XBox Live Arcade continues to serve up some great small gaming experiences, it’s one of the major boons of the platform at the moment I think. It’s great to indulge in some micro-slices of gaming goodness while at the same time supporting independent developers - that’s why N+ is to be the latest addition to my collection. I played the demo version last night and thoroughly enjoyed it so I intend to buy the full game next time I’m on the 360. It’s a platform game when you boil it down, a sort of a weird combination of Impossible Mission and Mario with some Ninja-themed topping sprinkled on for flavour. What makes it a little different is that the physics of movement are more exaggerated than some games, so you can for example ‘ramp’ off inclined platforms due to your momentum. However, you also die from falling too far, so you also have to be pretty careful how you fling your little ninja about.
Each level is a single-screen affair so you have the advantage of being able to see everything you need to see right from the off, with the only objective to open a door (via a switch) and escape. It’s something of a puzzle game too given that the route you take can be important and can require some planning. The graphics are very basic in style, but also very endearing - the animation is great and such simplicity concentrates the game more on wide open spaces and movement flow than aesthetics. Music is great too. All in all the package is very slick, while also echewing almost all ‘fluff’ and concentrating entirely on fun gameplay - and you have about 400 levels to play with, plus a level editor.
If you want there’s the original N available to download on Windows/Mac/Linux (Flash based) - it’s basically the same game just with fewer frills (like no music, fewer animations, even simpler graphics) and less levels. I’ll be buying the full 360 version though to recognise the great work on show here - I especially like that such a good game can use art that I might have been able to produce 😀
Edit: I’m glad to see that N+ has already sold over 20,000 copies in its first 5 days on XBLA, way to go chaps. According to the article, it needs to make $214,000 to break even, and taking into account Microsoft’s 30% cut on XBLA titles (ouch - but still better than retail), they are already two-thirds of the way there! It’s always good to see a success story for small developers.