In N+, you control a ninja on a quest for gold. The game consists of extremely simple, well-designed levels that range in difficulty from beat-it-in-five-seconds easy to mind-bending, controller smashing, game-hating hard.
N+ is an interesting example of a new type of game - a game that relies not on its own merits to draw gamers to complete it, but that relies on an external stimulus, in this case achievements, to compel a player to finish it. Without such a reward, I would have never completed it, and many of my fellow gamers feel the same. The ones who have no interest in achievements don't bother finishing the game once they hit a level that requires hundreds and hundreds of attempts.
Each level in N+ potentially takes only seconds to complete. The obstacles in a given level might require the player to spend up to a minute on some of the more complex offerings, if executed perfectly. However, this is rarely the case.
In an insidious design move, the developers split the two hundred and fifty levels into sets of five, with five of these sets being an episode. Saving the game is only possible after completing a set of five levels. What makes this design so maddening is that a gamer might spend an hour or so on a tough set, get through four levels, often getting a lucky break with a jump or fall, and then the fifth might take several hours to complete. On top of that, the game ONLY saves if the player chooses to exit to the main menu. Turning the game off at any point without doing so will lose all progress the player has made in the sitting. At the beginning of each set of five levels, the player is given 90 seconds. Sparkling yellow pieces of gold strategically placed in each level provide more time if collected. For the first two thirds of the game, collecting gold on the fly will be enough; during the later levels, the player will need to collect as much gold as possible in order to have enough time to complete the set.
The graphics of N+ are ascetic and functional. This design is purposeful, and despite the simplicity of said graphics, the game has a sort of stark beauty. It might be hard to appreciate after six straight hours however.
The music is excellent. Sort of a techno mix, it's not obnoxious, and it never tends to get in the way, and is pleasant enough that it can fade into the background after a while.
There is no story to speak of. A small paragraph accessed on the main menu presents a tidbit of info - you are a ninja, you like gold, and you have a 90 second life to get through five levels, a life increased in length depending on how much gold you collect.
The real expertise behind this game lies in the level design. Its obvious that the designs were executed by people who knew the physics of the game intimately. Levels often require perfectly timed jumps, wall slides and falls to complete, and a single mistake means death. Missiles follow you around corners, guns target and fire at you a split second after you've run by - if you're fast - and lasers charge up and unleash beams at you. It's all great fun, until you hit a level that requires dozens of such perfectly timed jumps.
It's when you've died 500 times on a single level (that's not an exaggeration) and you realize that if you quit without saving you have to replay the previous four levels (that you already died on 500 times total), that you start to realize that you actually hate N+. You realize that you're really only playing to get that achievement, and that the game has long since lost its charm. But you slog on and finally beat the level - only to run into another one soon after. Finally, on episode 49, level 3, the second to the last level, and without question the hardest of the game, you despise the game so much you just want to rip its digital heart out and feed to it the ninja on the screen, right before you step on him like a bug. Alas, you cannot direct your rage anywhere but at the unfeeling machine in front of you, and so you sit, hateful and enraged, staring at the screen, and vowing never to play this game again - or its sequel if there is one. At least, that's how it was for me, and from some of the people cursing on YouTube as they show you how to complete particularly tough levels, lots of individuals feel this way.
On top of that, I haven't even mentioned how the game often doesn't seem to record the fact that you just pressed the jump button, or doesn't want to jump the way you push the directional pad, but that could be the controller's fault - it certainly wasn't mine most of the time.
So, one might think that the last couple of paragraphs are tongue in cheek, and that the game is actually a challenging gem that every serious gamer should rush out and purchase, but really, I don't feel that way in the least. I am not particularly happy that I purchased this game. It only brought me frustration - out of a hobby that should be entertaining and relaxing, and I despise games that are so difficult and punishing that you have to sit and replay the same tiny fraction literally hundreds and hundreds of times.
Overall, N+ is a game that doesn't stand on its own merits, but instead relies on the hunger for another achievement to keep you playing. Save your money and purchase something enjoyable, and avoid the swearfest and misery that this game entails.