New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

God damnit. There is nothing relaxing or meditative about N++. Most of the time, I'm uttering inappropriate words under my breath, clenching my fists, sweating profusely, and hoping I don't mess up the next jump. And when I do, there's a good chance I'm going to scream.

If you're wondering "hey, haven't I heard of this game before?" that's probably because N+ was an early standout on Xbox Live Arcade in 2008, which itself was based on a 2005 web game. Raigan Burns and Mare Sheppard have been building on N's formula for 10 years now, and it's just as addictive in 2015. It's incredibly fun to be totally pissed off in N++.

The difference between 2005 and 2015 is subtle, if you're only looking at the game's visuals.

Here's N:

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

Here's N+:

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

N++ is a platformer, but one focused on momentum. Other hardcore platformers like Super Meat Boy give you some control over the character while you're in the air, allowing you to pull off ridiculous feats and often course correct ill-timed jumps. That's much harder to do in N++, as you're often building your next jump off the last jump, so if the first one was wrong? Bzzt.

This is further complicated by mines that will blow you up:

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

Missiles that will track you across the map:

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

Ghosts that will shadow your movements and kill you if touched:

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

And god damn lasers everywhere:

New PS4 Platformer Is Infuriating And I Can't Stop Playing

There's plenty more out there, too, slowly unravelled as you progress through the game's hundreds and hundreds of stages. (A level editor ensures there will be plenty others, as well.)

Death is everywhere in N++, but the series' masterstroke has always been the ability to quickly start from scratch. You don't have to wait for death to come to you; the game has a suicide button that allows you to restart the moment it becomes clear you've messed up a jump. Within a few minutes, as you come to grips with the game's nuances, it will become clear when mistakes are made before they appear on the screen — your fingers will communicate the error. If you had to wait anything more than a nanosecond to try again, this wouldn't work, since the frustration would add up. But since giving it another go takes no time at all, what's the harm in trying?

The basic goal remains the same: get to the exit. Getting there, however, ain't easy, and it's only become more complicated as the developers have added new hooks like friend leaderboards.

See, the exit won't reward you with the highest score; you also need to collect the little yellow dots all over the screen, too. If that wasn't enough, your score drops the longer it takes you to finish the stage, so the best outcome is a devilish combination of speed and accuracy. Unfortunately, engaging in either of those often results in death, as the best way through any N+ stage is taking your time and planning your moves. Good luck!

When N++ is operating at its best, everything feels barely out of reach, and it's what keeps you coming back. "Oh, I barely missed that jump, I'll get it next time." "Eh, I can probably find a way to nab those other yellow dots, lemme try that level again." "Damn, my friend only beat me by a few points, I'll have to make another run."

Sometimes, though, I wonder why I'm playing.

N++ gets me legitimately angry sometimes; the closest I've come to throwing a controller in my adult life is while playing these games. But N++ is purposely masochistic, trying to scratch the same itch one gets from tearing down a nasty boss in Dark Souls or making it all the way to Hell and back in Spelunky. It trusts the player will have an occasional moment of glory, a triumph of the virtual will, and that joyful drip-drip-drip will have them coming back when all seems lost.

And there's so much to get lost in with N++, too — I've barely scratched the surface. I haven't touched on the user created levels, the underrated co-op, or the competitive race mode that sounds like a great way to inspire lots of shouting amongst drunk people on a Saturday night.

You need to be in the right mood to enjoy N++, but when you are, there's nothing else like it.

You can reach the author of this post at [email protected] or on Twitter at @patrickklepek.


Comments

    Very excited for this, spent HEAPS of time with N+ on X360. Don't even care if it's largely unchanged but with new levels, that will suffice for me. Hopefully free on PS+ August deals...

    So this is basically an app version of that flash game I spent my high-school years playing?
    Very cool concept - I was a master :)

    Im looking at the screenshot and I dont see any enjoyment in this game or its premise at all...

    Does that mean there is something wrong with me?

    The Xbox Live version had a coop mode. A friend and I once sat down and decided we couldn't leave till we had completed it. Due to your time being based on the gold dots and carrying over from previous levels we entered many levels with less then 5 seconds on the clock.

    We won, but we never spoke of it again. (fun game would consider getting this on different platform)

    I absolutely loved the original N so very excited for this

    Bought this today - if it's on the August PS+ list I'll be furious. It's great, though, as expected.
    And what's with the 4.2 gb download?? Is it just me or is that ludicrous given the utter lack of textures and what I can only assume is the bare necessaries of a game engine?

      There's supposed to be a fair bit on the soundtrack so I'd guess it isn't compressed, That'd take up a fair bit of space. Titanfall had the same issue and some other games recently that I can't remember.

        6 hour soundtrack, apparently, which would definitely contribute - but still. Maybe they were too lazy to run it through the compressor.

      I wonder this about a lot of games. For example, Lemmings when originally released used two Amiga floppies - under 2MB of data. (This was also true for the sequel.) Recent versions for PS Vita and other platforms have been hundreds of megabytes. I understand there are overheads in code libraries and higher resolution graphics, but increasing size by a factor of a hundred seems a bit excessive.

      N++ looks very minimalistic - the sort of thing I might have expected on an 8-bit console, except for the level count and sharpness of the graphics - so why is it so big?

    Thought about picking it up until I saw the price...
    $30 AU ($27 with the PS-plus launch discount) for a rather basic indie game (with some updates) from 10 years ago and a plan to increase the price again when the next update goes live (from playstation blog).

    It was also originally advertised by playstation blog as 20% off for PS-Plus users (pretty standard for new indie games on PS4), until they had to correct it to 10% because the developer would only let them do that much. To quote from there; "It won’t be going on sale much either, because, due to the level-sharing we have a relatively high cost per user, ruling out steep discounts."

    For comparison, Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is only $23 and currently 70% off for PS plus users, making it about $7 - I can't really compare many other recent/similar indie games because they just show up as purchased >_<

    Might still pick it up but... at least going to wait and see what's in PS-plus for August, not expecting this will be though.

      Or for $35 or so you can get God of War III. Admittedly it's a revised version of an older game, but... wait on, N++ is also a revised version of an older game.

      Anyway, I would definitely wait until a sale for this, if I were a fan of this genre of try, try again super-difficult platformer. Which I'm not.

      Holy crap - it only cost me $10 back on XBL and that was full price!

      However that version did not have servers so any level sharing was only Peer to Peer, the addition of a central place to get new levels would be cool (have to point out to N+ had the simplest level editor I've ever used

      A tad annoyed they decided to go with PS only on this one but that's how the cookie crumbles I guess.

        That actually does make it sound a bit better value. I thought N+ had the level sharing too.

        I haven't played since the original N, which was a lot of fun but not worth paying that much for. Looking at the N++ trailer and stuff though didn't seem much different to N+ (or what I thought N+ had) which as you said, was cheaper too.

    The N flash game was the first game I ever finished (well, back when it was only three tiers of levels), I started playing games pretty late, but boy did I ever love that game.

      Even people who didn't like games liked N, I found.

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