinking you should be able to deduce that Super Princess Peach has more variation/dynamics/and interplay in its core design. N+ has a much simpler core which means the novelty of it all can wear off pretty quickly. Also consider that N+ doesn't have enough interplay to create layers of counterpoint. Without this, the gameplay can quickly grow stale.

If you still think my comment was derogatory or rash, I can elaborate further. Just let me know.

Also, don't get me wrong. Many of the levels are well honed. But considering the variation limitations in the core design, with tons of levels in the game, each level can't provide something unique. Because of the way the JUMP and WALK KICK mechanics work, the minimum degree of difference is much larger than in a game like Super Mario Brothers. For this reason, the levels are generally created larger to begin to develop its variation.

In the end, some levels are very creative. Some are almost mindless, nearly completing themselves. While a good number are simply too similar to each other.

Are you one of the game's designers? I'm very interested in continuing a conversation with you if you are.

@ anonymous2

I hope I'm not getting anyone down. I'd rather critique, communicate, and explain than simply run over a game and ignore the reception. So if there are still questions about anything, feel free to ask.


Liking one game over the other is just a matter of opinion/preference. But as I've done before and will continue to expound upon in the near future, Super Princess Peach has it's issues, but I enjoy the core design better because it has more dynamics/interplay/and variation than N+.

Raigan said...

Yeah, I'm one of the two people who made N; our email is here:

"Super Princess Peach has more variation/dynamics/and interplay in its core design. N+ has a much simpler core which means the novelty of it all can wear off pretty quickly. Also consider that N+ doesn't have enough interplay to create layers of counterpoint. Without this, the gameplay can quickly grow stale."

I think the problem with this sort of analysis is that you're overlooking second-order "actions", which is what N is all about. My main dislike with SPP (aside from the fact that the platforming is of the very slow-paced, non-actiony type) is the way they heaped on lots of extra abilities.. that just gets tedious (like Super Paper Mario, where several of your "friends" are essentially nothing but keys).

If you look at Gish, there are 4 "actions" a player can execute (heavy, sticky, slippery, jump) in addition to moving, but they can be combined in various ways, letting the player "perform" moves.

N is like this too, but much more simplified -- while it only uses 3 buttons and the actions are run and jump, the way that momentum works means that the context of jumps matters -- for instance the "double jump" which is jumping from a hill to a wall, then immediately jumping off the wall.

There's also the way that enemies are used, for in instance "Cutting In" (I think 32-4) you need to navigate through a group of drones, first going against their movement direction, then going with their movement direction. Each direction is quite a different experience (the latter is much harder); additionally, you can choose to approach them in either horizontal "hallway" or vertical "chute" sections.

N has elements of "racing game" in that ultimately it's about developing an intuition concerning your momentum, slipping, etc. In this way it's much more like SMB than SPP, because it's about mastering the control of your character. SPP has basically no "physics"-type mechanics, it's more of an action-adventure.. the movement is slow, it's not very challenging. Then again I stopped playing after beating the first ridiculous "elastic-band touch-screen" section and realizing it was only going to get worse from there ;)

KirbyKid said...

@ Raigan

I will definitely respond to your last post via email (hopefully tomorrow). That should make our exchange a bit easier.