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N (Windows)

87
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Shazbut (167)
Written on  :  May 03, 2006
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars3.5 Stars

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Summary

Minimalist platformer that's as tough as a diamond

The Good

169. That's how many results you get when you type "N" into Mobygames' search engine. No doubt that number will be even higher tomorrow. "N" herself, resides down here in number 77. Almost as if she was hiding herself, knowing full well her ability to wreak havoc on you if you stumble upon her and play her for more than fifteen minutes.

It's never a good thing to anthromorphise a game. When you begin to stop playing N out of spite, because you want to hurt her feelings by not playing her anymore, for being so damn hard, for having you demonstrate incredible skill only to kill you two millimetres from the exit, then you know you're crazy. Or she's crazy. No, it's definitely her. *twitch*

N is a basic platform game. You are a "ninja" who must collect "gold" whilst avoiding "robots". You have ninety seconds to complete groups of five levels, but every piece of gold you collect gives you two extra seconds of life, so there is a proper incentive. What really makes N stand out from other platformers though is it's physics. Controlling the character is simple, but not easy. There are lots of tricks for you to learn such as wall jumping, and once you master them they give a great feeling of accomplishment and you'll be able to zip round the early courses like you never thought possible. It's a skill in itself and an enjoyable one to pursue.

So yes, N is a skill game. Doubtless you'll call it every other name under the sun should you play it, but you won't call it unfair. Every time you die, it really will be your fault, (which of course just makes you hate it all the more.) Fortunately, the earliest levels are very easy, but the difficulty rises sharply soon after. There are 500 to get through, so...er...a few then. And that's discounting all the user-made ones. Some people have completed N however. I'm just not one of them.

Oh, and it's free.

The Bad

You're kidding, right?

I hate the game itself. I hate her malevolent siren call which calls me back to her like a slave. She has a rope around my neck attached to a wooden pole - preventing me from getting too close or too far away. Despite her ugliness (she's dressed in all grey, surely the worst colour there is despite being easy on the eyes) she makes me determined to conquer her, knowing full well I never will. I've screamed at her. She just sits there in silence. What does she need to do? She knows I'll come back. She can be boring and repetitive. She can drive me to madness. I'll still come back.

*twitch*

In all seriousness, I dislike the fact that becoming good enough to complete N is a task comparable with learning another language fluently. If only because...well...it's pointless. It would be an awesome waste of life. Why not learn to hang-glide instead? Or dig those weights out from the shed and start using them again?

There's not much else you can criticize the game for. It's levels don't gradually increase in difficulty, and you may find later levels far easier than earlier ones, but that's intentional and also quite refreshing. Bemoaning the fact that there is no music or something stupid like that, is like bemoaning that there is no music in a game of chess.

The Bottom Line

I have had some of the most horrible times in my life playing N, but presumably you understand the appeal of the thing by now and I've just been hammering the point home for the last 8 paragraphs.

Don't feel like your computer hates you enough? Give this a try.

*twitch*