For the record, I’ve been a huge fan of Metanet’s N for a long time. It’s probably still the best free game out there. When it was announced that N was being brought to the DS, I was thrilled. I couldn’t have thought of a more perfect venue for the game. That was back in February, however, and I can’t help but feel that with the release date being constantly pushed back for half a year, my anticipation for N+ became larger beyond anything the actual game could live up to. Yes, I’m slightly disappointed with N+. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the game very much, but for a port of a brilliant, free, Flash game, I’m pretty baffled by some of the decisions executed. I’ve made a list of them:
- Everyone knows that once you start a ‘new game’ from the title screen and wish to continue said game at a later date, the title screen cursor should always default to ‘continue’ and not back to ‘new game!’ This is a fucking no-brainer.
- Considering the limitations of the small DS screens, I think they did a pretty good job fitting the game to them. Constantly dying and replaying a level is an integral part of N so even with limited visibility, you’re quickly going to get the hang of the stage and know where to look. That being said, there’s something about having the full screen view all the time (like the original N) that is part of the essence of the game. I can’t put my finger on it, I think it has got something to do with spacial sense and the feeling of running or falling large distances.
- This one goes with number 2. Dying a lot is a huge part of the game but it can be very frustrating at times considering the difficulty of some of the episodes. To take some of the edge off, the original N featured ‘woah!’-inducing rag doll physics that often lead to epic, save-replay-worthy deaths. I don’t know what’s going with N+ but when you die, it looks like a shitty game of pinball.
- The replays screw up. A lot. What the fuck?
- 4/5ths of the episodes are way too easy. The last fifth are really hard, with a few honorable mentions that are just really annoying (like any level based on the bouncy blocks). I was able to clear all the standard episodes in two or three playing sessions, and it didn’t take me that long either. I would’ve liked a better balance of difficulty with more harder levels overall.
- The inconsistency of the timer takes a lot of the time-attack appeal away (which is arguably the meat of the ‘post game’). In games like this, fractions of a second go a long way.
- They did the unlockables the wrong way. Instead of clearing a column of episodes that span the full range of difficulty, you simply collect gold. This eliminates a lot of the pride felt when unlocking a new color of ninja, which used to be pretty hard to do.
- Finally, the ‘plus’ graphics are stupid.