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BASELine: N++

What is it about gracefulness that draws us in?

I’m referring specifically to grace in motion. Watching a dancer leap, their hands and feet trailing in perfect harmony, or seeing the keel of a ship cut silently through a deep, dark body of water. A soaring bird, the head of a cheetah kept perfectly level as it sprints. Grace.

It’s a function of momentum, too. It’s tough to suggest that a falling leaf, drifting but chaotic, or a Formula One racecar, fast and powerful but rarely ever smooth, is graceful. You could say that grace is the management and control of momentum in an aesthetic, beautiful way.

And it is here that we come to N++.

header nplusplus

I’ve played both N and N+ in the past, for hours. They were formative titles for me, cementing a love of extremely difficult platformers. One of the primary things that separates the N series of games from the pack is how… graceful your movement is. And that remains true for N++.

In order to hit the switches and complete the levels, you’ll need to build up the momentum for smooth, soaring leaps. Many of the levels in the base game have you sailing all the way across the screen, with level titles speaking to you directly — in one case, telling you that “It Looks Impossible, But It’s Not”. Others will have you making small, tightly-controlled walljumps, delicately inserting yourself between rows of hazards to hit the switch or collect the golden coins.

At every point, the controls remain precise. If you fail, it’s never the fault of poor physics or unclear modeling. It is because you weren’t good enough.

action

N++ is the purest execution of an N game yet. It is useless to tell you about the graphics — they are as clean and minimalist as ever. It is useless to tell you about the movement (despite the fact that I’ve been constructing a hagiography of it for half this review) — you know what the movement is like. It is useless to tell you about the music, except that it is peerless, and I wish it were available for sale.

What I will tell you is that playing through a platformer by Metanet is like listening to a Daft Punk album in full, drinking a beer brewed by Belgian monks, or watching a principal ballerina in Swan Lake — you are experiencing a work of art, a classic in its field, created by masters at the pinnacle of their craft.

There's humour in the menus, too.
There’s humour in the menus, too.

And the best part is, Metanet has opened up N++ to the community. Now, it is not just a game — it is a platform.

The base game alone contains nearly 2,500 levels, each carefully constructed by Metanet. On top of local multiplayer, both co-op and competitive, there are thousands of user-made levels, shared via the Steam Workshop. Using the level editor that comes with the game — because of course that’s included — you can create, play, and share your own hagiographies to platforming.

I could go on for hours, for thousands of words about hundreds of jumps, but I’d basically be drooling.

A fan-made level, one of over 10,000 available.
A fan-made level, one of over 10,000 available.

I cannot be any clearer than this: the N series defined the modern platformer, and N++ is the picture next to “platformer” in the dictionary’s latest edition.

N++ is now available for $16.99 CDN on Steam. It is the first time an N game has been on PC since 2004. You owe it to yourself to pick it up.

Jesse Mackenzie is the Managing Editor of AYBOnline.com. He can be reached at jessem@aybonline.com, and his opinions are his own.

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