N+ is one of the newest additions to the Xbox Live Arcade. N+ is the Xbox Live version of the popular N game found for free on the net. It combines action with puzzle solving, and don’t forget, you have to beat the clock too. So if you’re ready for some hard thinking let’s dive into the world of the puzzle solving ninja.
If you’ve ever been online before playing games, I’m sure you’ve ran into a game called N, which stands for “the way of the ninja”. But if you’ve never played this game before have a seat and everything will be explained. You are a ninja, with no weapons, no special kicks or neck chops, you’re only weapon is the ability to jump, and have plenty of control while in the air. Like most ninja’s though you only have a lifetime of 90 seconds and a need to collect gold (trust me, ninjas love gold and have short lives). But obviously with the levels in the game, which at times involve a lot of planning and thinking, you’ll need to increase your life.
You start with 90 seconds on the clock and each level includes 5 sublevels, and it is impossible to complete all 5 sublevels in 90 seconds, this is where your thirst for gold comes in. With each gold block collected an extra 2 seconds is added to your life, and if you collect them strategically enough you should have no problems completing levels. But your trip through levels includes more than just a key to open a door and the door; you’ll also find some enemies along the way. Don’t be expecting other ninjas to fight you, seeing as you have no defense, instead the levels are filled with land mines, gun and rocket turrets, moving balls of electricity and a few other traps.
Once you jump into the game and start single player mode you are thrown into the action immediately. There’s absolutely no story to this game, and the only point is to get from point A to point B trying not to get blown apart into a few pieces and not letting time run out. With 250 levels you’re sure not to get bored very fast, but instead frustrated. In each mission set there are 5 levels, each level includes 5 sublevels; I really hope that wasn’t confusing. As the game progresses the levels get extremely difficult and you’ll find yourself fighting with the time instead of the enemies. A nice feature about the single player is that the time remaining after each 5 sublevels is uploaded to an Xbox Live leaderboard so you can see how you stack up against others. Aside from that the single player isn’t filled with much of anything except some good old fashion frustration.
The multiplayer in N+ is pretty impressive, it’s the same premise as single player, but with some fun game modes multiplayer takes it. The first mode is co-op, it can either be completed in the single player campaign, or there’s a special multiplayer campaign, but with only 50 levels it shouldn’t take too long to complete. In co-op both you and your partner start at the same point in a level and work together to get to the end, whether that means one person collects gold and the other gets the key to the door or both just try and rush through the levels. The other game mode is Race. This is where the exact same map is mirrored on the screen. Each person starts at the same point and whoever finishes the mini-map first wins, and don’t worry about dying, as long as your opponent hasn’t completed his side of the map you still have a chance. Last but not least there’s Survival. In Survival you have to run through an open map against your opponent trying not to get shot by any guns or blown up. As long as you collect gold your timer will continue to increase, but if you get shot or killed by a laser or an enemy a large chunk of time will be taken off.
Aside from the two game modes there is also Xbox live, which consists of the same game types as multiplayer. The only downside about Xbox live is that it can prove to be very glitchy. Even if you’re still a ninja length away from a landmine it will blow up a kill you, or a gun might go off quite a ways from you but somehow manage to hit you, which can be extremely frustrating but there’s nothing that can be done. Another neat feature the game provides is the ability to let a player create his own map and use it in both single and multiplayer.
The Graphics in N+ are nothing too spectacular, but then again this game is designed for gameplay. Even though the graphics aren’t awesome, there are some very neat visuals, for instance when you hit a land mine your ninja is blown apart into six pieces with legs and arms flying all over the place. Also the rag doll effects are fun and at times funny, nothings funnier than seeing a ninja flop around on the ground after falling a pretty unsafe distance. Sound wise it can get pretty annoying hearing the constant dinging every time you collect gold, and the same techno based song over and over again gets old pretty fast. But there is some good news in the sound department, when your ninja get hits by a rocket, a landmine or falls from a high place it does sound pretty neat, and almost believable.
If you’re in the market, Xbox live market to be precise, for a fun, fast paced puzzle game then I’d say the 800 points is worth it. Even though the game can prove to be frustrating at times you will still find yourself going back for more, sometimes all it takes is a little break. The sound and graphics aren’t incredible, but for Xbox live there nothing terrible.
Single player is fun but multiplayer on one Xbox is where the game shines. Online multiplayer also has its moments but is unfortunately plagued with some bugs. With the large amount of levels it can find itself to be a little repetitive, but with the variety of game modes this game is definitely worth the 800 points, as long as you enjoy thinking and problem solving.
Final Score: 7.2
Reviewed by Chris G. | 03.10.08
Addictive gameplay: N+ features run-and-jump gameplay with hilarious ragdoll physics. It's easy to get into, but challenging enough for the hardcore gamer.
Many, many levels: Featuring well over 300 all-new levels, the game also includes a built-in level editor for players to create their own levels. Additional level packs, including the classic N levels from the PC version, and multiplayer level packs, will be available in the future.
Multiplayer modes: Multiple cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes are included. Try survival, race, or co-op play.
Replays: Each level can be replayed to see how fast you completed the level.
Additional content: Check out additional ninja costumes for both single-player and multiplayer games, and skin your dashboard the N+ way.