N++ is for masochists. Sure, things start off fun and easy, but play long enough and you’ll inevitably hit a roadblock. You’ll drive into that roadblock over and over at high speeds. After minutes or maybe even hours, you’ll clear that hurdle, only to be greeted with another brutal stage. Does this sound awful? Well it isn’t. N++ is fantastic.
The way that N++ pulls off being so damned hard without driving people insane is twofold. First, it carries that Demon’s Souls swagger, in that you take full responsibility when you die. Never once, in the probably hundreds of times that I died, did I feel I was cheated. I knew exactly what I did wrong. Having that knowledge doesn’t make the game any less difficult, but it effectively alleviates the frustration.
Second, and most importantly, load times are nonexistent. There’s no time to get steamed over a death. The second that you’re torn apart in some spectacular fashion, you can press X and you’re off and running once again. You’ll tell yourself “this is the run” because you don’t have any time to talk yourself out of it. No one wants to give up, so you’ll retry over and over. And when you finally clear that level, you’ll say “screw it” and fire up one more, beginning the cycle anew. N++ gets real addictive, real fast.
Luckily, you’re not being roped into a bad game. N++ is a fast-paced, highly refined puzzle platformer. Its premise is simple, just move and jump your way over to a switch that opens up an exit, and then make your way over to that exit. Sometimes it is as simple as it sounds, but unsurprisingly as you open up the later stages, gameplay gets a lot more complicated. You’ll pinpoint platforming skills while dodging obstacles which include homing missiles, mines and attack droids. It’s nothing groundbreaking but it’s well polished and easy to jump right into.
N++ is also smart in the way it progresses players. Instead of being forced to plod through a long list of increasingly difficult levels, you can also jump to more difficult stages instead. Novices will probably elect to slowly knock out all of the A (read: easy) stages then the Bs and so on. Experts (or people who hate themselves like me) can move “vertically” on the stage list and go from A to E which speeds up the jump in difficulty. Little things like this, shows off how intelligently designed N++ is.
N++ also has the potential to be a great party game too. Despite how difficult it can be, the basics are easy to learn. You know, one of the easy to learn, difficult to master kind of games.
Up to four players can race or battle across N++‘s stages. Rounds are short and tense, making it very entertaining to watch. Whether you’re counting the wins or forcing last place to pass the controller, N++ is an excellent modern couch co-op game.
All in all, N++ is a prime example of making a great game even better. Sure, it isn’t a huge leap forward from N+ and isn’t shaking the puzzle platformer genre down the core, but who cares. N++ gives fans more of what they want in a more refined, deeper, and prettier package. It has something for both newcomers and experts to enjoy, and is set up to be great in short bursts or long couch co-op tournaments with your friends. N++ has such wide appeal and is so well balanced, that you’d have to despise the platformer genre to not find something here that you can enjoy.