Something that is lacking in modern video games is the flare for the simplistic while striving for a sense of concentrated focus on one specific idea. It would seem that the two main factors in most modern gaming stem toward two main objectives and that would be a need of a narrative or story. The other factor would be the indulgence for immersion, something that most first person shooters often try to convey. My main point is that modern gaming has pushed back and neglected the games that are based on purely focus gameplay, but it seems that times could be changing; behold the pale horse, N+.
N+ is a game for the Xbox Live Arcade that strives for the focus gameplay days of old. In doing so, we now have the graphics and narrative taking a back-seat, and a game that I would like to call gameplay Nirvana. In N+, you are a ninja that first starts out in an abstract vertical maze or simplistic room. Your task is to get to the exit door and go to the next room or area, it starts out very simple but then that simplistic duty transforms into an incredibly daunting challenge. As you are jumping from platform to platform or wall to wall, you will meet many enemies.
The first enemy being the clock, by which is always ticking down and also serves as your life bar. In order to survive the clock you must collect yellow cubes to replenish your life; this mechanic adds a sense of urgency to the overall feel of the game. Other enemies that you will face include bombs, heat seeking missiles, gun turrets, and mobile electro emitting sentries.
The character movement in N+ is perhaps its strongest suit. The ninja jumps and glides with a profound sense of grace giving the player a sweeping experience that is just so much fun. Much of that fun comes from the use of rag-doll physics that have been implemented into the game. Moments such as evading death from a super long jump to seeing the ninja exploding into a limb frenzy is simply a refreshing gameplay experience everyone should be privy to.
The graphical presentation of N+ can be seen as both a weakness and as its strength. The game’s graphics from the stages to the ninja himself are of the utmost simplistic in nature. I have to say that at first sight the game is not a looker by any means, but as one becomes in tune with the game itself, it becomes clear that the simplistic graphics lends itself to the charm of the game. The overall flow has an almost comedic air about it and makes for a fresh artistic style.
If you are only interested in immersion and narrative in your gaming, then perhaps N+ isn’t for you. However if you appreciate the art of focus, gravity, and near-death evasions then this title is a must buy. To round out this package; N+ also includes time-based leaderboards, level editor, co-op and competitive multi-player, and (everybody’s favorite) achievements; combine all of these elements and you have one of the best reasons to spend 800 Microsoft points.