Tuesday, July 22, 2008

N+ Review for 411mania.com

Here is the N+ review I wrote for 411mania.com's Game Section. Check it out here or over at 411mania.com to see the official version.

Genre: Platformer
System: Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Release Date: 2/20/08

Is the beefed up version a free online flash game really worth the 800 Microsoft points price tag?

From Slick Entertainment and Metanet Software comes the addictive ninja themed platformer known as N+. For those who don’t know, N+ was based off of a free online Flash game known, not so surprisingly, as N. It was a timed platformer featuring super jumping ninjas that proved to be addicting and entertaining. N+ was developed as a beefed up version of the popular online game and released on Xbox Live Arcade.

At first glance, a gamer might question why anyone should shell out ten bucks for a game that is already available for free via the interwebs? Slick Entertainment and N’s original developer Metanet Software teamed up to add new levels, features, and multiplayer components to build and improve upon the original version. But do the new features and multiplayer mode really justify shelling out cash for a game that is essentially available for free?

At its core, N+ is a time based platformer in which the player takes control of a gravity defying ninja in an attempt to finish each episode before the 90-second countdown timer hits zero. The game is made up of 45 episodes complete with 5 unique levels per episode for over 225 individual levels. Each episode contains five unique levels filled with obstacles, mines, and lethal robots.Time from each level carries over, so the faster a gamer finishes level one, the more time they will have to complete level 2. Conserving time is crucial, but the gamer can collect gold located along the level to add to their time. If time runs out before finishing a level, its ninja go boom, complete with flying body parts and squishy noises.

N+ also differs from its free predecessor by including multiplayer options, a level editor, and Xbox exclusive achievements. Multiplayer offers co-op, race, and survival modes. The game modes can be played locally, system linked, or over Xbox Live. Live offers ranked and unranked play, complete with leader boards. The level editor is easy to use and offers unlimited possibilities at new levels for your copy of the game. Unfortunately there is no way to share the levels over Live ala Halo 3.

Simply put, game play is addicting. Making impossible jumps, bouncing off walls, and dodging missiles is while completing a level as fast as possible is an enjoyable challenge. Controlling your ninja is simple and easy. The left thumb stick controls your movement and provides smooth control over your ninja. The ninja possesses godlike speed and jumping power to perform these gravity defying feats. Because of this, the game’s overall feel can best be described as “floaty”, so pressure sensitivity and the slightest controller movements make all the difference between making a clean jump or falling to your death.

The 411:
If we’ve learned anything in life, it is that ninjas make everything better. More common examples of ninja goodness come in the forms of answering questions (Ask a Ninja), to battling pirates (Pirates vs. Ninjas), to just plain gratuitous killing ( pretty much everything else involving ninjas). N+ takes brings that ninja goodness to XBLA in the form of an addicting platformer. It’s a definite improvement over the original, which is a lot to be said for any remake or sequel. The game has a great quality where you can pick it up for a few minutes of play or rack your brain for a several hours of intense platforming action. Its lack of story and slightly repetitive visuals and levels can take away from the experience, but the beauty of the game is in its simplistic nature. Touching back to that tremendous teaser that brought you here, N+ is worth the 800 Microsoft point price tag and definitely a must have for anyone’s gaming library.

Graphics: 7.5 Simple environments, characters, and effects designs are refined and cleaned up for Xbox Live. It’s a good look for the game, but its nothing impressive.

Gameplay: 8 It takes skill and patience to complete each challenging episode as fast as possible.

Sound: 6 Featuring only few techno tracks to accompany levels and menus and a limited amount of in game effects, the sound department is a bit underwhelming.

Lasting Appeal: 9 With 225 levels of varying difficulty, plus a level editor and multiplayer, this game will keep you occupied for a while.

Fun Factor: 9 Challenging, fun, ninjas. A great, casual game to play for 15 minutes or several hours.

Overall: 8

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Project Groverfield

A little inside joke I decided to photoshop. Enjoy