N++

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
N++ Game Poster Image
Challenging, minimalist platformer with stylized violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can practice socializing and put their perseverance to the test in this challenging platformer with hundreds of multiplayer stages. Collaborative levels require players to work out tactics together and rely on each other to accomplish specific goals, sometimes sacrificing one ninja so another can make it to the exit. Some levels may take dozens of attempts before players eventually succeed, which means players need to focus and stick with it if they want to win. Many co-op stages eventually result in the sort of bond-forging satisfaction conducive to high-fives and may help kids develop friendships with their fellow players. N++ is a great social game that encourages communication among players and helps teach kids not to give up. 

Positive Messages

Encourages perseverance, ingenuity. Fosters friendly competition, cooperation among local players, making for a positive social gaming experience.  

Positive Role Models & Representations

Player's nameless mute ninja has no personality but through his actions demonstrates dogged determination. He never attacks, not even in competitive multiplayer, but instead simply strives to be quick, agile en route to his objectives.

Ease of Play

Extremely challenging, with no option to adjust skill level. But stages are short, restarts occur in under a second, giving players little opportunity to become seriously frustrated.

Violence

Tiny ninja stick man frequently gets ripped to pieces by lasers, mines, rockets. Scattered lines represent limbs; additional lines of color represent blood. Minimalist style significantly lessens impact.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that N++ is a downloadable platformer with simple graphics and no story. Players control a tiny, acrobatic stick ninja attempting to navigate mazes of hazards. He doesn't fight or attack anything or anyone but can be killed by hazards such as robots, mines, and laser turrets. When he dies, his little stick body is typically ripped into pieces. Lines of color representing blood briefly appear. But the minimalist, stylized depiction of the violence significantly lessens the impact. Cooperative and competitive modes facilitate a positive social gaming experience for up to four players. No online modes are supported, but players will see the gamer handles of other players on leaderboards and the custom names of user-generated levels, opening the door slightly for some exposure to potentially inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

A sequel to a hit indie Xbox Live game, N++ is a minimalist platformer composed of more than a thousand levels set in small environments. Players control a tiny and incredibly acrobatic ninja stick man who lithely leaps from floors to walls to platforms, avoiding all manner of hazards and obstacles, including mines, rockets, lasers, and robots. He dodges these on his way to each stage's exit, which must first be unlocked by touching a button located somewhere within the labyrinth. Players can choose whether to collect gold coins along the way to keep up their ninja's life-sustaining metabolism, represented by a yellow bar at the top of the screen that depletes slowly with time. Stages are gathered into "episodes;" groups of five, each with its own leaderboard. Outside solo play are competitive "races" and a cooperative mode for up to four players, as well as a simple level editor that lets players design and share their own stages with the rest of the game's community. Nearly every facet of the experience can be altered, from the color schemes used for each level to how quickly levels automatically restart if failed.

Is it any good?

There's no small amount of pressure involved in making a sequel to a platformer as beloved as N+, which is probably why it took about seven years to arrive. But the wait was worth it. With somewhere around 1,500 levels scattered across all modes -- plus an essentially limitless supply of user-created levels -- N++ ought to sate even its most ravenous fans. And developer Metanet Software didn't fix anything that wasn't broken. The controls, which allow players to control the height and speed of leaps mid-jump, remain just as intuitive, precise, and empowering as ever. After a while, you'll feel like there's nothing you can't make your ninja do -- which is what will keep you trying and retrying some of the game's most difficult stages.

The co-op and race levels make for terrific social gaming. The former require patience and communication, while the latter sees players trying to use enemy robots and hazardous elements to their advantage, timing their activation to cause trouble for rivals. Add in dozens of new color schemes that let players customize the game's minimalist design to their liking and a driving electronic soundtrack that will get you tapping your toes and you have a recipe for a modern indie platforming classic. N++ is a treat.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. Levels in N++ are very short, but it can be hard to stop playing, so what's a good way of ensuring minutes in front of the TV playing a game don't turn into whole afternoons or evenings?

  • Discuss perseverance. Some games are a lot harder than others, but are such games more satisfying to win? Do you find them frustrating? Are you more likely to stick with them if you can play with a friend?

Game details

For kids who love a challenge

Our editors recommend

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